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Nearly-new buying guide: Tesla Model S

Autocar 2020-07-30 11:24:52

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Share story News by Doug Revolta 3 mins read 30 July 2020 Follow @DougRevolta

No doubt you’ll have opinions of the bloke himself, but it says a lot about foresight that the oldest model in Tesla’s current line-up still feels fiercely futuristic compared with almost any other new car.

In fact, even if you buy a six-year-old , it’s more cutting-edge and innovative than many of the modern alternatives, whether they’re engine-powered or electric.

And while some versions of the Model S asked for north of £100,000 when new, you’ll find that used ones start from just £30,000 today. No matter the model you go for, you’ll get a big car that handles tidily, rides nicely and has a dose of luxury to go with its sizeable electric advantages.

Used market prices start with a 60 or 80 model from 2014 with one motor driving the rear wheels. For a big boost in performance (and, in most cases, range), look out for later cars with a D suffix, which indicates dual motors and four-wheel drive.

Of the lot, the 75D makes the most sense, with prices starting at around £40,000. It will be able to cover more than 200 miles from a full charge in real-world driving conditions and still crack 0-60mph in a staggering 4.3sec.

But if you’re hell-bent on speed, try the P100D with Ludicrous mode (or P100DL in slang). You will obliterate 0-60mph in 2.5sec and never meet anything faster than you on the road. This version is scarce, though, so don’t dither if you find one; prices start from around £65,000.

While Tesla’s headline-grabbing performance figures are a major draw, its charging infrastructure solution should appeal more. With its Supercharger network, you’ll have access to 500-plus charging stations at more than 60 destinations around the country and pick up a 10-80% charge in as little as half an hour. Plus, the used Model S you’ve found may be able to use them for free; ask to see the Tesla account linked to the car to find out.

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If you do that, you’ll also get a handle on what ‘self-driving’ abilities your car has. This gets complicated, because the Autopilot system (which includes lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control) has changed definition and names down the years and didn’t always come as standard.

You may also see Full Self-Driving Capability, which allows the Model S to park itself, change lanes on the motorway and even be controlled at very low speeds from a smartphone. Plus, it enables the car to recognise stop signs and traffic lights and come to a standstill. It will also be able to use Autopilot to navigate around cities – once the tech and law allow.

You need Autopilot 2.0 to support Full Self-Driving Capability, so a car built from late 2016 onwards. And even if the Model S you fancy doesn’t have this tech, you can add it over the air for a fee.

Need to know

The latest Model S variants are badged Long Range and Performance, but they’re so new that you won’t find many for sale.

There was a seven-seat option for the Model S, but cars with this are very rare on the used market.

There are signs of gradual improvement, but overall Tesla has a dreadful record for reliability.

Every Model S comes with an eight-year, unlimited-mileage warranty covering its battery pack, while the car itself gets a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

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A light facelift in 2016 brought a new front end without an imitation grille surround and the Bioweapon Defence Mode air filtration system.

Our pick

75D: With great range and great performance, this is a fine example of an electric car that’s exciting to drive and easy to live with. Still goes toe to toe with any other modern EV.

Wild card

P100D Ludicrous: Not just ludicrous but also maddeningly, frighteningly rapid beyond all reason. It’s the Model S to have if you crave ultimate performance bragging rights, even if you’ll need access to a disused airfield to be able to make full use of its pace.

Ones we found

2014 Model S 85, 79,000 miles, £29,995

2016 Model S 75D, 48,000 miles, £41,995

2017 Model S P100D Ludicrous, 31,500 miles, £65,000

2019 Model S Performance, 2484 miles, £92,950



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