New Tesla Model S and Model X ‘yoke’ steering wheel is legal in the UK
2022 Tesla models will get an unusual half steering wheel and a 1,006bhp ‘Plaid’ powertrain
- Model S Plaid+ offers huge 520-mile range
- 0-60mph in two seconds
- On sale now
A new ‘yoke’ steering wheel for the upcoming Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X has been approved for use in the UK. According to the Department for Transport and the Sunday Times, there are no stipulations for the shape or appearance of steering wheels or similar controls. That means Tesla is free to fit the curious U-shaped steering wheel to its refreshed Model S and Model X line-up, which are due next year.
The other big news is that both models are getting a new ‘Plaid’ powertrain, which is set to replace the Performance model with its ‘Ludicrous’ acceleration mode. The Plaid setup incorporates three electric motors and its 1,006bhp power output means the Model S can reach 0-60mph in just two seconds.
Not only that but the Tesla Model S Plaid+ offers perhaps the highest range of any electric car. You can order the updated Model S now, although the Tesla website currently says delivery is expected in 2022.
New Tesla Model S and Model X interior
The new Tesla interior design is likely to be rather divisive. The all-new steering wheel appears to have been cut in half, so it resembles the controls in an aeroplane - perhaps fitting given the performance on offer. While it has been confirmed as legal, we have doubts about how useful the yoke will be when you’re trying to manoeuvre around tight car parks or execute a three-point turn.
Tesla has got rid of the stalks behind the wheel too, so all the controls you’d normally find there, such as the indicators and wiper functions, are integrated with the wheel itself. They’re touch-sensitive panels instead of buttons and, again, we’re not convinced this is a better solution than the setup in current Teslas.
With the top of the wheel removed, the view to the newly fitted digital instrument cluster is uninterrupted. Next to it is a new 17-inch tablet-like touchscreen, which we’re told is ultra-bright and responsive, and able to tilt left and right. You can use it as a games console as well as an infotainment screen, although you won’t be allowed to use the function while the car is moving. It’s likely the games console option won’t be able to be selected from the touchscreen once you put the car in ‘drive’.
Tesla has also redesigned the second row of seats. There’s extra leg and headroom, plus another screen in the back of the front armrest. You’ll be able to watch TV or play games on this even when the car is moving. Front- and rear-seat passengers both get access to a pair of wireless phone charging pads. Other tech includes Bluetooth connectivity for multiple devices and a 22-speaker stereo with active noise cancelling.
The American brand’s ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ has also been enhanced. It can now drive itself on the motorway - even handling lane changes - plus drive out of a tight parking space and park itself. Despite the name, it’s important to remember that the Model S still can’t fully drive itself, and relying on the car completely is illegal in many countries.
Tesla Model S Plaid
Previewed by a slightly unusual Nurburgring lap record attempt last year, the Tesla Model S Plaid is now part of the line-up. Slotting in at the top of the range, the Plaid offers a 200mph top speed and a 390-mile range, while the Plaid+ ups that to 520 miles. It’s worth noting that European figures may be slightly different but no electric car currently on sale gets close to the 520-mile quoted figure.
With supercar pace comes a similarly chunky price. While the standard ‘Long Range’ model starts at just under £84,000 at the time of writing, the Plaid costs £110,980 before options, and the Plaid+ is another £20,000 dearer. Paint colours cost £1,450 or £2,500 and, if you don’t like the standard 19-inch alloy wheels, the 21-inch wheels cost £4,400. Pick another interior colour and the self-driving options and you’ll have spent another £8,800.
Tesla Model X Plaid
The new Tesla Model X Plaid gets the same powertrain and, even with the heavier SUV body, it hits 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds and will complete a quarter-mile drag in under 10 seconds. Up to 340 miles of range is promised, which is only 20 miles off the Long Range version but, again, these figures could be slightly different under WLTP testing. The Model X Plaid costs the same as the Model S, at £110,980.
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