Automotive

Tesla drops bombshell Model S upgrades, including the wild Plaid+

Tesla drops bombshell Model S ...
Such an innocent looking car; who'd guess it's the fastest-accelerating production car in history?
Such an innocent looking car; who'd guess it's the fastest-accelerating production car in history?
View 9 Images
Such an innocent looking car; who'd guess it's the fastest-accelerating production car in history?
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Such an innocent looking car; who'd guess it's the fastest-accelerating production car in history?
Minor exterior updates for the 2021 Tesla Model S – but things get a complete and rather controversial overhaul on the inside
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Minor exterior updates for the 2021 Tesla Model S – but things get a complete and rather controversial overhaul on the inside
A built-in gaming computer compatible with wireless controllers runs the front and rear touch screens
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A built-in gaming computer compatible with wireless controllers runs the front and rear touch screens
A very clean refresh of the cabin brings the design into line with what the Model 3 established
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A very clean refresh of the cabin brings the design into line with what the Model 3 established
The 17-inch front infotainment touchscreen goes horizontal, and the steering wheel is half gone
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The 17-inch front infotainment touchscreen goes horizontal, and the steering wheel is half gone
Minor exterior updates include some black trims here and there
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Minor exterior updates include some black trims here and there
The Model S Plaid+ offers more than 1,100 horsepower, 520 miles of range, sub-2 second 0-60 acceleration, sub-9 second quarter miles and 200 mph top speeds
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The Model S Plaid+ offers more than 1,100 horsepower, 520 miles of range, sub-2 second 0-60 acceleration, sub-9 second quarter miles and 200 mph top speeds
An updated chassis with dual or tri-motor setups, and a flat underfloor battery pack
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An updated chassis with dual or tri-motor setups, and a flat underfloor battery pack
The new steering yoke switches stalks for scrolly thumb balls
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The new steering yoke switches stalks for scrolly thumb balls
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Tesla has weirdly used a quarterly earnings call to drop blockbuster announcements about its extraordinary Model S, including some bizarre interior upgrades and a monster Plaid+ version that's the fastest accelerating production car ever.

The three new models are already on sale; at the bottom end there's a long-range dual motor starting at US$79,990, and in the middle there's a 1,020 horsepower Plaid tri-motor at US$119,990. But the one that's really got jaws on the floor is the new Plaid+.

Check out the raw specs on this thing. For US$139,990, you get yourself a conservative-looking 4-door family hyper-sedan with more than 1,100 horsepower. That accelerates from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in less than 1.99 seconds. That rips out sub-9 second quarter miles in smirking silence, leaving Koenigseggs, Bugattis, LaFerraris and Dodge Demons fighting over your scraps. That tops out at a supercar-level 200 mph (322 km/h). And that delivers these unbelievable performance figures while carrying enough battery for a massive range over 520 miles (837 km).

The Model S Plaid+ offers more than 1,100 horsepower, 520 miles of range, sub-2 second 0-60 acceleration, sub-9 second quarter miles and 200 mph top speeds
The Model S Plaid+ offers more than 1,100 horsepower, 520 miles of range, sub-2 second 0-60 acceleration, sub-9 second quarter miles and 200 mph top speeds

You can bet that range figure is no accident; the Lucid Air one-upped the Tesla last year by promising 517 miles (832 km) of range with a 2.5-second 0-60. Elon Musk loves these kinds of challenges – especially, one imagines, from competitors who are yet to deliver a car.

As well as this shot of steroids for the powertrain, there are some minor exterior updates, and a complete interior overhaul for both the Model S and Model X, which cleans things up considerably to match the sparse design language of the Model 3.

Thus, there's now a massive 17-inch horizontal infotainment touchscreen to go with the 12-inch dash display and an 8-inch display in the back of the center console for the kids to enjoy. The front and rear infotainment screens are now driven by a built-in gaming computer with enough processing power, Tesla says, to rival a latest-gen console like the Playstation 5.

