Updated Tesla Model S and X
with futuristic steering and unprecedented acceleration
While BMW and Mercedes rarely manage to keep to their planned release dates when it comes to innovations, Tesla surprised everyone this morning with an update for the two oldest models in the range: the Model S and Model X. They've been given a new look, but mainly stand out due to a futuristic interior with a unique steering wheel and the arrival of unprecedented, powerful Plaid platforms...
Except for a few years ago, the Model S – which is now almost 10 years old – hasn't really had any external updates, while the interior also remained unchanged until now (except for seats with better support during a previous upgrade). For the Model X, however, the current update is its first major upgrade (other than software updates), with the model receiving a new look.
A new steering wheel
The update to the exteriors of both models remains modest, with less chrome and different rims, making the already attractive Model S look even sleeker and the Model X a little less bulky and appear lower.
However, the real revolution has taken place inside, where the interior of both models is more similar to that of the new Model 3. The most striking thing, however, is the state-of-the-art half steering wheel that instantly makes you think of concept cars at car shows that are never seen again.
Tesla, however, is taking the next step. After first removing the traditional buttons by centralising almost all functions on a large, central touchscreen – something that others are increasingly following suit with, although Americans are now doing something more expensive – the traditional, round steering wheel has gone and been replaced by a yoke-like, half steering wheel.
Strangely enough, Tesla itself doesn't mention it at all in the brief press release that accompanies the facelift, but that, too, is typical of the brand's different way of communicating and which, under the leadership of the flamboyant Elon Musk, has become the most valuable car manufacturer in the world if we look at the stock market value.
Full of innovations
The innovations in the passenger compartments of both vehicles are not limited to the new steering wheel – there are now also three screens. The 17-inch central display has a 2200x1300 resolution and can be tilted from left to right. It's now horizontal instead of vertical and – unlike the Model 3 – is still supplemented by a second display for the driver showing crucial driving information.
The third display, housed in the rear section between the front seats and which provides entertainment and controls for the rear passengers, is also new, allowing passengers to play games using the screen via Tesla Arcade. The manufacturer has said that the system has up to 10 teraflops of processing power and is comparable to the latest consoles on the market. We want to believe them, but as we don't know enough about it, we'll leave that one to the experts. And as the system is compatible with a wireless controller, all rear passengers can join in the games.
In addition to a new climate control system with three zones without physical vents, there's a 960-watt, 22-speaker audio system offering a remarkable stereo experience. New microphones also enable active noise reduction together with the audio system.
Model S Long Range, Plaid and Plaid+: for unprecedented electrical performance
True to its reputation, Tesla is introducing ever-faster and more powerful versions of the Model S. The latest top-of-the-range model is the Plaid and has, by the way, already been surpassed by the Plaid+.
The basic Model S is the Long Range, which is powered by two motors with all-wheel drive and starts from €89,990. It has a top speed of 250 km/h and reaches 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds, while Tesla estimates its range to be 663 kilometres. No information about its power has been provided.
The even faster Model S Plaid uses three electric motors, is also all-wheel drive and is streets ahead of the competition as it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.1 seconds. Impressive. And with 1,020 horsepower (US spec; the unreported European value differs slightly), it breaks through the magical barrier. Tesla has announced a top speed of 320 km/h and a maximum range of 628 kilometres for this model, which will set you back €119,990.
However, it could be even more impressive, because with the Model S Plaid+ offering "more than 1,100 hp", Tesla claims to have achieved the fastest 0 to 100 km/h acceleration and the fastest car over a quarter of a mile ever to be launched on the market. The Plaid+ reaches 100 km/h in less than 2.1 seconds, has a top speed of 320 km/h, and does a quarter of a mile in under 9 seconds. Tesla also says that the range is "over 840 kilometres". These are staggering figures that need to be verified, but they're likely to leave the competition feeling uneasy.
Model X Long Range or Plaid
The upgraded Model X comes in the all-wheel drive Long Range version with two electric motors and, priced at €99,990, has a range of 580 kilometres, a top speed of 250 km/h and takes just 3.9 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h. It also comes in a Plaid version with three motors and all-wheel drive that, priced at €119,990, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.6 seconds, has 1,020 horsepower, a top speed of 262 km/h and a range of 547 kilometres.
The first new Long Range and Plaid models of both the Model S and the Model X are expected in September. The Model S Plaid+ is expected at the end of the year.