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Expert Rating

Tesla Model S

(2014 – present)

Expert Rating

New car score:

81
%
A

Used car score:

72
%
A

Expert Rating report card

Media Rating:

77
%
A

Safety Rating:

100
%
A

Eco Rating:

A

Reliability Rating:

63
%
D

Running Costs:

54
%
D

How are our Expert Rating scores calculated?

Expert Rating

New car score:

81
%
A

Used car score:

72
%
A

Expert Rating report card

Media Rating:

77
%
A

Safety Rating:

100
%
A

Eco Rating:

A

Reliability Rating:

63
%
D

Running Costs:

54
%
D

Summary


The Tesla Model S is a large executive saloon (well, technically it’s a liftback) that is the flagship of the Tesla range. Like all Tesla models, it is only available with an electric motor – two electric motors actually – supplied by a battery pack.

The Model S was launched in America in 2012, but didn’t arrive in the UK until 2014. It received a facelift in 2016, but Tesla operates on a different basis to other manufacturers, so all vehicles have received significant software updates since launch. These are usually delivered ‘over the air’, being downloaded directly to the vehicle from Tesla. Another significant upgrade to the Model S has been announced for 2021, but it’s not clear when the first cars will arrive in the UK.

The Tesla Model S has been a pioneering vehicle for the image of electric cars, almost single-handedly changing the perception of electric vehicles having poor performance and range. It has received widespread praise for its performance, with acceleration that betters many supercars, and overall praticality for a broad range of potential customers.

However, the Model S was plagued by quality and reliability issues in its early years, and build quality is still not considered a match for similarly-priced saloons from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi. Which? magazine has been publicly calling for the Model S to be recalled for years, as its pop-out door handles are reported to have failed on one in five vehicles. Meanwhile, What Car?’s 2022 reliability survey ranked the Model S dead last in the electric car category. Our data (see below) shows that the Model S is below-par for reliability, but not as bad as plenty of other cars on the market.

After being taken off-sale during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Model S finally returned to the UK market in summer 2023, but is now only available in left-hand drive and in ultra-fast Plaid trim.

As of January 2024, the Tesla Model S has a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 81%. It has excellent scores for safety (the best score of any new car on sale), tailpipe emissions (which are zero, being an electric car) and media reviews. The two areas of concern for buyers are running costs (largely insurance) and reliability (which was poor on early cars but has improved over the years).

Model S highlights

  • Styling generally admired
  • Praiseworthy performance and driving dynamics
  • Reliability has proved better than most rivals

Model S lowlights

  • Interior quality not to German standards
  • Infotainment system is also sub-par
  • Residual values can’t match best in class
  • Now only available in LHD

Key specifications


Body style: Large saloon/liftback
Powertrain: electric motor and batteries
Price: From £124,990 on-road

Launched: Summer 2014
Last updated: Summer 2023
Replacement due: TBA


Media reviews


Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.

The Car Expert

+

Auto Express

+

Auto Trader

+

Autocar

+

Car

+

Carbuyer

+

Carwow

+

Company Car Today

+

Daily Mail

+

Discover EV

+

Evo

+

Green Car Guide

+

Honest John

+

Motors.co.uk

+

Move Electric

+

Parkers

+

The Sunday Times

+

The Telegraph

+

Top Gear

+

What Car?

+

Safety rating


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 94%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 85%
Safety assist: 98%

The Tesla Model S was tested by Euro NCAP back in November 2014 and awarded a five-star safety rating. However, this rating expired in January 2021 and is no longer valid.

The Model S was then re-tested by Euro NCAP in November 2022, renewing its five-star safety rating with an impressive set of individual safety scores.

Eco rating


No eco rating

As of January 2024, the Tesla Model S has not yet been lab tested by Green NCAP.

The Green NCAP programme measures exhaust pollution (which is zero for an electric car) and energy efficiency. Electric cars are much more energy-efficient than combustion cars, so the Model S is likely to score very highly in Green NCAP testing if and when it ever takes place. Check back again soon.

Reliability rating

MotorEasy logo 600x167

Reliability data provided exclusively for The Car Expert by MotorEasy

All data based on MotorEasy average workshop costs for extended car warranty claims

The Tesla Model S has a below-average reliability score of 59% as of January 2024, according to workshop and warranty data provided exclusively to The Car Expert by our partner, MotorEasy.

The most common problems don’t relate to the car’s electric motor or battery pack, but to other systems like suspension, electrical system (wiring and accessories, rather than the electric motor) and brakes.

As noted above, there is a lot of owner-reported information about reliability problems from the likes of What Car? and Which?. The Model S has improved in terms of build quality throughout its decade-long production life, but it appears to still lag behind the best in the business.

Awards


Trophies, prizes and awards that the Tesla Model S has received

2022

  • DrivingElectric Awards – Best Used Large Electric Car

2021

  • Carbuyer Awards – Best Used Large Electric Car

2019

  • Auto Trader Awards – Best Green Car

2016

  • Business Car Awards – Best Luxury Car

2013

  • World Car Awards – World Green Car

Similar cars


If you’re looking at the Tesla Model S, you might also be interested in these alternatives

Audi A6 | Audi A7 Sportback | Audi e-tron GT | BMW i5 | BMW i7 | Genesis Electrified G80 | Mercedes-Benz CLS | Mercedes-Benz EQE | Mercedes-Benz EQS | Porsche Panamera | Porsche Taycan

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The Tesla Model S has been a pioneer for electric cars, single-handedly changing the perception of EVs having poor performance and range.Tesla Model S