Tesla Model S (2014) Review

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Tesla Model S (2014) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
More than just a car the Tesla Model S is a revolution, the Californian firm catching the established legacy car manufacturers napping and delivering a useable electric car to the public, and a charging network to help power it.

+Still the best real-world electric range you can buy and free charging, quiet and quick and easy, fast charging via Supercharger network, hugely spacious inside.

-The interior feels a bit low-rent for the price, you’ll need a driveway if you’re wanting to charge it at home, other Tesla drivers...

New prices start from £62,435
Insurance Group 50

Being backed by one of the world’s richest men hasn’t hurt Tesla’s growth, nor has not being wedded to a traditional way of doing things, Tesla being among the most disruptive forces to hit the automotive industry in recent times. The Model S has been around since 2014 and still the traditional manufacturers are scrambling to catch up. Not cheap, and there are other compromises, but the Model S is the poster car for a plug-in future, and rightly so.

Looking for a Tesla Model S (2014 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

We used to be asked if we’d driven a *(insert supercar of choice here) whenever mentioning our work testing cars here at Honest John. That’s changed since Tesla arrived, and not just because the Model S has the ability to smoke most supercars when it comes to its accelerative performance, with plenty of YouTube videos to prove it, because everyone wants to know about it.

Smoke’s technically wrong, too, as the Tesla does its wild acceleration party-trick without producing any emissions, or at least from any tailpipe. Batteries power electric motors, with the Model S genuinely catching the traditional car makers unaware in relation to both its performance, and, crucially, range.

Tesla has become an almost cultish brand as a result, with dedicated followers unable to see past some of the company’s failings – build quality can be sub-par, and its proclamations of self-driving tech is somewhat worrisome – but that aside it’s impossible not to be impressed with what Tesla’s achieved in a very short space of time.

With the Model S Tesla hasn’t just produced a car, but it’s created a charging network to power it, which allied to the useful real-world range the Model S (and Tesla’s other models) makes the Model S a car that’s genuinely useable, even over long distances. 

That’s key to its success, early adopters of the Model S also benefitting from Teslas’s offer of free charging via its Supercharger network, which covers most of the UK, Europe and beyond.

Model S sales might have slowed now Tesla offers a cheaper, smaller choice with its Model 3, but it still offers the Model S in either Long Range or Performance models, with the Long Range able to eke out as much as 370 miles – that an official WLTP tested figure – and the Performance model only losing about 12 miles off that. Those are numbers that no plug-in electric vehicle from any rival has been able to come close to matching yet, with most struggling to achieve about half of that. 

Throw in the Model S’s mind-altering accelerative potential, with the Performance model able to reach 60mph in an organ-rearranging 2.3 seconds when set to Ludicrous Mode – seriously – that better than most hypercars, and even the Model S’s closest rival, Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S. Entirely unhindered by convention, then, the Model S underlines that with an interior that’s almost entirely controlled by a huge touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard.

It’s not perfect in its operation, but it’s arguably more user-friendly than rival manufacturers’ systems, and its size does help distract you from the otherwise less than perfect materials that can be found in the Model S’s interior.

Still, it feels like you’re driving the future when you’re in one, which you are, all of which makes the fact it’s actually been around now for nigh on a decade – it arriving in the US in 2012 – even more remarkable.     

Ask Honest John

What's the best electric car for £35,000?
"We are contemplating going full electric with our next car. At present we have a BMW Active Tourer PHEV. My problem is that I prefer a light (ivory, beige) interiors, I really don’t like black interiors! My budget is about £35,000 max so this figure precludes Lexus or Jaguar. Range requirement would be circa 200 miles. Is there anything out there that might meet my expectations?"
Your budget is enough to get you a Tesla Model S which is quick, comfortable and practical, and grants you access to Tesla's excellent Supercharger network. Tesla also offered the Model S with the light interior you're after. If you want a newer electric car, you'll need to go smaller – we rate the Hyundai Kona EV and the BMW i3, both are available with light interior finishes.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Is a used Tesla S a sensible buy?
"There are many three or four-year-old Tesla's on the market, probably because the four year 50k warranty has expired. I have read many horror stories regarding reliability, I know the battery and drivetrain are covered for eight years. What would be your advice? I have a max budget of £42k. Is it possible to get an independent warranty extension that covers all the electronics?"
I suspect the number of three or four-year-old Teslas on the market is more down to them coming out of lease or finance deals rather than concerns about reliability (although that might be a factor, too). It probably depends how long you wish to hold onto the car. If you're wanting a car to last a lifetime, we'd be a little concerned as we don't know how well Teslas will last and, at the very least, the batteries will require changing at some point down the line. Having said that, the batteries are unlikely to fail suddenly - they'll degrade over time - and if you're only planning on keeping it for a few years, it's unlikely to be an issue. I believe Allianz offers an aftermarket warranty for Teslas. Read more about warranties here: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/cheap-car-warranties/
Answered by Andrew Brady
Need an electric car to cope with an 800-mile journey - do they exist?
"I currently run a three-year-old Renault Kadjar diesel. I am looking to replace it with an electric car. Trouble is, I drive to Spain twice a year and need a car that will cope with the 800-mile journey. Will an electric car suit my needs? Do you know what is the situation in Spain reference charging points? "
Electric cars don't suit everyone, and I suspect you'd have to be an extremely keen EV owner to drive one for the kind of distances you're talking about. Tesla's Supercharger network is pretty comprehensive across Europe (including Spain) so that could be a good option, and the Tesla Model S has a range of at least 300 miles depending on which model you choose. They're expensive, though. If you'd prefer something cheaper, the Hyundai Kona Electric has a range of 300 miles. The PlugShare app is good for finding EV charge points and consider investing in an IBIL card for charging in Spain. They're available from most petrol stations with chargers.
Answered by Andrew Brady
How long do electric car batteries last?
"How long do electric car batteries last?"
On hybrids they can last 10 years. On purely electric vehicles the lives are much shorter, perhaps five years max with a seriously declining range by the last few years. That is why sensible manufacturers of electric vehicles will sell you the car but lease you the battery. However, the batteries in the Tesla Model S so far seem to be showing very little degradation. Google 'Tesla Model S battery life', it's quite interesting.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Tesla Model S (2014) cost?