Road Test: Tesla Model S 85kWh
Sector: Executive Price: £58,680 (after £5,000 grant) Range: 310 miles CO2: 0g/km
As improbable as it might have sounded until fairly recently, Tesla has managed a couple of impressive feats with the Model S. Not only is this tempting drivers out of established premium brands, but it’s doing so without the backup of a petrol or diesel engine.
At the core of the range, the 85kWh version makes the most sense for corporate users. It’s an £8,000 upgrade from the entry-level model, but the larger battery capacity adds 70 miles to the range and includes free lifetime access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. In other words, it ticks the two important boxes to make an electric vehicle viable – plenty of range and the ability to recharge quickly.
This makes it unlike any other electric vehicle on the market. It’s possible to get into the Model S and just drive it normally, stopping to charge at realistically long intervals and not having to be overly gentle with the throttle or limit the use of climate control. Typical range to a full charge is around 250-260 miles on the motorway and, as Tesla extends its Supercharger coverage, it’s only going to become more usable.
Designed as an electric car, there’s no compromise on practicality elsewhere. It has a large boot, the cabin is spacious and comfortable with no transmission tunnel to affect rear legroom, and there’s a separate luggage compartment under the bonnet. It’s heavy, but with 376bhp and a flat torque curve, it’s an effortless long-distance car and the combination of electric drive and aerodynamic body make it incredibly refined too.
Tesla could have been setting itself up for a fall by targeting the most exacting end of the market, but the Model S is an impressive first shot at the executive sector. Ongoing improvements in quality and additional driver assistance technology introduced this year, set to be bolstered by software updates in the coming months, mean this seemingly improbable newcomer is a very interesting alternative.