Tesla Model S, Model X Plaid performance variants revealed

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 1,80,750 cars in the last three months of 2020 – a production record for the company.

• New Model S and Model X Plaid variants put out 1020hp
• Model S additionally gets even more powerful Plaid+ trim developing 1115hp
• Model S Plaid+ to have range of over 837km (US EPA test)
• Model S, Model S get new wide aspect 17-inch touchscreens, 8.0-inch touchscreen for rear passengers

Tesla Model S Plaid and Model S Plaid+
Set to go on sale in the coming months, the Tesla Model S Plaid develops 1020hp from a tri-motor electric powertrain, which is good for a claimed 0-96kph 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 0-250kph in a quarter of a mile and top out at 322kph “with the right tyres,” Musk added.

The Model S also receives an 1115hp Plaid+ flagship, which bumps range up from an estimated 628km to more than 837km (on the US EPA test) – more than any EV currently in production – as well as cutting the 0-96kph time yet further.

Tesla Model X Plaid
Sharing the same running gear as the Model S Plaid, the larger Model X Plaid needs 2.5sec to complete the 0-96kph 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.

Tesla Model S, Model X get new battery tech, overhauled cabin
Aside from the new variants, 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 17-inch widescreen unit that offers “exceptional responsiveness” and can be tilted from left to right to give easier access for passengers or the driver as needed. There’s also a new, separate 8.0-inch 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 overridden.

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.

Tesla coming to India
After years of speculation, Tesla is finally set to enter India this year with the carmaker now officially having opened a registered office in the country earlier this month. The carmaker is expected to kick-start it’s India innings with the entry-level Model 3 with larger models such as the Model S sedan and Model X and Model Y SUVs likely to also gradually be launched in the country. The carmaker is also looking at the feasibility of opening its direct sales model in the country enabling customers to place an order with the company online (with all formalities and paperwork also completed digitally) and take delivery of their vehicles from Tesla’s retail network.