There are a lot more electric cars to choose from today than when the Tesla Model S was first released to the public. Still, Tesla has maintained a high profile and there must be something behind the hype, right?
The Model S isn’t the first-ever Tesla to be seen by the world, but it’s close. After Tesla’s Roadster wowed people in 2008 and showed electric cars could be more than a gimmick, work on the Model S began. In 2012, the Model S went into production and it began receiving awards left, right and centre. It set the standard for what electric vehicles could achieve. But all that was a decade ago.
Since then, the Tesla Model S has received several updates, the most recent of which is the 3rd Generation iteration that took place in 2021. The latest release of the Model S still delivers astoundingly fast acceleration, great range and plenty of room for luggage. But it has been pipped at the post with some of the interior tech and trim options available from other EV manufacturers.
Technical specs of the Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is built for speed and range, so drivers get the best of both worlds. There are two specs to choose from; Model S Plaid and Model S.
The Plaid is powered by a Tri-Motor powertrain with a peak power of 1,020 horsepower. She’s a hefty 2,162 kg when she steps on the scales. The weight is largely due to the bigger than average battery size you get with a Tesla.
The Model S is powered by a Dual Motor powertrain that provides less peak power but is still a healthy 670 pounds.
Both the Model S and Model S Plaid supercharge at a maximum of 250 kilowatts. Essentially, that lets you charge your Tesla a little faster than your average 150-kilowatt charger. Of course, they both have regenerative braking, so kinetic power gets fed back to the battery when you need to slow down.
Model S performance
The Plaid has a stated range of 396 miles on a single full charge and a top speed of 200 mph. Acceleration is a surprising 0-60 mph in under 2 seconds. You’ll be able to leap ahead of a Lamborghini or Porsche when taking off from lights.
Along with the higher-powered engine of the Plaid, you get all-wheel drive and torque vectoring that controls how much power is sent from the engine to each individual wheel.
The Model S is equally impressive although it will take a little more than another whole second for you to reach 60mph from a standstill. The range is a little longer – 405 miles per full charge and the top speed is a healthy 155mph.
When it comes to handling in Tesla’s S Models, you can expect a comfortable drive. The entire experience is very different from other cars, thanks to the various driving modes you’re able to engage. Ludicrous mode, for example, gives you maximum power and speed while Cheeta Stance will lift the back of the vehicle and angle the nose closer to the tarmac. This gives more traction when taking off.
Air suspension keeps you comfortable as long as you don’t opt for the 21” alloys and don’t push too hard on degraded town roads or potholed country lanes.
Notes on the interior & exterior
Tesla’s Model S looks sleek and borders on futuristic. Inside is minimalist, reminiscent of the less-is-more Scandanavian styling ethos. Vegan leathers are a feature of Tesla’s interiors and there’s plenty of room up front. The Model S styling was one of the reasons she made it to our Best Cars for Women list earlier this year.
The back seat is a slightly different story. It can feel a little cramped for taller adults as headroom is slightly restricted by the sloping back.
There’s no centre lump on the back floor, which makes sliding across the seats from one side to another a little easier. The back is perfectly fine for small families – kids get enough room in the back and adults will be happy up front.
There is plenty of luggage space thanks to the lack of a giant petrol-chugging engine under the bonnet. Expect storage space there instead and a cavernous conventionally placed boot with 894 litres of stowage space too. The boot has a wide opening that makes it easy to fit suitcases and almost anything else inside.
Accessories you’ll get in a Tesla Model S
Pretty much everything in the Tesla Model S is controlled via the massive touch screen that’s placed centrally on the dash. Menus take a little getting used to, but you can customise things for your personal preferences.
There is loads of tech to make driving comfortable, easy and pleasurable too. Heated seats, climate control modes for pets, and a bunch of other neat functions are available. The navigation system is simple to use. The Autopilot driver aid system helps with keeping your distance, staying in your lane on motorways, braking, reversing, parking and more.
Tesla is constantly updating and tweaking its vehicles. This is one of the biggest selling points for Teslas in general. New features can be added and performance enhanced remotely. There’s also a mobile service option, which means your Tesla Model S can be taken care of around 80% of the time without you needing to stop by a dealership or service centre.
All these tech updates keep things feeling modern and ahead of the game. The latest development to watch out for in Tesla’s Model S and other cars is the ability to sync your driver profiles between cars. This essentially lets you take your driver preferences with you no matter what model Tesla you sit behind the wheel of.
One thing that’s not quite so great about Tesla’s tech is the inability to integrate with other devices. Just one example of this is music. The only way to listen to the playlist on your smartphone is with Bluetooth syncing.
Model S Practicality
The great range, acceleration and room in the Tesla Model S make it a great choice as an everyday family car – that’s even if you need to drop everyone else off in your family before getting yourself to the office.
There’s no need to get anxious about heading off on holiday either, the larger battery size means you can head from London to Manchester on a single charge or get away to England’s Jurassic or surf coasts without fear of getting stuck with a dead battery.
As the electric charging network extends across the UK, it will only increase the Tesla Model S’ desirability.
One Woman Owner Verdict
Tesla was the first to show the world what can be done with rechargeable batteries in the automotive space. A decade on, we think it’s fair to say they’re still leading the pack. Some of the tech integrations and trim options are better in other manufacturers’ EVs, but they don’t have a patch on the way Tesla is handling software or performance upgrades – or even the level of customisation you can get when ordering one of their cars new.
As far as electric cars go, Tesla is doing well and still holds the top position in the luxury EV space – although Porsche is coming up fairly fast in their rear vision mirror.