Tesla Model S review - Range, charging and running costs
Minimal running costs and tax-breaks are appealing, while Tesla's Supercharger points are growing in number
The government doesn't offer any green car grants for expensive, luxury electric cars, although on a more positive note, you’ll have no road tax to pay, and the Model S is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, too. Company car Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) taxpayers will also reap big rewards from driving a Tesla, thanks to a 2 per cent BiK rate for 2022/23, which compares extremely favourably with the 37 per cent BiK most petrol luxury cars attract.
Range is probably the biggest concern for potential owners, although Tesla makes reassuring claims about the Model S’s potential to eke out big mileages. We’ve no reason to doubt the figures achieved under official test conditions, but keep in mind that if you want to unleash the car’s performance the achievable mileage will drop.
To maximise charging efficiency, we'd recommend installing a dedicated wallbox with at least the blue utility (‘commando’) socket, as charging a fully flat Model S from a standard UK mains plug will take more than a day to achieve.
Even better is Tesla’s Supercharger network, which will recharge a flat battery in a pre-facelift car to 80% in around half an hour. If you're in more of a rush, it'll provide 133 miles of range in 15 minutes. Tesla claims its 2021 update models can grab 200 miles of Supercharge range in 15 minutes - charging at 250kW.
At the end of 2021, Tesla had installed 780 of its Superchargers in the UK. They're exclusive to Tesla owners (for now) and new cars come with around 1,000 miles of free charge per year – after which owners will be charged a fee to top up. Even without this facility, however, rough estimates suggest you’ll only spend around £300 a year on charging via the dedicated wallbox.
Whichever version you pick, the Tesla Model S is luxury saloon offers extremely high performance – so you won’t be surprised to hear it has group 50 insurance, a privilege shared with cars such as the Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari 812 Superfast, among others.
Tesla reckons it has an ace up its sleeve with the Model S, as the car’s software packages are updated every few months - much like a personal computer. According to one company source this means the car ‘improves over time instead of depreciating’. The jury's out on this one as far as residual values go, as expert data suggests the Model S will hold onto 44-45 per cent of its original value over three years and 36,000 miles. So, a
In this review
- 1Tesla Model S reviewThe all-electric Tesla Model S is an impressively competent luxury EV, but new rivals mean it’s got a fight on its hands
- 2Engines, performance and drivePerformance is, erm, electrifying... but heavy batteries mean cornering feels disappointingly leaden
- 3Range, charging & running costs - currently readingMinimal running costs and tax-breaks are appealing, while Tesla's Supercharger points are growing in number
- 4Interior, design and technologyIf you want to feel part of a digital future, the Model S is sure to impress
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Tesla Model S has a futuristic luxury feel that belies an improbably practical interior
- 6Reliability and SafetyTesla offers an eight-year battery warranty for the Model S, while safety levels are first-rate