Tesla Model S: Overpriced, Slow and Impractical

Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk, threw one of typical hissy fits when motor journalist John M. Broder wrote a critical article of the Tesla Model S in the New York Times article, pointing out that pointing out that it ran out of battery and needing towing. For those who don’t know Musk unsuccessfully tried to sue the BBC for malicious falsehood and libel over of a very fair Top Gear review of the Lotus Elise based Tesla Roadster that they accurately reported couldn’t do more than 55 miles on their track without recharging. The judge threw out both the libel and malicious falsehood actions.  Musk’s accusations against both review is essentially they drove to fast for precious vehicles.

Wait a minute; isn’t the entire point of a sports sedan like the Tesla S that it can be driven fast down the freeway?!!

Apparently not! Or at least not in a Tesla.

The Tesla S can only make its maximum range driving at an asthmatic 55 mph. So if you’re prepared to fork out $52,400 on the entry-level 40 kWh model S you can expect to make a measly 160 miles before the car needs several hours of recharging.  If you can stretch to $62,400 for the mid level 60 kWh model S, you can extend that to a slightly better 230 miles. For an additional $2000 you have it fitted with a supercharger to reduce charging time. The two range topping 85 kWh ($72,400) and 85 kWh Performance  ($87,400) can both manage 300 miles at 55 mph before they need to recharge. They both come with a supercharger as standard. Whoopee!  So if you’re prepared to between $70,000 and $90,000 to drive along the freeway at 55 mph you can make 300 miles on a good day before stopping for several hours to recharge.

Obviously if you’re travelling at 80 mph or more down a freeways you’ll need a tow truck following because you’ll run out of power between charge points. And if you’re planing on using it in Europe travelling well over 100 mph — forget about it!

According to Ana Kasparian the Tesla model S is a “very luxurious car” (F segment). Really?!!  The interior looks pretty spartan for a luxury car to me. It’s certainly no comparison to the Maserati Quattroporte GTS or Aston Martin Rapide S. My guess is the Tesla model S is supposed to be sports sedan or executive car (E segment).

However, with a base price between $52 400 and $87,400, depending on which model you opt for, the Tesla model S is incredibly overpriced. This car clearly doesn’t have the range for freeway driving and it’s both far too big and pricey to be a practical city runaround. If you really wanted an E-car t as a city runaround there are alternatives.  The FIAT 500e and Nissan Leaf are both much more realistic options because they are small, agile and relatively cheap city cars.

Another problem with the Tesla S is performance. It has good acceleration when it’s fully charged and working — but that’s not going to be often — but when the battery starts running low, so will the performance. Also and more importantly for a sports Sedan the top speed is dire. The 40 kWh engine can only manage 110 mph! That’s only 3 mph faster than the FIAT 500 with the 0.9 TwinAir dualogic engine, which is a lot cheaper, good on the environment, better around the city, and only takes a couple of minutes to refill. But even worse the top of the range Tesla model S 85 kWh Performance only has a top speed of 130 mph! Bearing in mind it won’t get anywhere near that  speed when its running low on battery, which inevitable it will if you try to take it near the top end. So you would be spending $87,400 on a sports sedan that can’t be driven fast.

By way of comparison its competitors, the BMW M5 is electronically limited to 155 mph, the Jaguar XFR-S does 186 mph and if we’re comparing it to super limos, the Maserati Quattroporte GTS does a 191 mph. But actually, the Tesla S under performs against much cheaper and smaller cars. The range topping model S 85 kWh Performance only has the same top speed as the Abarth 595, and is marginally slower than the Abarth Punto Supersport and Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde. It’s also a lot slower than the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde which has a top speed of 150 mph.

I accept that a lot of environmentalists who jerk off thinking about the Tesla S zero emissions might not think that speed matters much but it matters to consumers.

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26 thoughts on “Tesla Model S: Overpriced, Slow and Impractical

  1. See, over here 110 is very fast. In Florida you can do 70 on the expessway and 65 on the interstate or freeway. Some people drive 80 but not 110 or 191!

    • I accept that most Americans drive very slowly but if you’re shelling out $50K on a sedan you expect a top speed of more than 110 mph surely?

      I don’t drive over 130 mph on the autostrada, or very rarely, but that’s not really the main point. If you drive this car over 55 mph it’s going to lose power, slow down then die. Have you had an… battery operated device… slowly die on you? ;)

      So even doing only 80 mph this car would rapidly start losing power and speed. The you would be forced to drive 55 mph before it died and you needed to call the tow truck.

  2. The car is way too expensive for a sedan. I’ll stick with my Fiat 500. What are you driving now?

    • At the moment an Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio or Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde, or I borrow Rob’s Abarth 595 competizione or Abarth Punto Supersport.

    • I have Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde too and FIAT 500 like you. I got Iveco Daily van but most I like moto. I have Guzzi Stelvio NTX, Ducati Monster Diesel and TM EN 530 F

      • We’re including bikes? I’ve got a Vespa GTS SuperSport 300ie. Amica’s got an Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 but Rob’s got 5 motorcycles: Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS, Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC, Aprilia SXV 5.5, Guzzi V7 Stone and Guzzi Norge GT 8V.

