Tesla may be the undisputed leader of the electric revolution, but other automakers are making up ground quickly. Which might explain why the California-based automaker just dropped a redesigned Model S, a car that’s all but certain to solidify its place at the top of the EV pile.
Unveiled on Wednesday, the new Model S features a more aerodynamic exterior, a simplified interior and a more robust powertrain that can travel up to 520 miles on a single charge. Whether the marque will admit it or not, the new edition certainly looks like Tesla’s attempt to upstage much buzzed-about cars like the Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air.
The comprehensive refresh is the first major redesign the Model S has undergone since it was introduced in 2012. But from its exterior you wouldn’t know much has changed, as the new sedan doesn’t look radically different from its predecessor. It does seem sportier, though, thanks to a sleeker hood and rear. Tesla claims these seemingly minor tweaks make the Model S the world’s most aerodynamic production vehicle, with a drag co-efficient of 0.208. The glass roof also now comes standard.
The car’s interior has undergone a much more extensive makeover. The cabin shares the same futuristic design as the EV maker’s other vehicles, but it’s more streamlined. In fact, the front seat area is downright spartan compared to other EVs in its class. The dash features two screens: one for the driver and one positioned in the center that controls the car’s infotainment system (which now also offers videogames like Cyberpunk). The steering wheel has also been swapped out for a rectangular steering yoke, more like something you’d find in a plane (or David Hasselhoff’s KITT car from Knight Rider). There’s also an additional screen on the center console in the back from which passengers can choose their own entertainment options.
The upgrades to the powertrain and battery may well be the most impressive part of this redesign. The “Long Range” dual-motor version of the EV will have a range of 412 miles, while the “Plaid” model will be able to go 390 miles on a single charge. The slight dip in range will be worth it to some as its powertrain will be able to deliver an astounding 1,020 horses. That level of grunt will make the car rocket from zero to 60 mph in 1.99 seconds (a production-car record) and hit a top speed of 200 mph (with the “right tires,” according to Musk).
Maybe most intriguing of all, though, is the upcoming “Plaid Plus” variant, which can do everything the regular “Plaid” can but also promises an industry-topping range of 520 miles. For those keeping score at home, that’s three miles more of range than the Lucid Air.
The “Long Range” and “Plaid” variants of the new Model S are set to be available in March and will start $79,990 and $119,000, respectively. The “Plaid Plus” will reportedly follow later this year and start at $139,000.