Tesla Model S P85, motoring review: This much-hyped car is a mean, green driving machine

 

PRICE £83,480 (range starts at £50,289, including government grant)
ENGINE CAPACITY Three-phase AC electric motor, 85kHw
POWER OUTPUT (BHP @ RPM) 410 @ 5,000 – 6,7000
TOP SPEED (MPH) 132
RANGE (Miles) 320

It's easy to get carried away with Tesla and its superhero, green-crusading founder Elon Musk. He made a fortune with PayPal before investing it in a space programme and a luxury electric car made in Silicon Valley. The futuristic hype is unbelievable.

The truth though, is that it's justified and the Tesla Model S, which hit British roads this week, really is something.

It's been on sale in America for more than a year, and it's already outselling traditional petrol-guzzlers including the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. Driving one last week in west London, my mind wandered away to consider what it would have been like to test drive the Ford Model T in 1908. It would have felt like driving the future, which is exactly what driving a Tesla feels like.

I appreciate that it sounds as though I've drunk the corporate Kool Aid, but this car is truly revolutionary. Charge up its 7,000 electric batteries and in real-world conditions it will do about 250 miles without any exhaust emissions (only a true green energy tariff makes it carbon free), without any of the compromises on speed, power, range and luxury that are usually associated with electric cars.

Sadly, the Model S is by no means as affordable as the Model T was, with even the "basic" 60 kWh model setting you back close to £50,000. That said, you don't have to pay vehicle excise duty or showroom tax and are exempt from the London congestion charge. Not to mention that a six-hour night-time battery charge on a standard tariff costs £4.50. I suspect that aside from early adopters, it will tempt traditional new car buyers to spend a bit more for something special.

I haven't even mentioned the wonderful 17in display, which made me feel as though I was driving a smartphone. Or that it drives like a dream and accelerates so rapidly that you'll be begging the Old Bill to offer you a carbon trading deal as he prepares you an expensive new-style speeding ticket.

I admit it, I have drunk the Kool Aid and it was music to my ears to hear last week that Musk is considering flying cars in the future. Bring it on.

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