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's green car grant no longer applies to vehicles over £35,000, so all Tesla Model S variants are excluded, although the former £3,000 discount is fairly marginal anyway against the Model’s £85,000 starting price. Still, on a more positive note, as it’s an electric car with zero running emissions, you’ll have no road tax to pay, and it’s 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 1 per cent BiK rate for 2021/22, rising to 2 per cent thereafter. There’s no fuel benefit charge to pay either, which means tax 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. The official range figures vary from 390 miles to 512 miles depending on model.
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.
Car group tests
- New Tesla Model S Long Range 2019 review
- Tesla Model S 75D 2018 review
- Tesla Model S 100D 2017 review
Used car tests
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.
As of May 2021, Tesla has installed over 620 of its Superchargers in the UK. They're exclusive to Tesla owners 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’. This thinking certainly seems to have contributed to strong residual values, as expert data suggests the Model S will hold onto almost 60% of its original value over three years and 36,000 miles.
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