2015 Tesla Model S road test - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

Electric cars are fine if you want to save the planet, but they’re slow, dull to drive and don’t have enough range to replace a conventional car. Right? Well here’s the electric car that will change your mind: Tesla’s Model S.

Understanding what the Model S has to offer begins with getting your head around a slightly odd model structure. The entry-level version is the 70D, where D denotes dual motor (one for each axle, giving four-wheel drive). For £4000 more you can get the single-motor 85, which has more power and more range but is marginally slower from a standing start. Another £4200 upgrades the 85 to dual motors, giving four-wheel drive and extra power, reducing the 0-62mph to a rapid 4.4 seconds. Then for around £80,000 there’s the P85D with dual motors delivering a whopping 681bhp (691PS) and a 0-62mph time of just 3.1 seconds – quicker than a Lamborghini Huracan. Performance is not an issue.

Range, then? On the industry-standard NEDC test all the Teslas return between 275 and 310 miles from a full charge. Tesla’s on-board computer provides a range estimate which is more realistic, but even that says the 85 will generally exceed 240 miles on tank of, erm, electricity.

Tesla has more than 400 of its super-fast Supercharger stations in Europe, which are free to use and can add about 170 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. The Superchargers mean range is no longer a problem – though you do have to be a bit more organised in your planning a long journey. Teslas can also be recharged at other public charging points, which are more common, though those take a little longer. Tesla says a typical driver can save around £800 a year in energy costs compared to running a conventional car. There’s no road tax or congestion charge, and a 40% tax payer can also save about £4000 a year in Benefit-in-Kind tax.

Look beyond the raw numbers and the Tesla makes even more sense. It’s an attractive, comfortable, well-built saloon car with plenty of space for five and the rare option of two extra rear-facing seats. Add that it’s also easy to drive, incredibly fast, and offers smooth progress no internal combustion car can match – and can save you a lot of money – and the case is compelling.

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