About that steering wheel…


Tesla

As part of its fourth-quarter earnings announcement on Wednesday, Tesla unveiled the long-rumored refresh for its Model S sedan. On the outside, the Model S has a new front bumper with slightly different intakes, a tweaked rear diffuser and new 19- and 21-inch wheel designs. All of the exterior trim is now finished in black to match the Model Y, but the paint color palette remains the same, with white being the only no-cost option.

The interior is the star of the show, though. It’s been completely redesigned, marking the Model S’ first major update since its debut in 2012. There’s a large 17-inch central screen much like that of the Model 3 and Model Y, but the S retains a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster in front of the driver, as well. Tesla says the new center screen is basically a gaming computer with 10 teraflops of processing power, and the released images show it running the popular fantasy RPG game Witcher 3.

Most radical is the new steering wheel. It isn’t exactly a wheel anymore, instead looking like a yoke right out of Star Wars or Knight Rider. There are no stalks, either, meaning the turn signals, lights and other typical features are now controlled by touch buttons on the ‘wheel.’

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Tesla

There’s more carbon fiber or wood trim covering parts of the dashboard and door panels, and the door cards and center console have been redesigned for more storage space and better looks. The rear seats look more sculpted and have a new fold-down armrest with cupholders. Rear-seat passengers get an 8-inch screen that offers the same infotainment and gaming functions as the main screen, and it even works with wireless gaming controllers. The Model S has three-zone climate control, a 22-speaker audio system, heated seats all around (and ventilated front seats), ambient lighting and a glass roof as standard. White, black and beige remain the only interior color options.

The Model S is now available in three different specs. The $79,990 Long Range version has two motors and all-wheel drive, with Tesla quoting a 3.1-second 0-to-60-mph time, a 155-mph top speed and a range of 412 miles. The $119,990 Plaid gains a third motor, “carbon-sleeved rotors” and torque vectoring. The Plaid has 1,020 horsepower boasts a 2.0-second 0-to-60 time (Tesla technically says 1.99 seconds), a 200-mph top speed and a 390-mile range.

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Tesla

Then there’s the $139,990 Plaid Plus, which is the real big deal. Tesla says it has over 1,100 hp and will hit 60 mph in under 2 seconds. It also boats a sub-9-second quarter-mile time, a top speed of 200 mph and a range of over 520 miles.

The only option besides color, trim and wheels is Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite of driver-assist systems, which costs $10,000. (Tesla’s basic Autopilot setup is standard.) The updated Model S is available to order now, with Tesla saying that estimated deliveries for the Long Range and Plaid models will begin in March. If you want the Plaid+ model, you’ll be waiting until late 2021.

This story is being updated.

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