Is the Tesla Model S is the best electric car on the road right now? Without a doubt, but for those who need persuading we have rounded up nine reasons.
Tesla has just announced a mid-life facelift for the all-electric Model S, which includes new cosmetic tweaks to the interior and exterior that aim to make it even more desirable, meaning the old Model S is no more.
Having spent a week with the range-topping P90D, a dual-motor version of the rear-wheel drive Model S that also happened to include the utterly ridiculous ‘Ludicrous Speed Upgrade’, we decided to celebrate why it has become so loved in such a short space of time.
1) So fast it hurts
The Model S is more than just fast, it’s one of the fastest accelerating cars on the planet. Crudely speaking, the P90D with Ludicrous mode has 762hp – 161hp more than the Audi R8 V10 Plus, more than twice that of the new Focus RS and nearly as much as the Ferrari F12tdf’s V12. And because electric motors can provide full torque instantly, that’s 713lb/ft the moment you’re brave enough to bury the accelerator.
That all adds up to a 0-60mph time of 2.8 seconds, a quarter mile in under 11 seconds and a 0-155mph time 20 per cent faster than the Model S P85D. There are no gears to be changed, no peak torque to rev up to ─ just floor it and your internal organs are left behind.
2) More range than any other electric car
Range anxiety was and still is one of the biggest problems for an electric car, which Tesla was aware of. So it designed the Model S around a large battery cell, which not only gave it a low centre of gravity and even weight distribution, it meant it had a range far beyond that of any other electric car.
The mile rating is around 285 (and that’s the less generous EPA figure), far beyond the Nissan Leaf (up to 155 miles NEDC) and BMW i3 (up to 195 miles without the range extender engine NEDC), making it much more versatile. It may not have solved range anxiety as some journeys can still be tricky and real world figures will vary, but it was the first car to make electric motoring properly feasible.
3) Slippery weather is no match
For such a technologically-focussed company, Tesla’s approach to making the Model S better was delightfully simple. Instead of one rear-mounted motor it added another to the front axle, turning a rear-wheel drive car into an all-wheel drive one. Now while many of us will never have to drive through snow, it’s nice to know you could.
4) You could drive to work during a chemical attack
Honestly, I’m not even joking. The new Tesla has a brand new optional air-filtration system, which is designed to clean the air before it comes into the cabin so the driver and passengers never have to inhale the nasty cancer-causing particulates from petrol and diesel cars in the vicinity.
But Tesla being Tesla, it went one step further. There’s a Bioweapon Defense Mode that pressurises the cabin with only filtered air, so you could, in theory, drive to work during a chemical attack. You would be the only one at work, but still. That’s commitment.
5) Silence is golden
We love the roar of a V12 but we live in a time where small engines and big turbos need to be supplemented by artificial sound through car speakers. That’s never an issue in the Model S, because the only noise you really hear is the fat tyres on the road and a supercharger-esque whine of the electric motors doing their thing. It’s blissfully quiet, which is exactly what you want in a big-old luxury grand tourer thing like this.
7) It helps the planet
Critics will argue the lithium ion batteries and manufacturing process makes the Model S much less eco-friendly in reality and this is true. But if every country on earth used clean, renewable energy it would work out far less damaging than a petrol equivalent. People are already charging their Teslas with solar panels – and nothing is greener than using the sun as a fuel.
Then there’s the fact diesel emissions have been proven to give you cancer and millions of people are dying prematurely because of air pollution, so breathing fresh air is a sensible move. The Model S may be expensive to buy, but it is a step in the right direction. Best of all, you can ‘fill it up’ for £5 to £10.
8) It can drive itself
No I don’t mean it has lane assist or can perpendicular park, although the Model S can do both of those things. What I mean is it can actually steer, accelerate and brake without any input from you. So long as there are white lines for it to follow, it works remarkably well. Scarily so, in fact.
Tesla refers to it as a driving assistant, however, and that’s how you should view it, especially if you want to avoid crashing because it’s by no means infallible. But honestly, it’s the closest thing we have to full autonomy. Best of all, it costs just £2,200 to spec so no more stop-start traffic jam hassle.
9) The infotainment system is unrivalled
Infotainment systems are big bucks now and just about every manufacturer offers them. But there is absolutely nothing quite like the Model S in this department. Essentially, the Model S is equipped with 17-inch iPad-esque that provides control of almost every function.
From controlling the ride height and initiating Ludicrous mode to browsing the web, it can do it all. And because it has an in-built SIM card, things like Spotify can do their thing without having to connect a phone. It may be a bit fiddly from time to time, but it’s bloody useful, especially as the navigation system factors in whether you need to charge mid-way through a journey.