This guide talks you through the choices when buying a new Tesla. Like this whole site, it tries to give an unbiased view rather than just repeat what Tesla’s own web site publishes. Also remember to use a Referral code to get a credit towards super charging. We've also a short guide buying a used Tesla wich may be preferable if thats what you're planning to do. Also don't miss our extensive listings of all the cars for sale including Teslas New and ex demo inventory.
Buying new no longer comes with unlimited free supercharging, even with a referral. There are however benefits for company car drivers in coming years. The BIK will be dropping to 2% from 2020 although it is pretty steep until then.
Tesla currently have 3 models although only 2 are available to order in the UK.
Ignoring the Roadster, the Model S is the first production Tesla to reach any production volumes. The car is large inside and capapable and handles well in comparison to the MX.
The exterior looks have remained pretty much unchanged since 2016 and has that smooth front appearance.
While the basic interior has changed little, cars since mid 2017 come with a version of seats which are more like the next generation seats but with a few tweaks. The material choice is pretty varied too, there have been various leather, fake leather, "vegan" and cloth seats over the years. Tesla don;t use real Leather anymore.
The various cabin components have all been tweaked over time to give a better finish, there is now a centre console (introduced during 2016) and rear cup holders, but it's no premium German car although some like its more minimalist styling. The rear is great and 3 can sit comfortably in the back. It's also available as a 7 seater with 2 small seats in the boot but these are limited to small people (ie children) but the absence of heating or ventilation can make them a bit uncomfortable.
The car with the Falcon doors and the size of, well, the millennium falcon. It's the Tesla SUV and its huge. Built on pretty much the same platform as the Model S it shares many of the same good and bad points.
The exterior is just big. Lots of styling from the model S but in a bigger shape with that enormous windscreen. No modifications significant changes yet. The doors have given some owners issues as they didn't work well on anything but a level surface and its rumoured that Tesla deactivated some of the sensors to make them more reliable.
It's big and spacious and various seating options to suit all tastes including a third row and combinations of individual seats and a bench. The quality feels a touch better than the Model S but as Tesla continually improve, that quality will start coming through on that car too, for instance the Model X seats are now on the Model S. The dash is all but identical to the Model S. Regarding the seat options there are 5, 6 and 7 seat combinations and the rear bench also changed to become folding. It's worth checking what it can do on any particular car before buying and assume that the seats all fold magically into the floor for a cavernous cargo bay.
The car is now in production and deliveries are happening in the US. Reviews are generally good although there are quirks and some issues being reported. It won't be reaching the UK until the end of 2019 at the earliest and we believe it may even be 2020 as there is a degree of engineering that needs to be done on the production line to move to right hand drive
Currently only a few of the more expensive variants are in production such as the performance model and the long range versions available. Options are limited, colours are increasingly limited, but may of these things are changing slowly as production increases. It way well be easier and smarter to just buy a used MS in the UK.
We've drawn all the technology together into one section as it's common to all the current production cars.
The fabled high tech cars are actually a mixture of actually quite old immature tech and fantastic innovation. The sat nav used to be a relatively standard, cheap affair that was superimposed onto a google map. It looked a lot better than it was. Its now been replaced with a Tesla version (in software 8.1) and while better, that too is not great. It's steadily improving and V9 is said to bring further enhancements.
DAB and Spotify are both poorly implemented with everything from tuning in not working half the time to displaying DAB text missing, its a frustration. Spotify can often hang and its a feature of the frequent software updates that things get worse and then better and then worse again.
Autopilot boils down to 3 choices for new owners; Not option it, Enhanced Autopilot or EAP on cars from the end of 2016 which to all intents and purposes does similar things to AP1, and Full Self Driving which doesn't exist yet. It's widely expected that the hardware will no not support FSD despite the promises. If the car has the FSD option, it does guarantee you free hardware upgrades as required, but other than that, its hard to see the justification for option given how little we've heard of its features yet. The only exception is in V9, its understood that the cameras can be used as some form of dashcam with HW2.5
Its also worth pointing out what the car doesn't have. It currently doesn't have surround car view, head up display, suspension that you can change the comfort level over, only the ride height, a dynamic cockpit display, Apple Car play or the Google equivalent, you can hopefully see that in some respects the technology is variable depending on the features you want.
