Currently reading: Tesla Model S and Model X gain new interior, hot Plaid variants
Saloon and SUV heavily updated with radical new-look cabin; Model S gets 520-mile range-topper
Felix Page Autocar writer
3 mins read
28 January 2021

The Tesla Model S and Model X have received their most substantial updates since going on sale, ushering in a radical new-look interior and the long-awaited Plaid performance powertrain.

The updates were previewed in Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings report, in which it also revealed that it had delivered 180,750 cars in the last three months of 2020 - a production record for the company. 

Headed for production in February ahead of an imminent US sales launch, the Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid take 1006bhp from a tri-motor electric powertrain, which in the Model S is good for a claimed 0-60mph time of 1.99sec, making it the first production car to complete the sprint in less than 2.0sec, according to Tesla boss Elon Musk. 

The Model S Plaid will also get from 0-155mph in a quarter of a mile and top out at 200mph "with the right tyres," Musk added. 

The Model S also receives an 1100bhp Plaid+ flagship, which bumps range up from an estimated 390 miles to more than 520 miles (on the US EPA test) - more than any EV currently in production - as well as cutting the 0-60mph time yet further. 

The larger Model X Plaid needs 2.5sec to complete the 0-60mph sprint, but that still gives it the "quickest acceleration of any SUV".

The Plaid powertrain is described by Tesla as "beyond ludicrous," in reference to the Ludicrous Mode function that gives its cars stand-out acceleration capabilities. 

The update also brings new battery technology for improved range and efficiency. Precise technical details are yet to be confirmed, but new thermal architecture gives faster charging and gives "more power and endurance in all conditions".

Inside, the two cars have been completely overhauled, with the old vertically oriented touchscreen making way for a new 17in widescreen unit that offers "exceptional responsiveness" and can be tilted from left to right to give easier access for passengers or drivers as needed.

There's also a new, separate 8.0in infotainment touchscreen mounted at the rear of the centre console, giving back-seat passengers access to various entertainment and comfort functions.

Perhaps most notable is the introduction of a new steering wheel design that's seemingly modelled on those used to steer aircraft. Tesla calls it a "stalkless steering yoke," having done away with the conventional drive mode and indicator stalks, relocating these controls to the large new central touchscreen. The car "guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context and nav map", according to Musk, but this can be manually overrided. 

This device has been deemed legal for use in the UK and Europe, but a conventional round steering wheel will also be available. 


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Software updates include the infotainment system being upgraded with a processing power of 10 teraflops, which means the Tesla Arcade gaming function is now comparable in terms of functionality with modern gaming consoles.

A 22-speaker, 960-watt audio system is equipped as standard and new microphones have been fitted to offer active noise-cancelling. 

Deliveries of the new cars will get under way in the UK in 2022, with prices starting at £83,980 and £90,980 respectively for the entry-level Long Range versions of the Model S and Model X.

Prices climb to £110,980 for the Plaid versions of each, while the Model S Plaid+ tops the line-up at £130,980. 


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Bobsmith22 29 January 2021

“but this can be manually overrided.”The half-wit ‘journalist’ who wrote this needs to go back to primary school to learn some English.

Peter Cavellini 28 January 2021

 Isn't range more important?, Tesla and others have taken the jaw drop out of fast cars, sub two second to sixty etc, I'd love to believe that a 500mile range is possible , but how do you achieve this in a Car with 1006hp?, this surely can't be achieved in normal day to day driving?

lambo58 28 January 2021

Because the Tesla battery is so enormous: make it large enough then range and performance are not mutually exclusive. Also explains the huge cost.

xxxx 29 January 2021

Just how often do you need to go 8 to 9 hours without stopping. Charge rate is more important once you go past 300 miles.

Tim Oldland 28 January 2021

Firstly, the 'steering yoke' isn't going to be standard in the UK, the normal round wheel will.

And when you look at the high res image of the steering wheel you can see there are capacative buttons for the indicators, flashing lights etc on the wheel itself to the side of the little dials.

Yes the drive selector will now be on the screen, but PNDR is a set of buttons on the dash in a lot of cars now. There's a lot to be annoyed about with Tesla, but the above points aren't.

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