The exhilarating Tesla Model S makes a strong case for an electric motoring future. As large and spacious as a BMW Series 7 saloon it accelerates from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds – charging for free at Tesla Supercharger points from Scotland to Slovenia. This sleek stylish automatic warrants a government £5,000 plug-in grant. Tesla’s mantra – Zero Emissions. Zero Compromises – is persuasive.
It seems that only the Flat Earth Society, particularly those on the Luddite Petrolheads subcommittee, could disagree. Oil is on its way out. Tesla delivers “killerwatts”. Although driving just over 2 tons of aluminium, plastics, silicon software and leather is not the most eco-friendly option – even if you recharge over night from your very own solar panels – Tesla is accelerating towards a cleaner and greener future.
Elon Musk, once the force behind PayPal, now the billionaire driving Tesla, is on an electric mission. Bill Gates uses his billions to liberate Africa from the scourge of malaria: Musk wants to free us from noxious emissions and the deafening roar of traffic.
This head-turning EV (electric vehicle) is silent until it reaches 18mph. From then on it is road on tyres which is the key variable. The California based entrepreneur/inventor/visionary backs up his philanthropy with a generous offer for car manufacturers to use the technology patent free.
As ever the problem is resistance to change. “Book a hotel room whilst you charge,” the doubters chortle. Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear Team were filmed pushing a Tesla Roadster – the Model S’s predecessor – from a test track. It may have been entertainment, triggering an acrimonious court case, but the stunt contributed little to a balanced debate on EVs.
Range is no longer an issue: plug-in to your domestic supply for 13 hours overnight for just a fiver to get a full charge and around 275 miles driving. Out and about the ever-growing network of Superchargers will provide half a charge in 20 minutes.
“Is that another Tesla up ahead?” I asked my passenger as I cruised through Belgium in a £63,000 Model S – entry level at £49,900 – on the Tesla Supercharger Rally. We were meeting up with 150 other Teslas in Amsterdam. They had departed from all points European to celebrate one billion miles of electric motoring.
“No, that’s just a Porsche,” she replied, clearly perturbed by my should-have-gone-to Specsavers-moment. Yet she need not have worried. I was in cruise control, just paddling up or down by 5kmph with the fingers of my left hand, as speed limits fluctuated.
Sensors instigated braking if we strayed too close to another car. Red lights indicated traffic in our blind spots. Is this another case of technology deskilling humans? Ironically my passenger felt safer when cruise control was switched off.
“I’m going to call it the Spa Car,” said another passenger sinking back into the “next generation leather”. She had a point. This is a car that could bring back The Road Trip. The technology shrinks continents.
With the battery beneath your feet a low centre of gravity creates impressive road-holding capabilities. A 17 inch i-Pad like screen dominates the futuristic cabin. Not only is it the ultimate sat-nav but flick through the menus and you can select your radio station and seat settings too.
Software downloads allow the car to constantly evolve. Drivers can now ask the car to remember the suspension they would like for a jolting set of speed bumps. It saves driving position settings for up to three drivers, plus a valet-parking setting to secure glove-box, “frunk” and trunk.
Waiting for our return Eurotunnel crossing we decided to search the internet for the day’s edition of The Times. Our eyes were drawn to a quote from Richard Branson, “In 20 years there will be no cars being built with diesel or petrol internal combustion engines anywhere in the world.”
If he has had a Tesla test drive I bet it was in the top-of-the-range P85D. That’s the 85kWH version with a top speed of 155mph and 0 – 60 in 3.1 seconds. Put it on your Christmas list.
You can book a test drive at https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/drive
For more reviews and guides visit our motoring channel.Last modified: June 22, 2021