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2014 Tesla Model S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Tesla Model S was new.


Performance: 8.7

Test drivers say the 2014 Tesla Model S is very enjoyable to drive, delivering instantaneous acceleration, a compliant ride and remarkably controlled handling.

  • "Whether you're attracted to the affordable base model or go all-in for a fully loaded P85 version, you're assured of one of the most noteworthy cars since the introduction of the Ford Model T. Better yet, the Tesla is nearly sacrifice-free, as it rides and drives as well as some of the world's best luxury sedans." -- Edmunds
  • "If you're looking for a mean, green machine, the 2014 Tesla Model S fills the bill. It's the car to be seen in, but it's wickedly more fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Where the Model S really shines is in its performance." -- Left Lane News
  • "When you're in a supercar-fast electric car like the Tesla, the driving experience is an odd cognitive mash-up-somewhere between shouting Greenpeace-approved obscenities at Toyota Priuses and dusting Corvettes from stoplights on a cruise night." -- Road and Track (2013)

Acceleration and Power 

The 2014 Tesla Model S comes in 60, 85 and P85 models, which feature electric motors that provide 302, 362 and 416 horsepower, in that order. A single-speed transmission is standard. Tesla says the P85 model has a top speed of 130 mph, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. According to the EPA, the Model S 60 gets 94/97 mpg-equivalent city/highway and has a 208-mile range, while the Model S 85 gets 88/90 mpg-equivalent and has a 265-mile range.

Reviewers agree that the 2014 Model S offers thrilling power from a stop and on the highway, where its responsive electric motor makes it easy to pass and merge. Some note that its instant power delivery makes it feel quicker than high-end luxury sports cars, while others report that the Model S is exceptionally quiet at speed.

  • "Acceleration is both quick and eerily quiet. With all torque being immediately available, it's like being shot out of a gun barrel -- with a silencer." -- Edmunds (Model S P85)
  • "On the freeway, the Tesla Model S moves effortlessly and has abundant power to overtake slower traffic. The omission of engine growl inside the passenger compartment takes some getting used to, but the silence is quickly welcomed, especially when making phone calls using the Bluetooth hands-free system." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "When you floor the accelerator on a conventional car, the airflow has to increase, the turbos must spool up, and the transmission unlocks its torque converter and usually downshifts. In the Model S, you're shoved into your seat right now, with an immediacy that no Corvette, Ferrari, or Porsche can match." -- Car and Driver (2013 Model S P85)
  • "It goes beyond the impressive spec: It's the immediate rush of off-the-line acceleration that buries you in the backrest in ways gas-powered cars don't - even if their zero-to-60 times match." -- Cars.com (2012 Model S P85)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The 2014 Tesla Model S comes with a single charger that has connectors for 110- and 240-volt outlets, as well as an adapter for public charging stations. Tesla says that the Model S gets 3 miles of range for each hour it charges with a standard 110-volt household outlet. Depending on the type of outlet, plugging into a 240-volt power source gives the Model S either 17 or 29 miles of range for each hour of charge time. An optional dual charger provides 58 miles of range per hour of charging. Tesla supercharger stations can provide 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. Supercharging capability and lifetime Supercharger access come standard with 85 kWh models and are available with the 60 kWh model.

Handling and Braking

The 2014 Tesla Model S is available with an adjustable air suspension, which earns praise for providing an exceptionally comfortable ride. The Model S also impresses critics with its responsive steering, strong brakes and remarkably poised handling.

  • "Braking is also praiseworthy, not just because the pedal feels like one from a conventional car, but also because it gets the Model S stopped with authority." -- Edmunds
  • "With the battery packs in the floor and no heavy combustion engine up front, the Model S retains a low center of gravity that, coupled with its quick steering ratio, permits extreme stability in turns with very little lean." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The payoff is a car that rolls and pitches very little in spite of dampers and air springs calibrated for a supple ride. Driven hard on a country road, the Model S is well-planted, with nary a creak or groan from its structure even on bumpy pavement." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The Model S Signature and Performance models ride on height-adjustable air shocks that soak up every bump. We didn't once encounter a pavement imperfection large enough to strike the bump stops. Body motions are controlled so well we had a hard time even noticing any." -- Road and Track (2013)

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