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Expert Rating

Tesla Model S

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Expert Rating

Tesla Model S

(2014 – present)

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

    Model S highlights

    • Styling has been almost universally 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

    Key specifications


    Body style: Large saloon/liftback
    Powertrain: electric motor and batteries
    Price: From £83,980 on-road

    Launched: Summer 2014
    Last updated: Summer 2018
    Replacement due: Autumn 2022


    Media reviews


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

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    Motors.co.uk

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    What Car?

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    Which?

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    Safety rating


    Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

    No safety rating

    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.

    This is normal procedure as Euro NCAP ratings expire after approximately six years unless the vehicle is re-tested, as the rating criteria get tougher on a regular basis and a five-star rating from 2014 is not applicable to a new car in 2022.

    Eco rating


    No eco rating

    As of July 2022, 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

    As of July 2022, we don’t have enough reliability data on the Tesla Model S to generate a reliability rating.

    The Car Expert’s reliability information is provided exclusively to us using extended warranty data from our partner, MotorEasy. As soon as MotorEasy has sufficient data on the Model S, we’ll publish the score here.

    Awards


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

    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 5 Series | DS 9 | Genesis G80 | Jaguar XF | Lexus ES | Maserati Ghibli | Mercedes-Benz E-Class | Mercedes-Benz CLS | Porsche Panamera | Porsche Taycan | Volvo S90

    Obviously, the only cars listed above that also have a fully-electric drivetrain like the Model S are the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT. 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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    Tesla Model SThe Tesla Model S has been a pioneer for electric cars, single-handedly changing the perception of EVs having poor performance and range.