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Tesla Model S Plaid

Tesla Model S Plaid Tesla Model S Plaid Tesla Model S Plaid Tesla Model S Plaid Tesla Model S Plaid
Chopped-off aircraft-style steering wheel for revised Tesla Model S.

Tesla has updated it's long-running Model S luxury saloon, and this whole story is going to be about the wheel.

Styling and equipment upgrades

Actually, that's maybe not very fair. The rest of the Model S, beyond the steering wheel, has been upgraded too, with new styling - well, new bumpers and foglights, the return of the panoramic glass roof option, new wheels and some other small, subtle tweaks. Essentially, though, visually, and from the outside it's the Model S we've known and mostly loved for some time. Tesla is clearly taking a Porsche-Mazda-esque approach of if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Inside, though? Boy, howdy. There's a new central touchscreen, which Tesla is calling a 'Gaming Computer' and which is said to have the same performance as a Sony PlayStation 5. It's 17 inches across, and switches from the old, upright, 'portrait' layout to a more Model-3-like landscape.

There's also a second display in the back for your rear seat passengers, and Tesla is bigging up the screens' ability to stream movies, games, and other entertainment. That may have something to do with Elon Musk's promise, at the reveal of the updated S, to have full 'Level 5' autonomous driving by the end of this year. To which we'll simply say; we'll see.

That steering wheel...

The wheel, though? The wheel is now no longer a wheel, but a chopped-off control yoke that looks like a cross between what you'd find in a 747 and a Formula One car's steering wheel. It's a little hard to say, as yet, quite how this will change the Model S' driving experience - either Tesla has wound up the steering lock and response to a point where it's going to be super-twitchy, or it's using something similar to BMW's old variable-ratio steering system first seen on the 2002 E60 5 Series. We shall have to wait and see.

On the mechanical front, the previous top-spec Model S has been replaced by an all-new, very high-performance 'Plaid' model (if you're wondering why it's called Plaid +, you need to go back and watch Mel Brooks' 1987 sci-fi spoof Spaceballs. We won't spoil it here - it's worth the re-watch) with three electric motors (one front, two rear) and a colossal 1,100hp.

Plaid + performance model with 1,100hp

Tesla claims that the Model S Plaid + can accelerate from 0-100km/h in "less than 2.1 seconds" but still has a WLTP range of more than 840km on a full charge. There's also a claimed 320km/h top speed, but Musk does admit that one needs 'the right tyres' to manage that. There's a slightly lesser 1,020hp Plaid model with a 628km range and a 2.1-on-the-nose second 0-100km/h run. The standard two-motor Long Range model gets a one-charge range of 663km and a 3.2 second 0-100km/h run.

Irish prices start from €90,990 for the two-motor Long Range, rising to €119,990 for a Plaid, and €140,990 for a Plaid +. February delivery is being quoted in most markets, but Tesla does warn that "delivery timing depends on configuration options and delivery location."

Oh, and the big Model X SUV is getting all of the same upgrades (well, they do share a platform). You can get a Long Range Model X for €99,990 and a 1,020hp Plaid (but not a Plaid +) for €119,990. The Long Range sees one-charge range claim to 580km, while a Plaid Model X will go for 547km and accelerate from 0-100km/h in 2.6 seconds.

Published on January 28, 2021
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