  3. I hate all this freaking green bullshit. Electric cars and hybrids are so stupid. The Fisker Karma costs €85, max speed 200 km/h, and max range 180km/h. Then you gotta use the petrol engine. What a freaking joke.

    • He doesn’t! He has a superbike for track and autostrada, the Norge touring, the supermoto for hill climbs and hooligan riding, the street fighter for fast travel around the city, and the V7 for his sister to borrow. :)

  4. Um… really? 0-60 in 4 seconds is too slow? When the battery is low it decreases speed? Really? Based on what? Not one reviewer (See R&T, C&D, even The New York Times) has found that to be the case and as an engineer it would make no logical sense.

    This car (if you look, you’ll see that everyone else who’s tried doing D.C. to Boston was successful) does 265 miles/charge – 200 even when flooring it. It outruns a Porsche 911, M5, or Maserati, and is beautiful besides.

    I’ve driven one and can guarantee that slow doesn’t ever enter into the vernacular. Also, with almost no moving parts, it is very unlikely to have huge reliability issues – although the jury is certainly still out.

    If you don’t like something – at least make it based on some level of fact base.

    • Jason
      Lets have it right. The Maserati Quattroporte GTS does over 190 mph. So the Tesla S Performante is not only a lot fucking slower, it couldn’t even keep up with a Alfa Romeo Giullietta TCT, let alone a Quadrifoglio Verde. The standard Tesla S only goes a 110 mph. At that speed I might as well be peddling it.

      Also, everything Stefi said about this car is right. The manufacturer’s range is based on a full charge and driving at 55 mph. So in the REAL WORLD you can’t even drive this car at 60 mph without reducing the range, and a 110 mph is going to be unachievable between power stations. Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t let you drive over 55 mph but in Italy that’s not an acceptable speed to be driving on the autostrada.

      As for performance not decreasing, you’re not much an engineer if you don’t know that when the battery dies the car reduces speed to nothing and that the faster you go the more power you use. Also the batteries will lose charge if they’re not constantly plugged in to a power station.

      BTW the Tesla Roadster was tested by Top Gear and it couldn’t do more than 55 miles on their track and it had piss poor reliability and awful handling because of the poor weight distribution. Anyone who buys a Tesla S is fucking stupid.

    • @ Jason

      Your the one making up facts. The Tesla S Performance doesn’t do 200 miles at 130 mph. Tesla doesn’t even claim that. Nor can the Tesla S Performance (0-100km/h in 4.6 sec and max velocity 210 km/h) outrun a BMW M5 (0-100km/h in 4.3 and max velocity 250 km/h) Maserati Quattroporte GTS (0-100km/h in 4.7 and max velocity 307 km/h), or Porsche 911 GT3 (0-100km/h in 3.5 sec and max velocity 315 km/h). At top speed it will be outrun at a rate of 666 metres per minute by the M5, 1616 metres per minute by the Quattroporte GTS and 1750 metres per minute by the 911 GT3. I repeat — it is very slow for a performance car.

      I haven’t driven the Tesla S Performance and I doubt I ever will. I’ve previously owned a Maserati Quattroporte GTS, Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet and I’ve also driven among other things Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari FF, Aston Martin Rapide S, Bentley Continental GT V8, BMW M5, Merc E63 AMG, Jaguar XFR-S. So I have some idea what to expect from a performance car and the Tesla S Performance doest deliver in performance, mileage, practicality, design, or reliability. It’s also ugly and from what I’ve seen looks heavy turning in.

    • The Lamborghini LP700 Aventador is a fast car

      And the Audi RS6 is no slouch

      The Tesla S is slow as fuck

    • In european or japanese cars you have usually also no reliability issues the first years ( 60 000 miles ). the heavy weight of the Tesla might cause some problems… but to early to judge.

      And in germany 40 000 EUR over an BMW 7 Hybrid…amazing

      • I agree, the weight is also going to cause handling issues, especially around tight slow corners. The price is astronomical for the car’s capabilities.

  5. It’s refreshing to see someone who calls it like it is instead of kissing Musk and the enviroqueers asses. Tesla cars are are overrated, overpriced and impractical yet the media is making it out to be the ultimate car. The Volt is the best executed electric car because GM knows battery tech is not where it needs to be so they have a gas engine for backup. Tesla cars are totaled if you run the battery out and neither your insurance or Tesla will pay for the $50,000 + repair costs.

    • I completely agree. Tesla has backed the wrong horse: hybrids, natural power, diesel and more efficient petrol cars are the direction the motor industry and consumers are moving in. By the time the world goes electric Tesla won’t be around. I think the reason the American media are pro Tesla (they’re not in Europe) is because Musk is incredibly litigious. I just don’t see how the US media can continue to talk up this car, the public obviously don’t think so because they are not buying it outside California.

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