Boasting the dimensions of a BMW 7 series but with the performance of an agile sportscar, the Tesla Model S delivers a dynamic, all-electric driving experience that you can have every day with car lease deals to suit your best needs.
Aside from its sibling, the Roadster, the Model S has shown the company evolving in a way as to present EV motoring to a wider audience, presenting drivers with a large, practical, relaxing and comfortable cruiser that performs awesomely and looks amazing.
One feature to admire about the Tesla is the impressive range, in part a success because of the level of technology that the company have achieved and the use of 7000 lithium-ion battery cells that sit low in the car, providing occupants with enough power to travel between 275 and 310 miles between charges.
A stunning vehicle to witness, you enter a world full of the latest technology when entering the luxurious cabin, boasting a relaxed and comfortable environment packed with brilliant features.
What is truly remarkable about the Tesla Model S is the terrific performance and acceleration offered. Even in the base model, the 0-62 time of 5.9 secs is quite an achievement, with the top of the range P85D model lowering that figure to 3.2 secs.
Making a refreshing and resounding change to the usual line up of small electric cars available in the UK, the Tesla Model S offers EV motoring on a luxury level and can be yours on a car lease term to match your demands today.
Put simply, it seems to offer us a glimpse of a better way, a means of luxurious automotive mobility that does away with engine noise and vibration. One that instantly makes the whole idea of lugging around a barrel of fossil fuel to burn seem quaint and outdated. Full-electric cars have long promised these things, but then made themselves untenable with high pricing and restrictive driving ranges. In contrast, a Model S costs no more than its full luxury segment rivals and crucially, thanks to its larger battery, can travel three or four times further than any ordinary electric vehicle between charges. Better still, all of this comes packaged up with a range of smart technologies that could only have come from a company with a clean-sheet approach to personal transportation. The Tesla S is, in short, a breath of fresh air – in every sense.
Take a seat inside and, well, it's not really like anything you'll have tried before, the cabin dominated by the enormous colour touchscreen that sits in the middle of the fascia and can be used to control everything from the selectable height of the air suspension to the workings of the climate control system. Much else is different too, with almost everything you expect a luxury vehicle to deliver having either been changed or become configurable. So, there’s no start button – and certainly no ignition slot. There’s no handbrake either. These things aren’t necessary for the Tesla knows the key is on board, poising itself for the gradient you’re on and readying itself for progress.
The throttle pedal requires quite a flex from your right foot, but brush your brogues against it with any kind of purpose and it hurls itself forward with acceleration that’s, well, electric. Everything’s there for you right from the get-go. In the case of the standard 85kWh Model S variant I’m driving here, ‘everything’ means a prodigious 600Nm of torque from the 380bhp electric motor, enough to fire you up the road even more quickly than the 0-60mph sprint time of 5. 4s would suggest. Even that though, is more than enough to make this car significantly quicker than the fastest luxury segment diesel models it theoretically competes with.
Which brings me neatly to the next model up in the range, the ‘Model S 85D’. The ‘D’ in question doesn’t stand for a smoky oil burner but instead designates the addition of the ‘Dual Motor’ option – Tesla’s way of describing 4WD. The ‘All Wheel Drive Dual Motor’ set-up, to give the system its full name, changes the car’s mechanical configuration. So you move from the simple layout of the Model S – that of having a single 380bhp electric motor slung out over the rear axle driving the back wheels – to one that, as the terminology suggests, offers two electric motors, one sitting on the front axle, the other driving from the rear. Both of these develop 188bhp, so in total, you’ve got approximately the same sort of power as you would in an ordinary ‘Model S 85’ variant. But, with the power spread around the drivetrain, you’ve of course got the perfect recipe for AWD traction.
We are, after all, used to fully-charged pure EV models struggling to deliver a real world range of much more than about 70 miles. Again though, normal rules simply don’t apply, primarily because you’re working with a much bigger battery, one nearly four times more powerful than that in, say, a Nissan Leaf. As a result, a Model S with an 85 kWh battery is rated as being able to complete 310 miles on the official NEDC test cycle. Even in real-world driving, you could expect a 250-mile range – which is astonishing for a pure electric car.
If you’re of the opinion that futuristic technology should come in futuristic packaging, then you might find the styling of this Model S to be surprising conventional. It’s certainly the kind of look that a buyer in the luxury segment would be used to, but only because Tesla has wisely chosen to follow customer expectations in making it so. It’s handsome though, the exterior shape being the work of ex-Mazda designer Franz von Holzhausen, who previously worked on the New Beetle and the Pontiac Solstice sports car.
Drop inside and the surprises keep on coming throughout a beautifully-trimmed interior in which the designers have clearly felt free to be a little more futuristic. Look around the dash and you’ll spot only a couple of buttons – one for the glovebox, the other for the hazard flashers. Otherwise, just about everything is controlled by a huge 17-inch colour touchscreen that dominates the fascia. It’s just as well then, that the interface it offers is brilliant, dealing effectively with everything from the air conditioning controls to stereo functions and the various settings for things like the car's suspension settings and the regenerative braking modes.
Primarily though, you’ll probably mostly be leaving the middle screen in its ‘Navigation’ display setting – in which form it really is clever. Thanks to a 3G Google Maps connection, it can show you traffic build-up points and Google Earth images. Plus of course, it’s the point from which you’ll be planning your journeys, with displays predicting the percentage of battery charge that’ll remain at your required destination - and the amount you’ll be left with upon returning home.
As for rear seat accommodation, well the standards of head and legroom on offer are unremarkable for a car in this class, but what is impressive is the car’s ability to comfortably look after three fully-sized adults in a way that no other rival in this class can.
The Model S enjoys a devastating advantage over its rivals. Let’s say you were considering what will probably be the most popular Model S variant, the ‘85D’ version with its Dual Motor All Wheel Drive system. For the same sort of size, specification, space, traction and performance in a conventional luxury saloon, you’d have to look at something like a petrol-powered Audi S8 – a car that up-front, would cost you almost exactly the same sort of money. From that point on though, the running costs will be wildly divergent.
Ultimately, the Tesla changes so much that it's hard not to feel a bit sorry for its competitors. A conventional internal combustion-engined rival suddenly has a real whiff of BetaMax about it, powered by technology that's yesterday's news. Of course, that’s not to suggest this car to be perfect. No one gets everything right first time. This American brand’s handling and chassis-tuning development still has a way to go and, less significantly, there are improvements that could be made in cabin quality too. On top of that, the EV approach obviously isn’t going to work for everyone.
Most drivers in the luxury segment will buy into the new technology and make a few of the lifestyle changes it requires will find relatively little else to fault. These are people who realise that they won’t find inspiration in the places they’ve already been. They understand that to move forward, you have to do something different – you have to go somewhere new. That’s what Tesla has done, while the rest of the motor industry watches and hedges its bets. In doing so, they’ve created a car that does nothing less than re-write the rulebook.