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1 October 2020

Should I buy a Tesla?

Tesla is America’s well-known electric-only car brand -but does the hype match the reality? Find out if Tesla cars are worth your money
Tesla main
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Oliver Trebilcock

Tesla says its aim is a clean transport revolution away from combustion engine cars. The brand is named after Nikola Tesla, inventor of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity system.

Tesla is spearheading the charge to bring electric cars into the mainstream, most recently with its cheapest car, the Model 3 (pictured above). It also offers the premium Model S and Model X cars for affluent buyers. 

It aims to counter traditional electric car concerns by offering long driving ranges and fast, widely available roadside charging via its exclusive Supercharger network.

Tesla also channels its Silicon Valley roots with cutting-edge technology, including its driver-assist system, controversially dubbed Autopilot. Despite its patchy record for profitability, Tesla’s seemingly promising future saw its market value surpass Toyota in 2020 to become the most valuable carmaker in the world.

Since its cars are all purely electric, they have zero tailpipe emissions, and Tesla also makes battery storage technology and solar panels. Its maverick CEO Elon Musk has a reputation as a disruptor and has courted controversy, but also has plenty of fans. 

Tempted by a Tesla? Our independent lab and road tests rigorously put Tesla’s claims under the spotlight – find out if they live up to the hype in our Tesla car reviews.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model X

How reliable are Tesla cars?

We run an annual car survey where tens of thousands of people tell us about their current car and how reliable it is. Based on feedback from current Tesla owners, we have reliability data for cars aged up to three years old, and cars aged between three and eight years old.

Which? members can login and to view the table below and find out just how reliable Tesla cars really are. Not yet a Which? member? Join Which? to unlock all of our reliability ratings and our independent online car reviews.

 

Tesla car reliability
  Ratings and review
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3-8-year

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Table notes

We surveyed online 47,013 members of the general public covering 55,833 cars. Survey in field December 2019 to February 2020.

Want to see how Tesla’s reliability compares with competitor brands? Head over to our reliable car brand tool.

How much do Tesla cars cost?

While Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says he ultimately wants the brand to produce affordable mass-market electric vehicles, Tesla’s current electric cars come at a premium. Even the cheapest model, the Tesla Model 3 large saloon, starts from more than £40,000.

Its luxury seven-seat saloon, the Model S, costs from a steep £77,980. The high-end Tesla Model X, a seven-seat large luxury SUV with the infamous 'falcon-wing' rear doors, starts from an eye-watering £82,980.

Choosing the best Tesla car

Tesla currently offers three models in the UK, with a fourth, the Tesla Model Y, expected in 2021 or 2022. Find out more about each of Tesla’s cars below.

Tesla Model 3, £40,490

The Tesla Model 3 saloon is Tesla’s big push towards mass-market appeal, aiming to bring the price of the brand's cars within reach of mainstream buyers. It’s far cheaper than Tesla’s other models, though still pricey - at more than £40,000. It's slightly smaller too, although still quite a big car by UK standards - at 4.7 metres long and well over two metres wide. 

It has a striking design - inside, as well as out. The dashboard is strikingly simple, with a large touchscreen housing almost every control.

There are three versions offered in the UK. The entry-level Standard Plus has a single electric motor driving the rear wheels, while the Long Range and Performance models get a larger battery and all-wheel drive. All come with single-speed automatic transmission only. Even the Standard Plus claims a long 254-mile range before you need to recharge.

Sound like the ideal Tesla for you? Find out how it performed at our expert tests in our Tesla Model 3 review.

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S is the oldest of Tesla’s current models. It’s a luxury saloon offering plenty of passenger space without sacrificing high-end sports car-like performance. It has an exceptionally generous claimed driving range of 424 miles, which should calm even the most worry-prone battery watchers.

As with all Tesla cars, it features Tesla’s Autopilot mode which brings high-level driver assistance (it’s NOT full self-driving). Tesla also offers an add-on confusingly called 'Full Self-Driving Capability', which adds extra driver-assistance features. But is still NOT full self-driving. For example, it allows the car to change lane at the flick of the indicator, although the driver still needs to pay attention at all times.

Looking for a luxury-build Tesla? See if it’s worth the price premium in our Tesla Model S review.

Tesla Model X, £82,980

The Tesla Model X is an unusual crossbreed - it appeals both to fans of SUVs, while also having features that will appeal to MPV buyers. Whichever buyer you are, you’ll certainly need deep pockets as it's pricey. 

It has unique 'falcon wing' rear doors and can be bought with supercar-like performance in high specs. It aims to be practical, too, with seven seats and lots of luggage space. All-wheel drive is standard.

Even with the smallest of its choice of three battery outputs, Tesla claims a 259 mile range. This compares reasonably with a petrol car, considering the performance on offer.

So is it worth installing a dedicated high-capacity charging socket in your home to make the switch to an electric car? Find out in our Tesla Model X review.

Tesla Model Y coming soon…

With the continued booming popularity of compact crossover SUVs, Tesla is currently missing an offering - and the Tesla Model Y Tesla aims to plug that gap. The Model Y will be a more affordable option than the X, and will be slightly larger and more expensive than the Model 3.

That extra size means it offers the option of an extra third row of seats to fit seven people. It will be the first Tesla car to have a heat pump to heat the interior cabin, which should improve the car’s electric range in colder weather.

Orders have already started for the Tesla Model Y, but right-hand drive models for the UK market aren’t expected to arrive before 2021.

Compare all of Tesla’s cars by heading over to our expert Tesla car reviews.

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