A very clean refresh of the cabin brings the design into line with what the Model 3 established
A very clean refresh of the cabin brings the design into line with what the Model 3 established

And that's not an empty comparison; you can literally connect wireless controllers and play high-end games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from any seat, with 960 watts of stereo completing the experience through a new 22-speaker sound system with active noise cancelling. Hell, if you don't mind the risk of your car blue-screening and crashing in more ways than one, you can even boot up Cyberpunk 2077.

And then there's the steering ... thing. Despite the monster performance these cars offer, the act of driving is becoming less and less important to many Tesla owners as Autopilot continues to evolve and more and more miles are driven autonomously. Perhaps as a reflection of this, Tesla is starting to let the steering wheel melt away. With the latest cars, it's half gone, and there's even a little pillow on it so you can catch some Zs on the highway. I jest, and yet I do not jest.

What remains of the wheel is a squared-off yoke of a thing with no stalks sticking out the back for indicators or wipers. Heck, there's not even a physical gear selector any more. The wipers are automatic, or can be triggered through the touchscreen. Other functions are relegated to a pair of scrolly digital thumb-balls, and the gearshift, says Elon Musk, will ... make up its own mind about whether you want to go forwards or backwards? No, really ...

Is that even allowed? It'll certainly cause a commotion in some markets, but this now becomes far and away the most futuristic production car cabin we've seen, with a center strip solely dedicated to holding beverages and buckets of chicken.

There's more: your phone is now a car key, for example, linking to your own custom driver profile. The front seats are ventilated, and the brakes get carbon-sleeved rotors. Everyone in the car gets both a wireless phone charger and a USB-C charge point.

It's fair to say there's never been a car company in history that pushed limits the way Tesla does; you have to be careful you don't raise your eyebrows too high at the start of a Tesla announcement, because they'll have nowhere to go by the end. This new Model S continues that proud tradition. It still looks buttoned-down and conservative on the outside, but the performance is more outrageous than ever, and things inside are pretty much as wacky and sci-fi as they get in 2021. What fun!

Source: Tesla

View gallery - 9 images
24 comments
24 comments
aki009
So that must be the powertrain and frame for the new Roadster. But before that is done, they are dropping it into a Model S to have some beta testers make sure it kind of works.

Most folks don't realize that the tire requirements for hitting those incredible performance numbers aren't exactly cheap and don't go very far. I'm happy to get 800 miles out of the tires I use on a "high performance" street legal car.
CAVUMark
Just what the world needs.
MarkGovers
Holy cow Batman, this is so nice, great design!
kvncloete
Toyota must be worried. Imagine a range of Teslas that take on the worlds bread and butter models combined with motor plans and warranties we are used to, This may become the new car for the people that Henry Ford created so long ago. Tesla shares going up.
SteveMc
Nooooooooooooo! I was very happy with my 5 year old Model S P85D, right up until 30 seconds ago :(
yawood
That range is starting to get useful. On a trip home in Australia recently in my BMW 520d we filled up in Coonabarabran NSW, drove home to Melbourne Vic (1000km) and the computer showed we still had 250km to empty. When an electric car can do that, and then refuel in a few minutes, they'll be worth buying.
WONKY KLERKY
1: In echo of others - Public roads are NOT public racetracks.
+
2: With that amount of electronics* The Law of Sod will always kick-in at 03.00 hrs on a Sunday morning in mid January<->March when you're in the middle of The Snake Pass (UK / US - take yer pick).

* All said above to 2, as long as they're not Land-Rover bits in there,
you might just be in with a chance on 'limp-home' mode
(That is, if you haven't pranged the thing - See 1 above).
buzzclick
All that power and speed plus a touch screen infotainment system at the hands of an average driver may be a dicey combination until the autonomous drive capability kicks in, but the auto drive won't let you near those speeds.
gybognarjr
Congratulation!!! Elon Musk, his engineers, his people at Tesla and SpaceX are the best!!
Warky1
These types of vehicles will no doubt appeal to many people however, they will not be 'car people'. I have nothing against these people but, they are not 'car people'. As indicated in this article the art of driving is becoming less and less important to some people, it will never become so with 'car people' who will forever cherish the sound of a internal combustion V-8 engine for as long as they're still around or the engines are still around. Sad story indeed!
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