Release Date: Available now
Price: From $135,990
Power: Dual motor, AWD
Battery range: 396 miles
0 to 60 mph: 1.99 seconds
Smarts: Autopilot, Optional FSD Autopilot upgrade, Tesla Premium connectivity, AAA gaming
The Tesla Model S Plaid is the current flagship of the Tesla line-up, and one of the most Tesla-y cars yet. The Model S has always been at the forefront, but the new Plaid trim takes that to brand new heights.
Much of the emphasis is on speed and power, with Tesla boasting that the car is among the fastest production cars ever to hit the streets. Plus you get all the same hi-tech features Tesla is known for, including crazy amounts of range and the Autopilot autonomous driver assistance system.
Here's everything you need to know about the Tesla Model S Plaid, including price, availability, interior and the all-too-impressive 0-60 time.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Latest news and updates (Updated June 16)
- It turns out Tesla video games can still be played when the car is moving, meaning it is possible for the driver to play too - which is spectacularly stupid
- Tesla has started rolling out the Full Self Driving beta 10.2 to drivers who scored a perfect 100/100 on the automaker's driver safety score
- In response to criticism, Tesla has knocked $500 off the cost of upgrading the Self Driving hardware of older Tesla Model X and Model Ys. So now it only costs $1,000
Tesla Model S Plaid: Price and availability
The Tesla Model S Plaid is available now, following Tesla's June 10 2021 'delivery event'. Originally the car was set to cost $119,990, but has since been subject to price increases making it $135,990.
The Model S Plaid can be purchased directly from Tesla, with a non-refundable order fee of $100. Delivery is expected between June and August. Meanwhile the standard Model S will arrive anytime between November and next June - depending on the options you get.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Performance and top speed
The thing that sets the Model S apart from the rest of the Model S range is its speed and power. “Beyond Ludicrous” is the term Tesla uses on its website, a reference to the Ludicrous Speed” scene from Spaceballs.
While previous Model S cars have only had two motors, the Plaid and Plaid Plus have three. This means the Model S Plaid has 1,020 horsepower, a top speed of 200 miles per hour, and can go from 0-60 mph in 1.99 seconds. According to Tesla, that makes it the “quickest accelerating car in production today,"
Tesla also announced that the Model S Plaid had broken the world quarter-mile speed record back in June, managing the distance in just 9.2 seconds.
That all tracks with the Model S Plaid’s performance at the Laguna Seca racetrack in California. Unconfirmed reports (opens in new tab) claim that the car managed to set a new record by completing a full lap in 1:29:92 — the first time an EV has managed to come in under 1:30. That also beats the car’s previous time by 0.4 seconds.
On top of this the Model S Plaid includes Tesla's new 'Palladium' motor, which uses carbon-sleeved rotors that promise to boost power and efficiency, while also decreasing the overall size. Coupled with a new drag coefficient of 0.208 it means the Model S Plaid is going to avoid wasting those precious watts to get you places.
Elon Musk also revealed a new heating system which will benefit prospective Tesla owners in colder regions. Apparently the new system makes the car 30% more efficient in cold climates, and requires 50% less energy to heat the cabin in freezing conditions
Tesla Model S Plaid: Design and features
Both Model S Plaid models appear pretty much identical to one another, and the existing Model S. Which makes sense, because on the outside they are all the same car.
You get the same old Sedan frame everyone is familiar with, with all those same options. Aerodynamics, style, a choice of 19- or 21-inch wheels, it’s all there. You also get the same 28 cubic feet of cargo space, a secure front trunk and room inside for five adults.
You get all the usual features you’d expect from a Model S. That includes the tinted glass sunroof, Sentry Mode. mobile app control, yoke steering, 22-speaker audio, wireless charging, HEPA air filtering, heated seats and steering wheel, and an array of hi-resolution displays.
Both the Tesla Model S Plaid comes with Autopilot as standard, which gives your car limited control over steering, acceleration, blind spot alerts and braking within a lane.
