Tesla Model S Plaid Hands-On Review


Back in January of this year, Tesla announced the Model S refresh. However, from the outside, not much has changed to the untrained eye. It looks pretty much the same as a normal Model S has for the past couple of years, but the interior is entirely new and most of the internals of this car.

Elon originally said in January that it was coming next month. Still, after many delays, it is finally here, and Tesla launched the first 25 Model S Plaids at their delivery event on June 10th.

As usual, they are launching first with their most expensive Model, the Plaid Model. It gets a wild zero to 60 in under two seconds. A quarter-mile of 9.23 seconds, a top speed of 200 miles per hour, costs around $130,000.

It’s pricey but far cheaper than any other vehicle that can go nearly that fast. And it’s the fastest production car ever. Today, we’re reviewing the new Plaid Model, and overall this car is nearly identical to the cheaper Long Range Model at $80,000.

The only differences come in performance, which is beyond ludicrous, and a couple of small performance upgrades. So while I am reviewing the Plaid Model S, we’ll, of course, do an insane two-second launch.

This applies to the Long Range Model, which should be delivered to customers in the coming weeks. I’m excited to show you this car. So let’s get into it.

From the outside, as I mentioned, the Plaid Model S looks largely the same. It has the same eight cameras covering the autopilot system, and it still includes a radar sensor, so it’s the same autopilot suite that we’ve seen for years on the Model S.

It has a beautiful panoramic glass roof, very similar to what the Model Y has. It has the same door handles that retract and present themselves to you when you walk up to the car, but this time they are black.

Instead of being matte black, like they are on the Model 3 and the Model Y, they are satin black on the Model S and the upcoming Model X. There are two different types of wheels for the Model S.

There are these standard 19-inch wheels that come with hubcaps called the Tempest Wheels. And then there are these beautiful 21-inch wheels for an extra $4,500.

Similar to before, there is a large front trunk for extra storage since there is not a traditional engine in this car.

There’s a lot of space in the back, thanks to the large hatchback. And there’s the under-storage compartment as well. I often compare this car to the Model Y and storage space because it has all the same storage locations, but the Model Y is just taller.

If you need additional storage, the rear seats fold down at a touch of a button to open up this massive space in the back. Reportedly, Tesla will be making a seven-seater version of this Model S,
but for now, they’re only selling it five-seaters.

So there are two seats up front and three seats in the back. As I discussed earlier, the biggest improvements to this car are the interior, and it feels entirely new with three screens.

The yolk steering wheel is arguably the biggest design change on this car because it is not a traditional wheel by any means. And on top of the shape of the wheel, it gets rid of stocks entirely.

There is not a blinker stock. There’s not a drive stock. None of that is on this car. And all of it has either been shifted to buttons on the wheel or to the screen. We’ll talk about that more in a second.

For now, the door buttons have also been improved and taken from the design of the Model 3, where you press this little button, it pops open the door, and then you take it from there.

The dash is overall much cleaner, and it’s because it’s using this new invisible AC, as Tesla likes to call it. It’s the ventless design taken from the Model 3, where you adjust the vents on-screen.

The headliner is dark, and one thing you may notice is that there is now a new cabin-facing camera. This camera will supposedly be used for the robot taxi network in the future, but it will likely be used for driver monitoring via software updates in the near term.

Upfront, there is a wireless charger for two smartphones, and there’s also one in the rear. And we’ll talk about that more in a second. Finally, the center console has a few different options and a few different sliding drawers.

And then the glove box opens incredibly soft, and it was actually kind of nice to open. The seats are now ventilated, and that feels great to use.

It was a very hot day when I was reviewing this, and using the ventilated seats the whole time I was sitting down, was fantastic.

They’re also adjustable with these controls, and don’t worry, both passengers. When you’re driving, this is your view. Thanks to the yoke steering wheel, you can very clearly see the instrument cluster right in front of you.

And you can see that 17-inch screen right next to you. It’s overall a very clean and very useful design. In the back is the third screen. We’ll do a deep dive into both of those screens in just a minute, but first, let’s talk about the rear seats.

