For a few years, the Tesla Model S was the most innovative, groundbreaking car on the market. There was nothing like it. The Model X arrived and took it to another level with its falcon-wing doors. Still, that was just an SUV version of the Model S. As far as sedans, nothing compared for several years. Then the Model 3 stole the show. It arrived with fan fireworks that had never actually been matched in history — the biggest product launch ever. Notably, it innovated in several areas compared to the S and X. When I first drove a Model 3, I was blown away by how much better it was than our 2015 Model S*, by how old it made our Model S seem.
I could understand reasons for choosing a Model S over a Model 3, but they certainly weren’t rational for my own preferences.
From my perspective — and that of a friend of mine who I just talked to, who entered the Tesla world less than 2 years ago when he bought a Model X — the new Model S and Model X interior design brings back that innovative, “futuristic” (as he said), market-leading edge to the Model S. For the first time in years, it makes me want a Model S. Of course, I won’t buy one, because I am but a poor pauper, but it’s interesting to once again be inspired by the Model S rather than one of its younger, more affordable siblings.
One of the biggest factors for me is the touchscreen, which I’m very happy to see matching the Model 3 and Model Y touchscreen now. And the extra screen in the back for kids is, well, let’s be honest, a huge help at certain times. I much prefer that over handheld tablets, and it makes it easier while driving to say, “okay, time for a break,” and turn it off.
The steering wheel and lack of a DRNP stalk seems to be the point of the most controversy. In my opinion, this is the most futuristic car on the planet, and you either have to adjust or you can just buy one of the many other cars on the market, the Model 3 even. Tesla CEO Elon Musk got onto Twitter in the middle of the night to respond about this, which I assume is in part due to even some major Tesla fanboys having concerns about it. From my perspective, as with many things, I see it as Elon being very focused on the future, on where we’re headed, and making plans to arrive just on time (or a tad early) rather than late. As my friend David Havasi, who worked at Tesla from 2012–2019, said in a recent interview, Elon has previously compared it to a famous quote from Wayne Gretzky, that he skates to where the puck is going, rather than chasing it.
No more stalks. Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context & nav map. You can override on touchscreen.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
After you drive without using a PRND stalk/stick for a few days, it gets very annoying to go back & use a shifter!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
The key here is that Elon expects that you’re really not going to need to be doing the driving, except in certain fun areas where you want to.
If I’m going to plop down money for a Model S, I want it to be the most futuristic car on the planet. Now it is. Saying, “Dorothy, we don’t need no stalks where we’re going!” is fine, fun, exciting. Again, if it’s too much of a departure from the norm for someone, there are a few other options on the market. 😀
I don’t really care about there being a little screen behind the steering wheel. Either that or the Model 3 layout is fine by me. Though, I know many people still saw not having that as a downside of the Model 3/Y compared to the Model S/X. So, good on Elon for giving them what they want. (Or maybe he also does prefer it a bit.)
Overall, despite retaining the second screen behind the steering wheel, the new interior looks more minimalistic** than the old one, more like the Model 3’s. This is something I love. I really love it. It is one of my favorite features of a Tesla over a nice electric car from any other brand. Minimalism is wonderful and underrated, in my opinion. The new center console is beautiful too.
I want to go test drive a new Model S and Model X as soon as possible. It’s been a long time since that’s been the case!
Then there’s the matter of acceleration, of course. The new Model S Plaid is the first production car in history to go from 0–60 mph in under 2 seconds. That’s mind blowing. That said, to be 100% honest, I don’t really care as a driver. I have all the power I need in a Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+), and the record-shattering performance lost my interest a couple of years or so ago. It can be more fun to drive a Performance or Plaid model. It can also be fun to ride a roller coaster. On the other hand, some people hate it, and I don’t know many people who want to do so every day. My lowly SR+ gets off the line and to the speed limit (or a bit higher) so fast that other cars look like toys in my rearview mirror and I have to slow down almost as soon as I started. So, as a daily driver, I just don’t see the need for that. Though, technically, it’s astounding, and if you asked me a handful of years ago, I think I wouldn’t say that I saw the Model S being here in 2021. As Elon noted at some point a few years back, much of what is holding the car back at this point is just the street-legal tires.
Plus, you’ve got 412 miles of range (nearly 420!), the market-leading Autopilot/Full Self-Driving tech, and who knows what software updates around the corner? You’ve got the best infotainment system in the industry — by far. You’ve got the tremendously useful and growing Supercharger network. You’ve got new batteries. You’ve got a “22-speaker, 960-watt audio system with active noise canceling.” The future is now, and the future is the Tesla Model S Plaid or Model X Plaid.
*Shared Model S, as part of the Tesla Shuttle fleet.
**Ironically, the word “minimalistic” doesn’t seem very minimalistic itself. Funny.
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