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Tesla Model S

(2014 – present)

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 more than a year, as its pop-out door handles are reported to have failed on one in five vehicles.

Key specifications

Body style: Large saloon/liftback
Powertrain: electric motor and batteries
Price: From £77,980* on-road
* price includes £3,000 government plug-in car grant

Launched: Summer 2014
Last updated: Summer 2018
Replacement due: Autumn 2021

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Reviews, road tests and comparisons from across the UK automotive media

The Car Expert


Auto Express


Auto Trader










Company Car Today


Daily Mail




Green Car Guide


Honest John






The Sunday Times


The Telegraph


Top Gear


What Car?





Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall rating: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2014









Eco rating

Independent emissions and efficiency ratings from Green NCAP

No eco rating

The Tesla Model S has not been lab tested by Green NCAP. This is a new initiative, launched in 2018 as a sister organisation to Euro NCAP. As yet, very few new cars have been tested for environmental impact by Green NCAP, and inevitable the testing programme was halted in early 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

Security rating

Independent vehicle theft and security ratings from Thatcham Research

No security rating

The Tesla Model S has not been tested for anti-theft protection by Thatcham Research. This is a new initiative that was launched in 2019 to assess, in particular, the security of new cars with keyless entry and keyless start systems. If the Model S is tested, we will update this page.


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


  • Auto Trader Awards – Best Green Car


  • BusinessCar Awards – Best Luxury Car


  • World Car Awards – World Green Car

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Similar cars

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

Audi A6 | Audi A7 Sportback | BMW 5 Series | Jaguar XF | Lexus ES | Maserati Ghibli | Mercedes-Benz E-Class | Mercedes-Benz CLS | Porsche Taycan | Volvo S90

Obviously, the only one of the cars listed above that also has a fully-electric drivetrain like the Model S is the Porsche Taycan. However, the other vehicles are a closer match for the Tesla’s size and price – even if they run either partly or totally on fossil fuels rather than electricity.

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