Tesla Model S long term review

We had owned a load-lugging Audi A6 Estate for six years. With two kids and a dog together with all of the paraphernalia that comes with it over the years – buggies, school stuff, dog bed, you get the picture – it was perfect for a long time. It was great for crossing continents too, but it was absolutely awful for anything other than long journeys. When you’re averaging around 20mpg out of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel it’s not a laughing matter. The car was also getting to the age where it would probably require some expensive TLC soon, that and we fancied a change.

We felt a hybrid was just a stop gap – we wanted to go full electric, and so the search started.

We tried an Audi e-tron, and found it to be a very impressive car. It felt in a lot of ways like getting back in our A6, but it just didn’t have that ‘something’ that attracted us to it. This, combined with the fact that I knew more about the car than the sales guy, who incidentally was about 20 years old (showing my age, here) and his aggressive insistence that I take expensive finance meant it was a big no.

So, we started looking at alternatives. Nissan LEAF – too small. Zoe – way too small. Tesla – hmmm…

Better with age

We had previously looked into buying a Tesla a couple of years ago and borrowed a Model S for the weekend. The thing that ultimately put us off at the time was the seats and the ride: both uncomfortable. We were tempted back when I saw the Model 3 in the London Canary Wharf showroom so started talking to the sales guys again.

Unfortunately the Model 3 – being a four-seater saloon did not tick our boxes with respect to the kids and dog. We could have gotten away with four seats, but the dog might have objected to being thrown in a dark boot! The Model X was too big for what we wanted, so we started looking at the Model S again. New or used: that was the question. After lots of investigation we started to move towards a used one, and looking at what spec we wanted.

There are quite a few used ones around, but the problem seems to be twofold. Firstly, they really seem to hold their value, secondly used car dealers seem to have no idea how to market them or even document what they have and haven’t got. In the end we got very close to buying a 17 plate Model S 75D that was highly spec’d, that was until we got a call from the Tesla sales guy.

A number of cars had been released that they wanted to move. We were offered a high spec Model S 100D, unregistered, with free Supercharging for life, and around £20k off! Given this and the fact we were looking to buy a two-year-old one with an average mileage of around £60k, and it was a no brainer. A deposit was put down and a test drive arranged.

We went to test drive a Model S 100D with pretty much the same spec on 12 May – literally every box ticked apart from full self-driving, we also purchased a CHAdeMO adaptor and rubber mats for the front and rear boots. After a two hour test drive on various road conditions the improvements in comfort and air suspension since we last drove one had us sold!

Overall the sales experience with Tesla was amazing. We didn’t need to chase them and we got regular email and phone updates throughout the process. Our only criticism is that they do not give a lot for a part exchange. What we did is agree the part-ex with them but found a better offer so took that instead. My one tip for anyone considering a Tesla, is to use or similar instead of Tesla. We got 33 per cent more for our Audi on there. Obviously we could have perhaps got a bit more if we sold privately but it was a ‘dirty diesel’ so that was a risk we did not want to take.

Range anxiety

What a complete myth! We took the vehicle before we had arranges for a Pod Point home charger to be installed at home. The Pod Point didn’t come until 29 May (we picked up the car 24 May) so we had a number of days where we could only use a three-pin domestic socket or a public charger. And it was not a problem at all!

I took the car to the local GeniePoint charger a mile away from our house to test out the CHAdeMO. It gave us 50kW DC into the car and charged us back to full in about 30 minutes. All in all, a perfect experience. We have also found the range displayed on the car to be extremely accurate. I read recently that someone was saying that the 300 plus mile range was nowhere near correct and more like 200 miles. I drove the 190 miles to Wales and when I got there the range still said approximately 140, so that puts that false information to rest!

1100 miles in

We have now done 1100 miles. It has cost us around £15 in home charging, and other than that we have used destination chargers at hotels (7kW) and Tesla superchargers (120kW) free of charge.

There really is no issue with finding chargers: public, free or destination. Things like Zap-Map are invaluable and the integration of Tesla supercharging into Google Maps in the car means you can see how many free bays are available. Even now we are still finding new features, not to mention what feels like weekly updates with new functionalities! One such feature is that if you navigate to a Tesla supercharger the car pre-warms the battery – reducing charging time by up to 25 per cent.

I can honestly say that the charging part of ownership is no inconvenience at all. Upon returning from Wales I stopped after two and a half hours of driving at South Mimms (where there is 12 superchargers!) and by the time I had had a coffee and a snack I was good to go again!

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Comments (2)


20th Jun 2019 16:56

Great review!


23rd Jun 2019 09:55

Thank you - great review, very informative and interesting to read.

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