You’re also able to add “Full Self Driving” Autopilot for an additional $12,000, which packs in lane change assist and auto navigation on the highway. If that is too much money, you can always opt for the $199 a month FSD subscription service which gives you all the same features for significantly less money. And there's no obligation or contracts, so you can cancel it anytime you like
Full Self Driving is not full driver-free autonomy, though, so always make sure to pay attention to the road.
The Tesla Model S Plaid was also speculated to include retractable spoiler, which emphasizes just how powerful and lightweight the car actually is. However, it doesn't appear as though this particular feature made it past the prototype stage and can't be found on production models.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Interior
The Tesla Model S Plaid includes a 12.3-inch driver display, 8-inch second row display, and the 17-inch infotainment touchscreen. That infotainment display includes a 10 teraflop gaming computer, and wireless controller compatibility.
Tesla has also redesigned the interior for a more comfortable ride. The front seats now have more headroom and legroom, while the backseats have more space in general. The new model also comes with hidden air vents, and like the Model 3 and Model Y users can control where the air flows using one of the car's two touchscreens.
The Model S Plaid's infotainment system has had a major graphical overhaul, with a brand new customizable user interface and improved gesture control. That way it should be easier to control the various features inside the car mid-drive. Sadly there's no changing the fact that touchscreens are not very tactile, and are significantly harder to use accurately when you're not looking at them.
Buyers also get a year’s free access to Tesla’s Premium Connectivity, which offers internet browsing, music streaming, ‘Careoke’, video streaming service access, live traffic and satellite-view maps.
Finally Elon Musk confirmed that the audio system has been upgraded, and now features 22 adaptive speakers throughout the car. Not only will Tesla be able to improve quality via over the air updates, the system will alter the audio to best suit whatever content is playing at the time.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Battery and range
The Tesla Model S Plaid is reported to have a 95kWh battery, which Tesla claims will offer up to 396 miles of range. That’s less than the long range Model S, which offers 405 miles on a single charge. However, that model isn’t nearly as fast.
The car is set to be compatible with Tesla’s 250kW superchargers, which promises to offer 187 miles of range in just 15 minutes. Musk hinted that Tesla would be developing faster chargers in the future, with “280 kW, 300 kW and eventually 350 kW” speeds. But there's no timeline, and there's no telling whether those speeds will even be available on the current Model S Plaid.
Tesla Model S Plaid Plus?
Originally Tesla had planned to release two Model S Plaid cars, the standard Plaid which has just launched and a more powerful "Plaid Plus". The Plaid Plus was set to arrive in mid-2022, with a significantly higher $144,490 price tag.
However the upgraded model had been greyed out ever since Tesla confirmed the Plaid's June launch, before Elon Musk confirmed that the car had been cancelled (opens in new tab).
Musk's reasoning was that the standard Plaid was "more than good enough", which means the Plaid Plus wasn't necessary. He later clarified that he was specifically talking about range, claiming (opens in new tab) more than 400 miles of range on a car isn't needed.
“What we are seeing is that once you have a range above 400 miles, more range doesn’t really matter", Musk said. "There are essentially zero trips above 400 miles where the driver doesn’t need to stop for restroom, food, coffee, etc. anyway.”
So what was the difference? In addition to offering an extended 520 miles of range (powered by the 115kWh battery pack, the Plaid Plus was designed to be a lot more powerful than the standard Plaid model.
That includes 1,100 horsepower, and what was alleged to be the fastest 0-60 (under 1.99 seconds) and quarter mile acceleration of any production car ever made.
Inside we were looking at the exact same car, albeit significantly more expensive. But, sadly, it's not meant to be. If you want something better than the Model S Plaid, you're going to have to wait until 2023 and pick up the $200,000 2nd gen Tesla Roadster.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Outlook
The Tesla Model S Plaid doesn't change much about Tesla's premium sedan, but the changes that have been made are still very important. The range of the Model S Plaid is particularly impressive, and proves that despite the increased number of electric cars on the road Tesla still has them beat.
While one could argue that speed and acceleration aren't particularly important in a road car, those improvements still matter too. Not only is it another way the Tesla Model S Plaid manages to beat the competition, it also proves that you don't need to sacrifice power or speed to have an electric car. Which is more than enough to give those gasoline-fuelled sports cars a run for their money.