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When Tesla's Model S debuted in 2012, it was what every electric car strives to be: performance-oriented, stylish and with a massive range that allowed customers to use it as a daily driver.
Coming into 2013, Tesla had some bad news: a $5,000 price hike. Fortunately, though, the Model S still seems like a relative bargain when compared to a variety of competitors.
The top Base configuration uses a 85 kWh system with up to 300 miles of range—or an EPA-certified 265 miles—while producing 362 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of twist. This enables the Model S to reach 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, and to go on to a 125 mph top speed.
When you jump up to the Performance trim, you get an 85 kWh system with a 300-mile maximum range, 416 horsepower, 443 pound-feet of torque and a 4.4-second dash to 60 mph. Top speed rises to 130 mph.
Sexy and efficient, the Tesla Model S has a price that puts it out of reach for many middle class buyers, even with tax credits. There have also been mixed reviews regarding the claimed range of each model, but Tesla has steadily argued that these claims are untrue.
The Base Tesla Model S not only offers up performance and economy, but also tosses in a fair amount of high-end features, including: a 40 kWh battery system with 160 miles of range; an 8-year, 100,000-mile battery warranty; a black or body-colored roof; 19-inch five-twin-spoke wheels; a cloth and synthetic leather upholstery; 12-way power, heated seats; a 17-inch touchscreen infotainment system; a 200-watt, seven-speaker audio system with a pair of USB ports and storage for up to 500 songs; 110-volt and 240-volt mobile connectors; and a 10 kW on-board charger that charges at a rate of 31 miles of range per hour.
The Tesla Model S Performance takes the Base model and adds a lot of performance and luxury items. The Performance model includes: an 85 kWh battery system with up to 300 miles of range; an 8-year unlimited-mileage battery warranty; a black or body-colored roof; 19-inch twin-five-spoke wheels; Nappa leather seating with contrast piping and Alcantara bolsters; 12-way power, heated front seats; a 17-inch touchscreen infotainment system; a 200-watt, seven-speaker audio system with storage space for 500 songs; an active air suspension; and unlimited access to Tesla’s Supercharging network.
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402-horsepower drivetrain, gasoline backup and super-luxurious, but only 52 MPGe and a huge price tag
Quick to 60 mph, no need to charge it and luxurious, but lacks mpg and a little pricey
Peppy base drivetrain and no charging, but lower mpg and still relies on gasoline
Powerful base setup, hybrid doesn't require charging and low price, but lower mpg and gasoline-reliant