BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Car Review

Tesla Model S review

£93,425 - £113,425
Published: 27 Dec 2023


What should I be paying?

Well this is awkward. As discussed you can no longer order a new Model S in the UK, and there's no guarantee at this stage that Tesla's factories will ever get round to building right-hand drive models. So your only options at the moment are buy direct from Tesla's existing inventory, or go second hand.

In the past the company’s prices had a tendency to shift wildly (and without warning) in the UK and Europe, owing to a decision-making process that takes place on the other side of the Atlantic.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Anyway, when it was on sale the Tesla Model S came with refreshingly few extras. You got five exterior paint colours to choose from, and you could upgrade from the standard 19in alloys to 21in ‘Arachnid Wheels’.

Three interior schemes included black, white or cream, and once you’d picked one of those you’d be onto Tesla’s trademark driver assistance tech, dubbed ‘Enhanced Autopilot’. Remember, it's there to assist you, not take over altogether.

‘Full Self-Driving’ added more cameras/sensors ready for when UK law might permit such a feature, but as explained on the Driving tab, we're still not there yet. So you can banish visions of removing your hands from the wheel, kicking back and catching up on sleep as the car finds it's way home for you.

Instead of having to go to a dealer or service centre to get your car updated, Tesla pushes updates to its cars over the net like it's a massive, wheeled smartphone. These updates add new features, improve existing ones and fix bugs. The theory is however old your Model S, it will always have all the latest features, provided you’ve let it update (you don’t have to be in or anywhere near the car). This is clever and we like it very much indeed.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Not that Tesla has conventional dealers, mind you. You buy direct from the company, not via a dealer, and the ‘stores’ where you’d do so are usually found in big shopping centres, not extra-urban industrial estates. Or you can buy online, because obviously.

The Model S draws about five miles per hour-of-charge from a household three-pin plug, which is snail's pace. This increases to about 20 miles per hour-of-charge from a purpose-built wallbox, which, should you buy an EV, we’d definitely recommend getting fitted to your house. Most are only a few hundred quid.

The big draw with Tesla is that you get access to the Supercharger network: they’re fantastically rapid and very convenient, as they’ve been installed at most UK motorway service stations. Plug into one of these and Tesla claims you can count on up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. By the time you’ve stopped to visit the loo and grab a snack, that really is on par with combustion stopping times.

You can also use Tesla-branded ‘Destination Chargers’ at hotels, gyms and the like, although charging costs will depend on the venue. Unless you find yourself some free electricity, charging at home will almost certainly be the most cost-effective method, so budget around £35 for each time you fill up that 100kWh battery on your driveway.

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine