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Tesla Model S Review

Avg. critics score: 88.50%

4 critics

How did we calculate this? We analysed and aggregated the scores of AutoCar, Parkers, Evo and Auto Express to bring you the score. This is a comprehensive score that brings together the four different expert ratings you see below.

Critic reviews

WebsiteRatingNotable quotes
Autocar90%"It is, without doubt, the best of its breed (of which there are few), and for a select niche, it will make financial as well as environmental sense."Read more
Parkers84%"It's getting on a bit, but it's still easy to recommend a Tesla Model S. Beyond its good looks, fabulous performance, and silky-smooth drivetrain, the lure of free Supercharging and being able to say you'll never visit another petrol station again are almost irresistible."Read more
Evo90%"Although it's expensive and it exudes a level of luxury and refinement from its chassis and drivetrain that would shame Rolls-Royce, the interior of the Model S is remarkably functional and basic."Read more
Auto Express90%"If you can live with the Tesla's (relatively minor) range limitations, it's one of the most rewarding all-electric experiences around."Read more

How does the Tesla Model S compare with other electric vehicles?

Name Product Finder Score Number of seats Single Charge Range (km) ANCAP rating Price (from) Review
Tesla Model S
5 seats
5 stars
Porsche Taycan
5 seats
5 stars
Tesla Model 3
5 seats
5 stars
Polestar 2
5 seats
5 stars
Hyundai IONIQ
Green Company
Hyundai IONIQ
5 seats
5 stars
Hyundai Kona Electric
5 seats
5 stars
5 seats
5 stars
Nissan Leaf
5 seats
5 stars

Tesla Model S specs and pricing

Tesla offers two Model S variants for the Australian market.

Tesla Model S Long Range

All Model S Teslas available in Australia have AWD, thanks to a dual-motor set-up, one serving each axle. The Long Range model sacrifices some of the sheer speed of the Performance Model S, in favour of extending the distance between charges. Here are some of the key features of the Long Range model:

  • 713km range (NEDC)
  • 19-inch silver alloy wheels
  • Access to Tesla Supercharger network, free
  • 17-inch touchscreen display
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Keyless entry
  • Voice-activated controls
  • Six-metre electric connector with storage bag
  • 12-way, power-adjustable front seats
  • Premium Upgrade Interior Package includes:
    • Premium audio system, tailored for the noise-deadened interior
    • Heated seats for all passengers
    • Heated steering wheel
    • Windscreen wiper defrosters
    • Heated washer nozzles
    • Figured ash wood trim pieces
    • High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) – screens out viruses, bacteria and exterior odours
    • One year premium connectivity – Satellite maps with live traffic visualisation, Internet music/media streaming, increased frequency wireless (cellular) vehicle software updates and Internet browser
  • Bluetooth® audio streaming
  • LED fog lamps
  • LED turning lamps
  • Ultraviolet, infra-red filtering tinted glass
  • Auto-dimming, power-folding, heated side mirrors
  • Custom driver profiles
  • Autopilot – Car steers, accelerates and brakes automatically for other vehicles and pedestrians within the lane
  • 5-star ANCAP rating
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • All-black interior with figured ash wood trim pieces

The Model S sits quite comfortably in the executive/luxury sedan market. The asking price reflects this, as it starts from $148,935 drive-away. That's with the solitary free paint option – Pearl White Multi-Coat.

Tesla Model S Performance

The Performance model sacrifices range, in favour of speed.

  • 671km range (NEDC)
  • Quicker acceleration: 0/100km/h in 2.6 seconds
  • Ludicrous mode
  • Carbon fibre spoiler
  • Option of two extra interior permutations, All Black with Carbon fibre Décor, or the Black and White interior with carbon fibre inserts

For the Model S Performance, Tesla asks from $174,870 drive-away.

Click on a price to compare car loans for the Tesla Model S.

Long RangePerformance
713km NEDC range, premium interior, AWD: $148,935 drive-away671km NEDC range, complete premium interior, AWD: $174,870 drive-away

The no-cost paint option is Pearl White Multi-Coat.

Other paint colours are priced between $2,200–$3,700.

  • Solid Black ($2,200)
  • Midnight Silver Metallic ($2,200)
  • Deep Blue Metallic ($2,200)
  • Red Multi-Coat ($3,700)
The drive-away prices are taken from Tesla Australia's website. They include stamp duty, local rego costs, CTP and plate fees, plus delivery costs. Figures are based on a clean record-holding 40-year-old driver.


The Tesla Model S is possibly the first mainstream electric car to achieve serious traction. It's backed by a decent charging network, it's got the chops of a luxury sedan and it's seriously fast. It even has the best range. Car reviewers found it was innovative. Some buyers love the cheeky and refreshing attitude Tesla takes, compared to the well-established car marques. You see that in the fun little "easter eggs" hidden away in the car's infotainment system.
If you're looking for a luxury electric sedan, there's little else to think about. Apart from the upcoming Taycan...
WebsiteProsConsNotable quote
  • Useful real-world range
  • Quiet, premium interior
  • Classy
  • Charging times
  • Steering feel
  • Cautious drivetrain
"The Tesla Model S brings credibility, luxury and useful range to the electric car market."
  • Rival beating tech
  • Free Supercharging
  • Extremely practical cabin
  • Realistic range
  • Physical size for city centres
  • Minimalist interior
  • Doesn't suit everyone
"This is a real contender, and something of a game changer. The Model S has been largely responsible for consumers warming to the idea of an electric vehicle with so few compromises. Although many might consider it a bit of a warm-up act for the Model 3, and one that's been around since 2012, it's still a highly recommended choice."
  • Stunning acceleration
  • Running costs
  • Feeling of disconnect as a result of regen brakes
"Not that long ago, that would have been a dire and scary proposition, but electric cars have gone through a renaissance and now some are even becoming desirable. This change of reputation is, in part, thanks to Tesla and its venerable Model S; a premium, fast and usable electric saloon car."
Auto Express
  • Excellent EV range
  • Calming drive
  • Rapid acceleration
  • Charging options
  • Price
  • Cornering ability
"...while it's loaded with digital technology and has a futuristic feel, the Model S is roomy and practical too."

Motor and performance

The Model S comes with dual electric motors.

Tesla Model S motors

The Tesla motors are highly prized and engineered objects. Aftermarket EV converters seek them out, as they make huge amounts of power.

Front motor

The front motor is a permanent magnet synchronous type and it is liquid-cooled. It also features variable frequency drive. According to the Tesla brochure, it is rated for 205kW on both the Long Range and Performance Model S. Torque for the pointy end's power source is an impressive 420Nm. On its own, that is decent. But, there's a second motor on the rear axle....

Rear motor

The rear motor, when installed in Long Range Model S variants produces 193kW and 335Nm. However, the Performance Model S really stands out, as its configuration is rated for 375kW and 720Nm! No doubt it's this mega motor that drives the Performance model to such ridiculous 0/100km/h times.

Tesla Model S transmission

The Tesla Model S has a single-speed, fixed-gear transmission.

Tesla Model S battery

The battery system on the Model S has a nominal voltage of 350 volts. It is a Li-ion type, commonly used in electric vehicles. Tesla liquid cools the pack to maintain performance and protect the battery from extreme temperatures.

Car reviewers' impressions of the Tesla Model S engine and transmission line-up

Car reviewers were unanimously bowled over by the sheer speed of the Tesla Model S, it's extremely rapid.
What really shocked them though, was that it would be difficult to cram everything the car has into a similar vehicle with an internal combustion engine. It truly is an unmatched car right now. Testers described the car as a treat to drive, with an immediate kick of speed. Others described the car as a bit ferocious. It's not often you hear a motoring journalist use that kind of language.

However, you don't have to drive the Model S like a V8 Supercar, you can switch it into Standard or Chill mode for a more relaxed cruise around. Looking at the manual, there are several drive modes, including Sport (on Performance models), Insane (turns the torque up 30%) and Ludicrous (cranks the dial up 60%). Two other settings, Insane+ and Ludicrous+ appear to do the same thing, but additionally warm up the battery to an ideal working temperature, giving 100% of the available power. Many of these settings are designed as short term options.

With a 0-100km/h time of just 2.6 seconds, the Model S Performance is as fast as the Lamborghini Aventador SV supercar or the McLaren P1 hypercar.

Like every good sports car, the Model S has a launch mode (available on the Performance model).

In summary, it seems the Model S is multi-tool. It can wear the clothes of a relaxed and laid back daily driver, but underneath it's always wearing racing overalls and poised to jump at a moment's notice. One journo did point out something really important, just like driving a conventional car in a spirited manner, you're going to use more energy than if you were to take things easy.

Tesla Model S engine and transmission figures

Long RangePerformance
Motor typeFront motor: AC permanent magnet synchronous motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Rear motor: AC induction motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Front motor: AC permanent magnet synchronous motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Rear motor: AC induction motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Motor amps
Not listed
Maximum revs
Not listed
Rear motor power193 kW375 kW
Rear motor torque335Nm720Nm
Front motor power205 kW205 kW
Front motor torque420Nm420Nm
Nominal battery voltage
Acceleration (0–100km/h)3.8 seconds2.6 seconds
Top speed
Range (NEDC)713km671km
Sentry mode
Single-speed fixed-gear, small motor ratio: 9.325:1; large motor ratio: 9.734:1

Tesla Model S energy economy and emissions

We source all of our energy consumption figures from the Green Vehicle Guide, it helps keep the information across our reviews consistent.

Model S Long Range

According to the Green Vehicle Guide, per kilometre, the Standard Range Model S uses 163Wh. Factoring in the fuel life cycle CO2, the Model S is responsible for about 147g/km. This figure takes into account the CO2 produced while generating the electricity needed to charge the car. The Model S, as a pure EV, releases zero tailpipe emissions.
The website estimates you'd spend $683 on electricity annually to travel 14,000km, with 66% urban driving.

Model S Performance

The Performance Model S, with its more powerful motors, has a lower range and uses more energy. Per kilometre, the Performance variant will burn through 170Wh, compared to 163 on the Standard. It also produces a few extra grams of CO2 per kilometre, at 153g of fuel lifecycle emissions.

If you travel 14,000km in a year, two-thirds of which on urban roads, you'd spend approximately $714 on electricity. That could be a substantial saving over a similarly sized internal combustion engine vehicle.

Tesla's official figures are a result of NEDC testing procedures. This lab-based test was created in the 1980s, based on European driving conditions. It's possible to use the NEDC figure to determine a car's potential range, but the more modern WLTP testing protocol feeds in variables to better reflect real-world driving conditions. Those include European average temperatures, as well as longer test distances and a greater range of road types.

There's almost always a slight discord between factory official numbers and the energy consumption experienced on actual public roads. That's true for both fossil-fuel-powered cars and EVs. How does the Tesla Model S match up then?

It seems the NEDC numbers are probably a little out of reach, but the Model S still has one of (if not the) longest range of any currently available all-electric vehicle. As almost all reviewers pointed out, the Model S has enough battery capacity to easily cover several days of the average commute.

With the Model S, you get access to the Supercharging network for free. There's a concentration of them on the coast in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and around population hubs like Adelaide and Perth. There are approximately 675 Tesla charging locations listed on the Tesla website.

Tesla has a handy route planner that helps you plot a journey. As an example, we wanted to see how long it would take to drive from Sydney to Adelaide. Tesla says it would take just over 19 hours, with five stops for charging required along the way. The stops vary in length from 25 minutes to an hour.


Some journos said this was the weakest point of the Tesla. However, it must be noted that motoring journalists are rather critical (it's their job after all) towards a car's ride dynamics. It is entirely possible that an everyday motorist would not even notice some of these characteristics, especially on typical public roads and under highway speed limits.

With that out of the way, journos described the ride as unexciting – to a degree. One did concede that most buyers will not be remotely bothered by this. Others noted you can feel the larger dimensions of the Model S on twisty roads. It was observed that Tesla is doing a remarkable job in this area, considering its age compared to established rivals. Another motoring expert felt that with the battery pack housed low down in the car, it helped keep the body planted and minimised wallowing movements.

To sum up, it's a car that favours comfort and usability, so the handling is softer around the edges. The brakes are also reported to be nice and sharp, which is a requirement, given the car's breakneck acceleration. Like most other electric cars, the Model S has regen braking, which takes some getting used to but car reviewers said they enjoyed it when dropped into its highest setting. In that configuration, you hardly need to touch the brake, as the car slows itself.

Interior and equipment

The Model S falls into the luxury sedan category, with competitors including the firmly established BMW 5 series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. As a result, buyers are going to have high expectations for features, passenger comforts and safety assists. It would appear that Tesla easily steps up to the mark there.

The interior is quite unlike anything on the market, with a massive (17-inch) tablet-like touchscreen mounted in the centre of the dashboard managing most of the car's controls. The driver also has a TFT digital dash, but other than that, it is very sleek and ultra-minimalist. There were some concerns raised on the quality of materials used, with journalists relating how they appeared good quality from a distance, but up close they don't hold up quite as well.

Thanks to the air suspension, it turns out the Tesla Model S is ultra-comfortable. Car reviewers explained it's also a quiet place to be, thanks in part to the electric motors. With an electric motor, there's one moving part. With an internal combustion engine, there are hundreds of moving parts, clanging away at thousands of revs per minute. No wonder even the most modest internal combustion engine car still produces a relative tailpipe cacophony when held against the gently whirring Model S.

Motoring experts also tested the Model S in terms of practicality. And it fared very well. There's the useful frunk (front trunk, though we think it should be called a froot – front boot), which serves as a handy place to keep your charging cables. Then there's a roomy glove box and a jumbo boot. Seriously, the Model S has 804.2 litres of boot capacity, with the seats up. With them folded flat, it opens to 1,645.2 litres. That's bigger than some wagons and SUVs! The front trunk adds an extra 59.5 litres.

Overall, it seems to tick all the boxes, just in a slightly less than conventional way. Some of the interior components reportedly don't have a lot of heft to them, but who really cares about that? Tesla is trying something different here and that approach seems to have won over at least some of the motoring journalists panel.

Tesla Model S Long Range

The Model S Long Range is equipped with the following:

  • AWD
  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Free unlimited Supercharging
  • 17-inch touchscreen and separate driver display
  • Heated front seats, with 12-way power adjustability and memory function
  • Advanced air filtration system
  • 6 airbags through cabin
  • Heated rear seats
  • Mobile app connectivity
  • 11-speaker audio system
  • Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Auto-dimming mirrors
  • On-board mobile Internet
  • Keyless entry
  • Voice-activated controls
  • Reversing camera
  • Retracting, illuminated door handles
  • Auto-dimming mirrors

According to ANCAP, the Model S has the following safety features:

  • Airbags for:
    • Driver frontal
    • Passenger frontal
    • Side, front seat chest
    • Side, head protection – front seats
    • Side, head protection for second row
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Automatic headlights
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Emergency Brake Assist (EBA))
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Lane Support System (LSS)
  • Reversing collision avoidance
  • Speed assistance – manual speed limiter
  • Speed sign recognition and warning
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • Roll stability system
  • Rollover occupant protection system

Those safety assists resulted in the car getting a 5-star ANCAP rating when tested back in 2015.

Tesla Model S Performance AWD

The sportier Model S Performance gets features that make it quicker and better able to handle the speed it possesses. Those features include an enhanced interior styling package (with the option of different trim pieces), a carbon fibre spoiler and Ludicrous mode.

Tesla Autopilot, full self-driving option

For those looking to make use of Tesla's more heavily automated mode, you'll need to pay $8,500.

Full self-driving mode enables the car to navigate on Autopilot from highway entries and exits, including overtakes. It also automatically changes lanes, can park itself and has a summon feature. The latter allows you to call your car from the garage for example. Next year, Tesla expects to introduce traffic lights and stop sign recognition, as well as appropriate responses. It also promises automatic driving on city streets.

Every Tesla Model S on sale in Australia comes with Autopilot. The system is reportedly made up of rear, side and forward-facing cameras for 360-degree coverage. A forward-facing radar has a reach of 160 metres. There are also 12 ultrasonic sensors dotted around the car. In standard form, Autopilot allows the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its own lane. Drivers currently have to oversee the car's functions, and several laws will need amending and establishing to permit fully autonomous vehicle-usage on the road.

Tesla Model S safety, security and driver assists

Long RangePerformance
5-star ANCAP rating
  • Driver frontal
  • Passenger frontal
  • Side, chest front seats
  • Side, head protection front seats
  • Side, head protection for second row
Keyless entry
Remote climate control/dog mode
Automatic flashing emergency brake lights
Cabin overheat protection
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Brake disc wiping
Adjustable regenerative braking
Electronic brake-pressure distribution (EBD)
Hill-start assist (HSA)
Two rear ISOFIX child seat mounts
Daytime Running Lights
LED fog lamps
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Intelligent seat belt reminder
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Automatic headlights
Automatic high beam
Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
Emergency Braking Assist (EBA)
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane Support System (LSS)
Reverse collision avoidance (camera)
Speed assistance (manual speed limiter, speed sign recognition and warning)
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Sentry security cameras recording

Tesla Model S interior and comfort features

Long RangePerformance
17-inch central command touchscreen, with infotainment, climate and other controls
12-way power-adjustable heated front seats
Premium seat material and trim
Upgraded audio
Centre console with storage, four USB ports and docking for two smartphones
Heated front and rear seats
Premium audio with 11 speakers
Premium connectivity (one year included)
  • Satellite maps with live traffic visualisation
  • In-car Internet streaming music and media
  • More frequent over-the-air updates via cellular
  • Internet browser
Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infra-red attenuation
Music and media over Bluetooth
Custom driver profiles

Tesla Model S key information

Long RangePerformance
18-inch Aero wheels
Range (NEDC)713km671km
Battery (Estimated)
LED fog lamps
MirrorsPower folding, auto-dimming and heatedPower folding, auto-dimming and heated
Acceleration (0–100km/h)3.8 seconds2.6 seconds
Dual, front and rear
5 seats
Not listed
Carbon fibre spoiler✖️


It's got the best range of any electric car, it has seriously modern looks, a luxury interior, some cool features and a fresh upstart brand behind it. The Tesla Model S is comfortably into six figures and buyers' expectations are high at this price point. Fortunately, it seems from the findings of motoring experts that the car manages to successfully marry a luxury sedan and a battery-electric vehicle.

If you're a bit put off by the price, you might look at its younger sibling, the more budget-friendly Model 3.

You could save a lot of cash by taking a few moments to use a personal loan calculator. The Model S starts over $150,000, so use our calculator below and see how much the electric car will cost per month.

While you are comparing car loans, don't forget to compare car insurance. By shopping around on both you could potentially save thousands during your time with the Tesla Model S.

Compare some options to finance a Tesla Model S

Pictures: Tesla

Ben Gribbin's headshot
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Ben Gribbin is an experienced automotive writer and life-long car enthusiast with a passion for restoring classic vehicles. He brings many years of experience working with and writing about cars to Finder. See full bio

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