The first reviews are in, and the new Tesla Model S Plaid is a verified speed demon.
Looking at early reviews of Tesla’s newest car — a revamped Model S sedan with three electric motors and more powerful acceleration — publications are mostly impressed, despite doubts about a redesigned steering wheel and gear selector.
The first 25 Plaid cars were delivered at a Fremont, California launch event last month where CEO Elon Musk first showed off the $130,000 vehicle. In the weeks since, the speedy EV (it goes from 0 to 60 mph in under two seconds) has been tested and scrutinized.
MotorTrend has published four separate reviews for the Plaid: one solely about the yoke steering wheel; another was a speed test; a third was a look at the new interior, with a second backseat screen and new user interface on the now-horizontal touchscreen up front; and finally, a how-to guide about launching the car to record speeds.
The Plaid passed the speed test, hitting Musk’s promised 0-to-60 time of just under two seconds.
As for the steering wheel, MotorTrend called the video-game redesign “cool,” but ultimately the “yoke is hit and miss” when it comes to, well, actually steering the car.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal called the Plaid a “technical tour de force,” praising its quickness and silent ride. It’s power and thrust ruined (in a good way) reviewer Dan Neil.
“…the Plaid sometimes had a melancholic effect on me,” Neil wrote. “Man, nothing will ever feel fast again.”
Car and Driver recommends saving your money and sticking with the revamped Model S, which is still nearly $80,000 to start without the expensive Plaid features. It has better range than the performance Plaid: 405 miles on a single charge compared to Plaid’s 390-mile range.
“The 1020-hp Plaid model sounds compelling, but its six-figure asking price represents diminishing value—unless you must have a car with the performance of a Top Fuel dragster,” reviewer Drew Dorian wrote.
Meanwhile, “E for Electric” host Alex Guberman looked beyond the frighteningly fast speeds and put the automatic gear shifter to the test. With the Plaid, for the first time Tesla removed the gear selector — although there are touchscreen and physical button controls as back-up.
He was surprised how quickly he adjusted to the lack of gear stalk, and how well the car predicted whether he wanted to reverse, drive, or park based on the position of the car, and whether or not the driver has buckled up.” (Tesla had always had a more traditional gear stalk on the right side of the steering wheel.)
Edmunds wasn’t as jubilant about the Tesla variant as the many YouTube influencers in the EV space, but it still gave the Plaid high marks despite the high price. Overall the car data firm gave the newest Tesla an 8.1 out of 10. Like Car and Driver, the review recommended the Long Range “regular” Tesla Model S.
As Edmunds put it: “So is the updated Model S one of the best EVs around for 2021? We’d say so.”
Looks like all that extra speed justifies the Plaid’s eye-popping price tag, but maybe not enough to make it the all-around best EV available.