Tesla Model S 100D 2017 review

The 100D is the latest version in the Tesla Model S range, and it boasts a range of 393 miles - better than any other EV currently on sale

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With a near 400-mile electric range, the 100D is a seriously compelling product. It’s still eye wateringly expensive, but the fact that many buyers will be able to use this Model S every day without the faintest whiff of range anxiety is significant progress in the push for EV domination. The entry-level models still represent better value for money, but put a similar setup in the forthcoming (and cheaper) Model 3, and Tesla is on to a winner. Ladies and gentlemen, the EV for the masses is just around the corner.

In the race for electric car supremacy, no company comes close to tech giant Tesla. Brand CEO Elon Musk has brought EVs to the forefront and pushed mainstream manufacturers to reconsider their future plans.

Many EVs remain an appealing but niche choice due to the sporadic charging infrastructure and relatively limited range, but Tesla continues to up the ante by introducing new battery packs and near-weekly wireless updates that can quite literally boost efficiency overnight.

Best electric cars on sale

The latest version is the new Model S 100D, which despite its similar name is not to be confused with the flagship P100D. There is no supercar-shaming Ludicrous mode here, and with power down from 595bhp to just 371bhp, 0-60mph drops from 2.5 seconds a more-lethargic-but-still-speedy 4.2 seconds.

That’ll be plenty quick enough for most owners, especially considering the sizeable price cut and improved range. In fact, this new 100D will allegedly do 393 miles between charges, giving it the longest range of any production EV currently on sale.

But in reality, a number of factors will affect electric range, including the weather, traffic conditions and driving style. That we drove the car on a clear weekend in June probably worked in the Tesla’s favour, but to get a feasible 300 miles from a single charge is impressive nonetheless. No EV on the market comes close. 

When we collected the car, the trip readout offered a real-world range of 324 miles with a near-full battery. Over two days of short trips and steady motorway journeys we covered 223 miles and saw range drop to around 70 miles – a discrepancy of around 30 miles. That’s pretty remarkable given that at times we were carrying three passengers and their luggage. 

Charging your Tesla is becoming ever easier, too. With more Superchargers cropping up every month, you’re rarely far from your nearest source of power. But here in lies a problem; as the network expands, the lengthy range becomes less relevant. The entry-level Model S 75 has a claimed range of nearly 300 miles but costs a whopping £37,100 less – or £78,900 less than the P100D. If your commuting habits allow, it still offers better value for money, especially given it utilises much of the same in-car tech. The Audi A4-rivalling Model 3 will slash costs further when it arrives later this year.

Mechanically, the new Tesla Model S 100D is very similar to the cheaper 90D, and given the identical performance figures and all-wheel-drive powertrain, feels indistinguishable from behind the wheel. That means the same tight body control, well weighted steering and impressive refinement – even on our car’s 21-inch wheels. The ride is a little brittle however (not helped by the low-profile tyres), but the fact everything is so quiet means bigger thumps and creaks are much more noticeable. 

The interior is just like every other Model S, with the familiar but still fascinating 17-inch touchscreen filling the dash and centre console. There’s loads of functionality, and the ability to search for destinations and radio stations online makes living with a Tesla incredibly easy. Autopilot remains a doddle to use and takes the strain on longer motorway trips, but quality – especially the buttons on the steering wheel – is still a little shy of the class best.

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