I guess people are buying for the name because we know very little and the competition are already getting close to the model 3 claims today. The i3 has 150-mile range, soon to be increasing to 200 miles, and with the REX, over 200. The Leaf is getting up there too. The Hyundai Kona is getting pretty impressive reviews. And lets not forget the Jaguar i-pace. Choice and range are both increasing, although none have the advantage of the Super Charger network. Another concern for Tesla is the build quality has taken a noticeable downturn in 2017 coupled with both lots of software delays and glitches and increasingly demanding owners as its slowly moving away from being an early adopter, this picked up in 2018 thankfully.
If you're looking at a model S, especially the P100D, then cars like the Panamera Turbo S e-hybrid has all the performance and handling you could want and a glorious interior. With recent changes on emmissions, hybrid cars are coming out with more useable battery range too.
The battery choice is now largely a question of range. The 75 is, as the name suggests, approx 3/4 of the capacity of the 100. Recent updates means cars built from July 2017 with the 75 battery are noticeably quicker than before then, and now close to the performance of the 100. Buyer beware if buying used as to which version you get although most can now be uncorked, even those built before July 2017 (assuming you have a facelift car).
Buying new the choices are: the 75D is the best value, the P100D is the best car, and the 100D is the best all rounder especially for long drives.
Options on a Tesla can be expensive. Everyone has a view on their “must haves” so I'll not try to convince you otherwise, but here are the good and bad about them.
This is probably the most significant feature that most owners buy. There are two levels, Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) and Full self driving (FSD). EAP is the basic version on the later hardware cars and is said to be enhanced compared to the original Autopilot, although many feel there is little between the two versions. FSD is a further option on top of EAP but as of today, there are no capabilities and the range of accidents with the car mean it is unlikely that any significant features will be launched in 2019.
Both options can be added at a later date, although there is a price premium when doing so. Out feeling is EAP is part of what the car is about and should be considered. FSD however should be avoided as there are no meaningful time-scales and its more than possible you will have sold the car before taking advantage of the feature. The only proviso is the belief that cars with FSD will be guaranteed any hardware upgrades should they be needed.
Ordering the upgraded alloys is very expensive, £4,500 to go from 19" to 21" on a Model S! They look good and some believe the handling is better. We think it's just firmer and give the impression of better as the tyres are the same width (note, the rear tyre width varies from time to time). The downside is the bigger diameter wheels are more prone to accident damage, they wear the tyres more quickly and that firmer ride that some feel make it handle better, is also a downside as some feel the car is uncomfortable. One tip if you are happy with 20" wheels on a Model X but want the dark coloured wheels, don't order the upgrade at £3000 put take the standard alloys to a wheel refurbishment place, pick the exact colour you want and pay about £300 saving £2,700.
All the Model S cars now come with an all glass roof as standard and so optioning the sunroof boils down to two features: being able to open it, and wanting to attach roof rails. If you don't want to do either of these things then there's no benefit and the standard glass roof has a noticeably larger glass area and so makes the cabin feel more airy, it’s also one less thing to go wrong which was a common problem on the earlier cars.
All the cars now come with pretty much the same seats, you just pay for "leather" as part of an interior pack. The white seats are said to be the hardest wearing as they are some sort of synthetic leather which is better than it sounds and also appeal to vegans. You chose your interior pack now which covers the seats, trim and headlining colour.
On the MX you have a choice of 5, 6 and 7 seat configurations, just be mindful of what can be folded and what can't. On the MS there is the option of 2 rear facing seats although these are small!
This is now included as standard. It used to be a few bells and whistles on trim and accent lighting. They claim adaptive headlights but they're not swivel like you get on some premium cars, on a Tesla there are a few extra lights which come on to illuminate the corner when you turn. The premium upgrade now includes a HEPA filter for super clean air although some complain it can be noisy. From summer 2017 the pack includes the sub zero pack and the upgraded hifi, so be careful if looking at older models to see what it really has.