Tesla has unveiled the mildly facelifted 2021 Model S, bringing in a powerful new Plaid+ option, more screens inside, and an unusual chopped steering wheel, among other things.
Let’s start with the all-important performance stuff. For the 2021 Model S, buyers will be able to option for a new Plaid and Plaid+ battery pack. This essentially replaces the Performance variant, and includes three electric motors that combine to unleash a whopping 1100hp-plus (about 820kW) for the Plaid+, and 1020hp (761kW) for the regular Plaid.
With all-wheel drive you can probably imagine the epic acceleration. Well, Tesla claims the Plaid+ does 0-100km/h in less than 2.1 seconds, with the quarter mile crossed in under 9.0 seconds. That means Tesla is claiming it is an 8-second car, which is simply unbelievable, especially for a regular, road-going four-door sedan.
In its maximum specification the new model also boasts a range of over 840km. That’s also incredible. In fact, we can’t think of any production electric vehicle that offers a higher range. Even in the regular Plaid setup the car has an estimated range of 628km, while the new Long Range variant is estimated at 663km.
While those figures sink in, we’ll move to the exterior design. Tesla hasn’t really made much of an effort with the exterior for the facelift. The front bumper bar extends a bit further down and the rear receives mild changes. Aside from some new-look wheels, that’s about it.
The interior has been given some big updates, though. On the dash it’s impossible not to notice the new 17-inch horizontal touch-screen. This sticks out like a giant tablet, replacing the old vertical embedded screen from before. There’s also a new 22-speaker sound system with active noise cancelling technology, as well as a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch rear seat display.
Yes, that steering wheel. We’re not sure if that will make it to production, particularly in Australia. It definitely grabs your attention though and seems quite typical of Tesla to do something out of the ordinary. The dash and materials also seem a bit cosier and more refined, arguably an area where Tesla has fallen behind against the established luxury brands.
Other updates include USB-C and wireless charging for all passengers, triple-zone Airwave cabin conditioning with HEPA filtration, new brakes with carbon-sleeved rotors, a tinted glass roof, and a tidied up centre console with cup holders and a sliding storage tray. There’s also a flip-down arm rest in the back with cup holders.
Similar updates have also been applied for the 2021 Model X SUV, including the introduction of the Plaid powertrain. According to the official Tesla website, Australian deliveries for the Model S Plaid are estimated to begin in 2022. Prices start from around $174,990 for the Plaid and $189,990 for the Plaid+.