Tesla Model S Review (2015)
For those fleet operators who are looking to reduce their carbon motoring footprint as much as possible, there is little to compete with Tesla’s Model S. As a plug-in electric car it emits no pollution whatsoever on the road. This technology and green credentials do however come at an increased cost. With the range starting at just under £55,000 it is a considerably outlay when comparing it to one of the other premium saloons on the market.
However, there are other factors to take into account which make the Model S a little more attractive on paper. With low running costs (just the price of a charge), massively reduced BIK liability, zero tax, and no congestion charge, All of a sudden the Model S becomes an altogether more viable option.
Ok, so it is something to consider on the company fleet for mid/upper management, what is it like to drive?
With its entry level 70 Rear Wheel Drive option, and 70D, 90D, and P90D options the price can increase considerably. Presented with the P90D to review, starting at around £88,000 (a £33,000 premium over the 70), JCS was keen to know what all the fuss was about and to see if an electric car is a viable option To look at, there are styling cues from Jaguar and perhaps a little Mercedes, BMW or even Maserati (Ghibli) and overall it is a nice car to look at. It is well
proportioned and does not look awkward on the road, it is definitely a wolf in sheeps clothing on this front. A key bonus is that it looks like a normal car, it is not trying to be funky like Honda’s Insight or suffered such design compromises as earlier electric cars.
Comparing the Model S against it’s possible peers, the 5-Series, E-Class, A6, Ghibli, XF, and Panamera D the design is not ground-breaking, however this is perhaps a good thing as the look and feel is familiar and un-intimidating which is perhaps key when not only carving a niche market but also fitting into an existing one too.
Moving to the interior of the Model S, the difference between this and its competitors is far more apparent. Technology and IT is king inside the Model S. This is apparent from the comparatively
massive portrait touchscreen monitor in the centre of the car. It dominates the front giving you full access to everything that controls the Model S as well including acting as a way of getting onto the internet and sat-nav. Looking to the rear of the car, a little less attention to comfort seems to have been paid. With the rear seat looking literally like a bench seat and the cushion depth being somewhat lacking, I would be wary of any kind of long journey in the back of one of these things. Surprisingly, the Model S also comes with a 7-Seat option facilitated by 2 rearward facing seats in the boot. Aimed specifically at smaller children they are reminiscent of the Volvo style rear seating that collapses down into the boot area.
Going into more detail, the specification of the Model S is impressive to say the least. With 12-Way Electric, Memory & Heated Front Seats, Bluetooth Hands Free, DAB/AM/FM/HD 200Watt Sound System, 17³ Portrait Touch Screen Display, Satellite Navigation, Keyless Entry, Heated & Folding Door Mirrors, Blind Spot Warning, Cruise Control, Dual Zone Climate Control, In Car Wi-Fi, and Forward Camera, Sonar and 360 degree sensors, along with synthetic leather upholstery, there is little you could want on the Model S not already there. The options list has your traditional Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Air Suspension, and sound upgrades, however you can also add Autopilot, and their Ludicrous Speed Upgrade. No that was not a typo or us getting a little enthusiastic with our synonyms. Tesla offers a Ludicrous Speed Upgrade (mode
on this later). So the inside and outside of the Tesla certainly cuts the mustard with good looks and a very high specification.
Behind the wheel, the Model S is comfortable and the huge screen takes some getting used to and can feet a little distracting. However, once you get used to it being there you can focus on the road ahead. Starting the Tesla Model S is something of a non-event. Obviously there is no engine sound so you need to check your dash to see that you are actually switched on and ready to go. Driving off is done in an unearthly silence and at low speed again there is nothing. Not like the Twizzy which gives you the impression you have plugged a 9v battery onto a little 3v motor.
The sensation of pulling away in absolute silence is somewhat unnerving, more so when you approach faster speeds with nothing but road and wind noise to indicate you are even moving. With a range of over 300 miles, you can waft in relative silence confident you can do a full days work in the Model S and still drive home afterwards. Tesla also has an expanding Supercharger Network which is free to access which means longer journeys will
only require a short stop-over for lunch to extend your range.
Performance wise, the P90D will take you from 0-62 in 3.1s. Yes you also read that correctly, in just over 3 seconds you will be doing 62mph, and the P90D will take you on to 155mph, although the pace over 70 does slow a little. If you are looking for another car that will accelerate that quickly you are looking Aventador territory. Thats right, hypercar performance for under £100k. Now earlier in this review you may recall us mentioning the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade. For another £8,700 you can improve the performance to take you from 0-62 in just 2.8s and a quarter mile in just under 11s. This is now LaFerrari, 918 and P1 territory, still for less than £100,000, all on an electric motor.
Grip from the All Wheel Drive system is strong, mainly due to the intelligent way in which power can be fed to the wheels. Hard acceleration around a corner can give you a slight twitch but nothing worth writing home about and you feel it will always remain composed.
So, to cap it off, for under £100,000 you are getting the latest technology, business class luxury and hypercar performance, with minimal running costs. it is difficult to see why the Model S would not be at the top of may peoples wish list.
Moving on to the monthly figures which are the benchmark in decision making for company cars, one could finance the Model S P90D with its Ludicrous Speed Upgrade for under £1,000 a month with a deposit of £21,000. This essentially represents a bit of a bargain, however taking into account the other savings such as no contention charge, no petrol costs etc it would work out to be more like under £700/month. The best news is yet to come. Most people wont want or need the hypercar performance and would happily settle with the 90D with its maximum range of 340 miles and 0-62 of a mere 4.2s (nicely within sportscar / supercar performance territory) costing under £550 a month (again with a £21,000 deposit, or around £200/month if you take into account the other savings). Opting for the entry level 70 will give you a range of 260 miles and a still respectable 0-62 in 5.5s and cost as little as around £400/month (with a £16,000 deposit, or around £75/month taking into account potential savings)
In short, the Tesla Model S, for someone living/working in central London could cost (in theory) as little as a meal out per month. All of a sudden the Model S is almost a given rather than an option.
To find out more about the Model S and leasing it through JCS Fleet, please contact us on 01223 911 761, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online enquiry form.