Until the Model 3 arrives during the first half of 2019, this Model S 75D is the most affordable Tesla available to UK buyers. This isn’t the version that gets all the column inches and nor is it the model you’ll have seen in countless YouTube videos tearing away from exotic supercars. But it is the cheapest.
Whereas before the entry-level Model S had a single motor and its performance was decent but unremarkable, the 75D has pair of motors, meaning it is four-wheel drive. It also has more power than a Porsche 911 GT3. It might not be the range-topping, attention-grabbing Model S P100D, then, but the humble 75D does have a certain amount of supercar-baiting performance all of its own.
The 75 in 75D refers to the capacity of the battery, in kWh. This model is best suited to drivers who rarely, if ever, cover very big distances. If you do drive further than most and range is your first priority, the Model S 100D - rather than the performance-minded P100D - with its 100 kWh battery is the Tesla for you (although at £94,850 it is more than £20,000 more expensive than this version).
Tesla quotes a range of up to 304 miles for the 75D (compared to 393 miles for the 100D), but so much depends on your driving style, the ambient temperature, what sort of roads you are driving on and how hard the air conditioning is having to work. Rather like conventional combustion-engined cars that rarely seem to meet their claimed fuel economy figures, the quoted range for an electric car should be used as a guide rather than taken as a promise.
Nonetheless, you could stretch the 75D out to 250 miles or so between charges without having to think too hard about the demands you’re making of it. That should make this car perfectly adequate for the vast majority of drivers.
Of course, if you tap into that enormous swell of straight line thrust with any regularity you should expect that figure to come down somewhat. The trouble is, the car’s instant, uninterrupted rush of acceleration is so satisfying that it takes the most abstemious of souls to resist burying the accelerator pedal deep into the carpet as you zip away from every roundabout. Watching the cars around you reduce to mere specs in your rear view mirror is utterly addictive, but no good at all for your battery’s state of charge.
The only significant criticism you could make of this car’s dynamic repertoire is its tight, sometimes unyielding ride quality. Despite its high-spec air suspension the car does crash and thud heavily through potholes and the like, which can be a nuisance at lower speeds. Generally though, the Model S is every bit as comfortable as a high-end executive car should be.
Don’t mistake the cabin’s lack of opulence for a shortage of luxury. You may not find any wood or lavishly ruched hide within the 75D’s cockpit, but in the areas that actually matter - serenity, space, quality, equipment - the Model S is as luxurious as anything else at this price point.
The simple, modernist dashboard is dominated by a vast tablet-style screen, which contains every one of the car’s infotainment functions, as well as the ventilation controls. Allow yourself only five minutes to wander through it various functions and you’ll come away utterly baffled. Try to acquaint yourself with it while out on the road and you’ll think it borderline dangerous. Familiarity is the key. Once you’ve got it sussed, you’ll wonder why you ever doubted it.
Tesla doesn’t build bad cars. Its vehicles might not be to all tastes and their pure EV powertrains will not suit all drivers, but in objective terms Tesla cars are very capable machines. The 75D’s ride could be better and, in places, the exterior build quality doesn’t yet meet the high standards that an established premium car maker would set for itself, but otherwise this is a very difficult car to find fault with.
If the £73,350 list price (before the £4500 government grant for EV cars) falls within budget and your own personal circumstances are well aligned with a real-world electric range of 250 miles, you needn’t look any further.
|Engine/power unit||Twin electric motors, 75 kWh battery|
|Electric range||304 miles|
|Price||£73,350 (before the £4500 government grant)|