News: Tesla introduces dual-motor Model S 70D electric sports saloon

Four-wheel drive, 275-mile range

Tesla Model S 70D

IT IS unquestionably the best electric car money can buy, and now drivers who want to plug into the Tesla Model S won’t have to spend so much.

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The Californian car company has launched a cheaper Model S, the 70D, priced from £54,500 – a saving of £3,900 over the Model S 85, the next least expensive version of the luxury saloon after Tesla quietly dropped the unpopular Model S 60. The price is £5,000 lower than it might be, thanks to the government grant for plug-in electric cars.

What does that get buyers? Unlike the standard S 85, the 70D version is all-wheel drive, with an electric motor on both axles, and is powered by a 70kWh battery that is said to offer a cruising range of 275 miles – 35 miles less than the S 85 version.

Tesla says the 70D can accelerate from standstill to 60mph in 5.2 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. But those putting either of those figures to the test can expect to stop to recharge the battery in much less than 275 miles.

As standard, it has features such as an intelligent satellite navigation system that can sync with the driver’s smartphone calendar and determine how much time will be needed to reach the office, make a meeting or get to that Michelin-starred restaurant in time for a reservation.

Additionally, Autopilot Parking – a £2,100 option – can switch on the car, set the climate control to the driver’s preference, open the electric garage door and even drive the car to the front door of the owner’s home, says Tesla – but only on private property, of course.

Equally, when you get to where you’re going, the so-called Autopilot function is said to be able to detect an empty parking space and park the car for the driver.

As a comparison, a BMW ActiveHybrid 5 M Sport costs £50,625, which may sound competitive, but bear in mind that business owners would have to pay a 27% benefit in kind tax, rather than 5% for the Tesla – a virtue of its low emissions.