And a rectangle steering wheel.
Having launched the Model S in 2012, Tesla has now given the electric sedan its first meaningful refresh in both style and performance. With little fanfare, Tesla has updated its shareholders and its website with the new look and added a Plaid+ option advertising a 520-mile range, a 0-60 mph time of under two seconds, a top speed of over 200 mph, and an 8-second quarter mile. Tesla hasn't given an exact number but claims it makes the Model S the "fastest accelerating production car ever made." The Plaid+ powertrain option costs $139,990 before any state, or federal incentives are included and available later in the year.
All the Model S trims are getting updated powertrains, battery packs, battery modules, and drive units. The new base dual-motor Model S Long Range is set to be available in March with a 412-mile range (10 miles more than the Long Range Plus) and starts at $79,990. The 390-mile Model S Plaid now comes in at $119,000.
The exterior updates are modest and give the Model S more aggressive haunches and a sleeker-looking hood. It's a credit to the original design that nine years later, it didn't need a lot of work to bring it right up to date. The bigger design update is on the inside.
The update keeps the interior streamlined and loses the portrait screen similar to the Model 3 and Model Y units. Rear passengers now get a small screen mounted in the center console as Tesla continues pushing towards getting more entertainment in its cars. The dash cluster remains the same, but there is an elephant in the cockpit: A rectangular airplane-style yoke replacing the steering wheel. It's a shameless piece of 1980's science fiction nostalgia in an otherwise ultra-modern style and substance interior.
Automakers have long given up trying to reinvent the steering wheel, so it'll be interesting to see if the yoke is useable or if we'll be seeing new Model S owners struggling in parking lots. You can, of course, for $10,000 add "Full Self-Driving Capability," which features Autopark and Summon to negate any drawbacks to using a slim rectangle to steer a road car.