2021 has barely started and Tesla is at it again, recently releasing a new version of their flagship sedan the Model S.
The exterior looks cleaned up, the interior saw a major overhaul, and performance was upgraded from mighty to mind-boggling.
From the outside, the new Model S doesn’t look too different from its predecessor and is still fully recognisable as a Tesla car.
The front bumper has been slightly redesigned to give it a cleaner look, a new rim design has been fitted, and the rear receives a few more pronounced lines.
It still remains up to date compared to its segment rivals, and is still a 5-seater family sedan in essence.
The interior, however, is where enough updates happened in order to call this a new generation and not just a facelift.
Tesla has voted to continue with the sterile look by sticking to flat surfaces, right angles, and earth tones throughout the vehicle.
Personally, I think it looks amazing and that many more manufacturers can benefit from this approach.
However, looks remain subjective and not everyone will be so fond of the inside of the Model S.
The biggest change then comes in the form of the centre screen, as in previous generations this colossal display was positioned vertically – like a phone display.
The new generation forgoes the vertical orientation and sees the addition of a new 17-inch cinematic display mounted horizontally.
It works with popular streaming apps and games, it’s used to change air-conditioning settings, and it’s the infotainment hub.
The steering “wheel” is unorthodox as well, and takes on a fighter-jet inspired design with seemingly no stalks and no gear selectors.
How do you control these settings then?
Well, Tesla has placed buttons which activate the indicators – and other similar functions – while removing “old fashioned” control mechanisms.
The drive selector, though, is a completely different story, and as Elon put it so eloquently on his Twitter page: “No more stalks. Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context and nav map. You can override on touchscreen.”
Additionally, a digital instrument cluster can be found behind this new steering wheel which shows your speeds and what your car “sees” through its radar eyes.
Two wireless charging pads are installed below the infotainment screen as standard, too.
Practical matters and power
The rear seats have also received an update and can still fit three adults comfortably.
A built-in armrest with two more wireless charging pads, and a display mounted at the rear of the centre console where more streaming and gaming can take place for backseat passengers, were throw in for good measure.
Audio is provided by a 22-speaker sound system, 793-litres of cargo space is available for all your luggage, and aircon vents are hidden throughout the cockpit without hindering their effectiveness.
The best part of the new Tesla, though, is “under the hood” – the batteries and electric motors.
As this is an electric car, the bonnet and trunk serve as open spaces for extra cargo – and the actual powertrain lies below the passenger compartment to maximise space and a low centre of gravity.
An option for a long-range dual-motor, or performance focussed tri-motor all-wheel drive systems, are available – and this will mainly affect the acceleration of the car.
With the former, a 0-100km/h acceleration takes roughly 3.1 seconds, with power peaking at 500kW and a maximum range of 663 kilometres available.
The tri-motor system is then fitted to models wearing the Plaid name.
It has a maximum range of 628km, a peak power output of 761kW, and will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 1.99 seconds.
And, if you’d like to take your Tesla drag racing, you would appreciate the sub 10 second quarter mile time – 9.23 seconds – which few manufacturers can boast.
A plethora of assist systems – consisting of a 360-degree, 160m viewing radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors – keep you safe while you’re driving, and allow innovative features such as autopilot navigation, auto lane changing, auto parking, and a summon function – the latter of which brings your Tesla towards your location in a parking lot, with no one having to be inside.
On top of this, the Tesla Model S has one of the highest safety ratings in the NCAP database.
Deliveries for the new car are set for March onwards.
Prices for the new Model S, converted from US dollars to rand, are listed below:
- Long Range model – R1,200,000
- Plaid model – R1,800,000
- Plaid+ model – R2,100,000