Bjørn Nyland has scored some facetime with a new Model S sporting the April 2016 upgrade and does a nice job of talking through some of the obvious physical differences in the car vs the legacy Model S. The video walkthrough also gives great perspective as to what the car looks like in real life, outside of the studio, showroom, and fancy lights. Below are the key points from the video and, obviously, the embedded video at the bottom.
The license plate holder is built into the front fascia. I really dislike how bold and ugly the new integrated plate holder is. Yes, front plates are required in many states now, but dang, that just looks ugly to me. I really liked the clean lines of the front fascia — even if only for the honeymoon period until the plates arrived, it was nice to see the super clean front … but no longer. The new fascia has the plate holder built in, which likely results in a more streamlined look after the plates are on the car, which is admittedly much longer than the brief period before they are put on, but it still rubs me wrong. (Editor’s Note: Also, some states don’t require front plates! What about us? #notthrilled … or maybe the design will depend on the location where the car is ordered/shipped?)
Adaptive LED Headlights! This is one of the more exciting upgrades to me. Though, not because the current Model S headlights are lacking … but because these new headlights look awesome. The daytime running lights (the LED-lit surrounding of the headlights that’s always on) borrow the smoother look that was used on the Model X, resulting in a much cleaner, smoother, high-tech finish. The light coming off of them is more consistent and a more even white. The actual lights themselves should also last longer and because they are adjustable, and will follow the road with a fair amount of precision. Check out one of Bjorn’s other videos for a walkthrough of the adaptive headlights.
The new Model S doesn’t have an air inlet behind the front Tesla logo. The Model X utilizes this blacked out area as an air inlet but the new Model S fascia doesn’t appear to use this area at all.
The autopilot radar sensor is now hidden. The previous iteration had the autopilot radar sitting dead center of the lower grill on the Model S, which Bjorn notes would often capture snow and other road debris, which would impact the functionality of the sensor. Solid move by Tesla and yet another data point supporting the continuous improvement model. One of my favorite quotes from a mentor of mine is, “better done than perfect,” meaning that it is better to get the product out the door and learn from it than it is to endlessly iterate in a lab or design studio somewhere.
The proof is in the pudding on this, as Tesla recently passed the 47-million-mile mark for cars driving with autopilot in around 6 months of the solution being in production, whereas Google has only accumulated ~1.5 million miles in its autonomous cars in several years of development and testing. Get the product built and get it out … learn, improve, ship, repeat. Tesla seems to have mastered this while at the same time developing an equally important customer base that understands — if not accepts — the approach as better overall.
The new Model S passed on several improvements that came with Model X. Most notably, the integrated spray nozzles for the windshield washer fluid on the wipers. This might be an example of Tesla realizing that not every feature that can be added should be added, and trimming the fat on the reapplications to the Model S can be worthwhile, but whatever the reason, it didn’t make it into the new Model S. Pockets in the front doors were also skipped over. Tesla seems to have a design aversion to pockets and storage locations, so this is likely that same purist theme speaking into the new Model S design.
The new Model S side skirts are painted the same color as the car. The original Model S side skirts were black plastic which was ditched in favor of fully painted panels. I personally prefer the carbon fiber skirts from Unplugged Performance, but those don’t come from the factory, so I guess they aren’t a fair comparison. This appears to be just an aesthetic change which I’m sure some will like, some won’t, and some people just plain won’t notice.
The rear diffuser is now painted black plastic vs metal. It’s not clear if this change is functional or a cost savings, but given the change to the front radar sensor location and metal’s ability to block signals of many types, this change could similarly be a means of hiding some new rear sensors while maintaining a similar look to the car, but we have no details to confirm this one way or the other. Bjørn’s video gives a nice close shot of the new rear diffuser with an old Model S sitting in the next spot over.
The new diffuser also cuts straight across the back of the car whereas the previous generation has some channels in it to precisely shape the airflow under the car in an attempt to minimize the coefficient of drag from the car.
Check out the full video below:
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