by Aiden Eksteen
With a mind-bending 1,020 horsepower at its disposal by virtue of its revolutionary electric tri-motor powertrain, the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid can easily be seen as a hypercar presented at a third of the price in a humble sedan suit. Yet when you plant the accelerator pedal to the floor, the unassuming midsize 4-door sedan will launch from 0 to 60 mph in just under 2 seconds, making it the fastest production car of all time. There aren't really any competitors to directly compare to the Model S Plaid, with only the Rimac Nevera coming close - but this is a hyper-coupe with a $2.4 million dollars starting price. The Porsche Taycan Turbo and the Audi RS e-tron GT are compelling alternatives that don't require such a substantial outlay as the Nevera, but neither can match the Tesla for both speed and all-electric range. Tesla has also significantly updated the Model S Plaid for the new model year, imbuing it with a new yoke-styled steering wheel, a fancier infotainment setup, and improved cabin quality and space, making it more attractive than ever before.
Along with the most significant facelift for the Model S range in years, the Plaid arrives as a new trim and range-topper, effectively replacing the Model S Performance. Compared with the pre-facelift model, the hood tapers down a bit more and the wheel arches are more pronounced, while there are also wider wheels/tires and flared fenders on the Plaid.
On the inside, Tesla takes its well-known minimalistic design to a new level. It even removed the upper part of the steering wheel. The vertical touchscreen has been removed and replaced with a new high-resolution landscape screen with all-new computing power behind it. The sizable digital instrument cluster has been dumped in favor of a newer, smaller unit. Rear passengers now have their own infotainment screen housed within the front row's armrest, and finally, the storage space underneath the old touchscreen interface and the dual front cupholders have been replaced with a wireless charging space for two phones and a center armrest/storage space that separates the driver and passenger.
Even these cosmetic and technology updates pale compared to the Plaid's performance, though. Under ideal conditions, Tesla promises a 0-60 time of under two seconds.
It's worth noting that Tesla updates its models throughout the year, so the Plaid on sale earlier in 2021 could differ from one sold at the end of the same year. There was originally scheduled to be an even higher-performance version called the Tesla Model S Plaid Plus, but a few weeks before market launch, Elon Musk said the standard model performed better than anticipated and that there was no need for a Plus variant
See trim levels and configurations:
Single Speed Automatic
Tesla's success in imbuing the Model S Plaid sedan with 1,020 hp and 1,050 lb-ft is mindboggling. The EV automaker achieved this by utilizing the worlds first-ever tri-motor setup which constitutes a single electric motor positioned at the front axle, and two at the rear. As one can imagine, acceleration off-the-line is blisteringly fast in this EV - the car boasting a sub 2-second 0 to 60 mph sprint time. Outputs are governed by a single-speed automatic transmission and ceded through to all of the electric motors resulting in what's essentially all-wheel drive. There isn't a sedan in existence with this kind of performance, at present.
Most press will be highlighting the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid's genuinely insane performance specifications and while it is truly impressive in this regard, the Tesla is an electric sedan at its core. What's really mind-blowing is that not only is the Model S Plaid an absolutely bonkers electric hypercar masquerading as a sedan, but also a class-leading electric car with its 102/99/101 MPG fuel-economy equivalent returns and its 348-mile range. As with any Tesla, the Model S Plaid comes with a futuristic, distinct, and novel design from the outside in. The cabin is spacious and comfy and bears a modern and minimalistic aesthetic with plenty of the latest tech and features, too. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has subjected the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid to review for its crashworthiness, but with Tesla's extensive track record of near-consummate safety ratings awarded to all their cars, we're certain the Model S Plaid sedan upholds the same standards. Tesla really is pioneering the performance EV space and have spurred several other automakers to hunker down and focus their energy on developing competitive performance EVs. Still, the Model S Plaid doesn't come cheap, with an MSRP in excess of $130k, excluding options and destination fees.
The 2021 Model S Plaid is a specialty vehicle and is currently a one-model-only offering, as it was so impressive after launch that the one-up Plaid Plus derivative was no longer needed. It comes fully equipped without any options between trims and packages, other than the Full Self Driving package for $10,000. You can, however, choose which color you'd like your Plaid S to come in and we'd certainly suggest going for one of the more vibrant options. The price of the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid sedan will start at around $145,990 with all of these additions, but that is likely to change depending on the continuous updates.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid: