Tesla Model S

Have you ever tried driving on the motorway without touching the steering wheel or pedals? It’s brilliant but a bit freaky.

I did actually give it a go in Tesla’s Model S.

Obviously, the controls need to be set - and it’s not something to do on ordinary roads - but when on the motorway you can use the autopilot function and cruise control to let the car do the hard work.

It has so many censors, cameras and a GPS tracker, that it knows exactly where you are in relation to other vehicles and the lane markings. If you set the maximum speed and desired number of lengths between you and the car in front, it will keep you on course and at a set distance behind.

If the vehicle ahead slows down, or another pulls in, in front of you, the Model S will slow down accordingly.

In reality, you shouldn’t of course take your eye off the road and have a nap or whatever, but it does mean you can just lightly rest your hands on the steering wheel and feel quite relaxed.

Even more impressively, the Model S can change lanes if you indicate and then cancel the signal when in the new lane. And there is also a parallel autopark function.

The P90D is all-wheel drive and is the fastest and most efficient car in the range; the entry level 70D is rear-wheel drive.

Taking to the roads of Greater Manchester and along the motorway, I was struck by how smooth and powerful it is. In truth, I was expecting an electric car to be a little sluggish, but this accelerates very quickly - 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds - and also glides to a stop gently. It’s a lot quieter than petrol/diesel cars, so the whole effect is one of tranquility.

The Model S is like a technology hub with a car built around it.

Inside, the 17-inch touchscreen panel is much larger than other cars. From it, you can operate: satnav via Google Maps; entertainment media; climate control; phone and internet; camera and driving data/controls; and the sunroof (to a percentage amount of aperture).

There is no central console for handbrake and gears so there’s extra storage between the front two seats; and as it lacks a parcel shelf, extra seats can be fitted in the boot space for small children, effectively making it a 7-seater saloon. Furthermore, as the battery lies across the chassis under the cabin, there is yet more storage space under the bonnet.

Tesla Motors says the P90D will run to up to 330 miles in optimum conditions; and there is ‘configurator’ on the website to show how each model fares under differing conditions.

There are Tesla supercharger points around the UK (the nearest ones being in Warrington or Leeds; with more planned), which charge up the battery in under 30 minutes. You also use other on-street chargers (which are slower) or have a charging pack installed at home so you can re-charge the car overnight.

In terms of fuel pricing, using the supercharger points is free, while using your own electricity at home costs a fraction of what you’d spend on petrol or diesel. And as the car doesn’t produce any emissions, there is no road tax to pay.

It’s a stylish car and technological updates are automatically delivered online to its operating system. There is also an app so you can access it remotely, for example, to check how much charge is in the battery.

This car is so intelligent, it should be in Mensa.

Entry level 70D starts at £56,200 and the P90D starts at £79,500 (including a £5,000 government incentive discount).