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Three can sit in the back. This is what the view looks like from the back with the all-glass roof. And you can fold the middle seat forward as an armrest for passengers.

And it also has a built-in wireless charger there for two smartphones, as well as cup holders. The screen in the back is beautiful, and it arguably has kind of large bezels compared to what other screens may be, but it still looks great and falls right in line with the quality of the front screen.

My only question is, would it cause issues when you’re looking down at this screen all the time? So now, let’s drive it. This is driving the new Model S, and overall, you can see that this is your view, and it’s a very good expansive panoramic view.

You have great views of what’s all around you, and the yolk arguably makes it a lot easier to see the instrument cluster. Driving the yolk will take some getting used to from anyone, but its controls are fairly simple to use.

Overall, the car drives as it should, and it’s incredibly smooth and great to drive. It’s a very smooth ride, and it’s also a very quiet ride inside, but let’s get into the most exciting part about the Plaid with the launches.

As I mentioned, this does a zero to 60 in two seconds or less, and it has some added visualizations to really make that launch shine on the instrument cluster. So let’s check it out right here.

That was it. That was a launch zero to 60. Now let’s check out how my reaction is. Oh, 60. That’s insane. Oh my gosh. It’s pretty unbelievable just how fast this car will go.

I legitimately felt the sensation of my face melting off, and I don’t put that lightly. This is the fastest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, faster than any roller coaster, just for good measure.

Let’s go ahead and do one more launch. This car is just too much fun, and this is the added benefit you get with the Plaid Model. It’s still going to be amazing with 3.1 seconds zero to 60 in the Long Range Model, but the Plaid takes it to a whole other level.

All right, so this is the yoke right here, and like it or not, all the controls on here are very good and easy to use. These scroll wheels. They scroll even better than the Model 3, and the Model Y does and then these buttons, they have really great feedback.

So if I’m going to hold my finger here to turn, I put it there, and I just felt a vibration, and it’s going to keep signaling until I let go. And then it stops, and this one, I felt the vibration keeps signaling till I stop.

I press harder, and then it keeps going until I press it again. Press harder keeps going until I press it again. Or until I make the turn. And then this one’s extra sensitive right here, lights. The brights turn on lights, and the brights turn off.

This is your horn right there. That works. But this is just an indicator to say that you can go into autopilot using the scroll wheel. And then there’s this new voice commands button here
because on the Model 3 and the Model Y, you would press this scroll wheel to do those voice commands.

Overall, I think it’s a great alternative to having stocks, buttons-wise, and trying out shifting screens. I don’t think I would miss stocks owning this car whatsoever, and I was one of the first critics of them getting rid of stocks.

So here is the new screen on the Model S, and so far, it’s fantastic. It looks incredible when you see it in person. The resolution is great. I’m used to a Model 3 and Model Y screen, and this is way better.

Of course, it’s two inches bigger on the diagonal, and it doesn’t have to have your driving info here. So you have a lot more real estate, but everything is incredibly responsive.

When you go to type, it’s just a lot faster than what is in the Model 3 and the Model Y, and it makes me think that this software and everything might be exclusive to the Model S and X because of an updated computer but here are your main controls.

You know, you’ve got everything from trunk to opening back there, and you have your main controls here. And it’s nice because at any time you can bring up your cameras.

And one of the cool features of this car is that, of course, it’s going to keep my maps up at any time, but I can shift anything around at any time.

So if I move this over here and bring up my music controls, I can shift over my music. So if I want to control my music and I don’t need to know where I’m going, but I want that to be on the side there, it’s very, very handy.

And again, very responsive when you’re doing things like this. So in pedals and steering, we have plaid mode because this is the Plaid Model: comfort, standard sport, all that kind of stuff. And this is one of the big things, auto shift out of park.

So if we turn that on, it will tell me what the directions are for this. So essentially, it’s going to choose for me when I hit the brake going out of park every other time, I’m going to have to shift on-screen with this little thing right here.

I go down to go to reverse and up to go forward. So now I’m going to try auto-shift out of park. So I have to fasten my seatbelt, and then I put my foot on the brake, and it just chose reverse for me.

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