Tesla Model S: new 1006bhp Plaid powertrain takes off

Published: 28 January 2021

► Update for Model S and Model X
► Tweaked exterior, very different interior
► More range. more power, more money

Tesla has updated its Model S saloon with new powertrains, new prices and some interesting new interior and exterior tweaks.  

A new, tri-motored Plaid version of the Model S puts out 1006bhp for a 0-60mph dash of under two seconds, while a long-range powertrain extends the saloon’s range to 520 miles. If you want the speed and the stamina, a Plaid+ will also be available soon. 

The prices are as below, and on the UK site at least, deliveries for the refreshed Model S appear to start no sooner than 2022. Tesla is giving the Model X SUV a similiar revamp. 

  • Long Range S £83,980
  • Plaid S £110,980
  • Plaid+ S £130,980 

What’s else is new?

Alongside the improved powertrain, the Model S also gets a heavily updated interior, which riffs on ideas we’ve already seen in the Model 3. The Model S’s distinctive touchscreen has been rotated 90º and is now adjustable – and there’s an additional 10-inch panel for rear passengers.

Powering the new screen is an upgraded CPU, which Tesla says is capable of processing 10 teraflops of data. Several stock images appear to advertise the Witcher 3 – a game that requires serious graphical horsepower.

Outside, the changes are less significant; the grille has been reworked slightly, and the result is a more aggressive look that channels Ford’s Mustang a little. 

However, the most significant change is a new U-shaped steering wheel, which seems to draw inspiration from aeronautic controls. Decked out with two clickwheels, it clearly lends itself to autonomous driving – it remains to be seen how much it’ll rotate, and whether Musk’s engineers have used a variable ratio to remove any ergonomic issues. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast