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How practical is the Tesla Model S in real life?

By raccars Published

tesla model S

The Tesla Model S is a much-hyped electric sports car, but is it a practical daily driver?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Tesla had reinvented the wheel with the Model S, such are the claims made for the electric powered sports car. It's fast - seriously fast; it's luxurious and spacious; and it's clean and green thanks to its electric powertrain. This is the car that could convince the general public to swap their combustion engines for electric power, if only they could be sure that it's as practical and good to drive as a traditional car.

Range anxiety

One of the main concerns for electric car buyers is range. People are worried that they won't be able to make long journeys in electric cars and, even worse, find themselves stranded in remote locations with no opportunity to recharge. Tesla hopes to alleviate some of that range anxiety by promising about 300 miles from a full charge. While that's a lot better than early EVs could offer, it's still a long way from the distance available from petrol or diesel powered cars in its class. How difficult is it to accomplish long journeys in a fully loaded car?

First of all, you can count on a network of Tesla 'superchargers'; fast charging points which are available at a number of motorway service stations free of charge. These can achieve a half charge within 20 minutes and an 80 per cent charge within 40 minutes, so it's not as if you are devoid of back-up as soon as you leave home.

Charging the Tesla Model S

There are actually three ways in which you can provide the Tesla Model S with its invisible electric juice. The first is to use a standard plug socket with a lead and charger plug. It takes about 30 hours to reach a full charge using this method. You can also use electric car charging points, which will fill you up within about five hours.

You could install a slightly less powerful version of these at home too, which takes about 10 to 12 hours to provide a full charge. However if you're planning a long distance journey, Tesla's supercharger network is the most efficient way to dispel range anxiety, but you'll need to be organised enough to plan your route taking the presence of charge points into account.

At the moment there are far more Tesla supercharger points in London and the South of England than there are in the West, the Midlands, the South West and the North. While you can still use standard electric car charging points around the country, they take longer. Realistically, fast or motorway driving will also deplete your range more rapidly than driving with energy conservation in mind. But if you have planned your journey with recharge points in mind, this shouldn't be an issue.

Luxurious and autonomous

In other ways the Model S is a very relaxing prospect. Its Autopilot autonomous driving feature allows you to sit back and let the car take the strain for a while - once you get used to the rather odd sensation of being driven by a machine anyway. Autopilot is suitable for motorway use only rather than through town, and Tesla does stipulate that your hands should remain on the wheel. The car uses a combination of self-steering, guided by the white lines on the road, and adaptive cruise control to keep you moving.

It also feels comfortingly sporty to drive and apart from the range counter, to which you'll soon become accustomed, doesn't make its EV status glaringly obvious. Overall, the need to plan journeys more carefully doesn't appear too much to ask in return for free motoring particularly in such rapid and luxurious surroundings.

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