Tesla’s three main models get a refresh

Tesla has been fiddling with its three major models – the Model 3, Model S and Model X, bringing incremental improvements to tech throughout the ranges. For the Model S and Model X, both are getting the ultra-powerful Plaid treatment, complete with new interiors, if you’re willing to wait.

In the case of the Model S and X, the interior changes represent the largest overhaul since either was released, though neither will make it to the UK until 2022. The Model X, in particular, is carving its own niche in the car world with the launch of the Model X Plaid variant – which could be considered the world’s first electric hyper SUV.

Model 3 updates

We’ll start with the Model 3 for which the updates have been a tad more subtle and are predominantly styling and software-based.

On the styling front, much of the exterior chrome, such as that on the side repeaters, door handles and window surrounds, has been replaced with satin black trim. The Performance model is available with new 20 inch alloys and will come with the powerlift boot lid. Inside, matt black finishes replace the previous gloss and the centre console has been redesigned and includes much-needed wireless charging for two smartphones. A new heat pump should make interior temperature control more efficient.

Software has been updated to improve scheduled departure options, allowing owners to precondition the car’s battery, as well as scheduling charging to take advantage of cheaper energy rates. Sentry mode gains better footage quality and, for added security, the glovebox pin feature is now standard across the range.

Model S and Model X updates

The updates to the Model S and Model X are more substantial and, if you’ve kept an eye on Twitter, controversial – so we’ll get that out the way first. The so-called “stalkless steering yoke” is an optional reinvention of the steering wheel which essentially lops off the top and squares out the bottom to make it more akin to a traditional aeroplane yoke control.

It offers an unobstructed view of the driver’s digital display and is multifunctional, completely doing away with stalk controls and replacing them with touch controls. There was some debate after Elon Musk seemingly intimated that the car could indicate automatically depending on the nav and sensors, however, this can apparently be overridden.

Aside from that gimmick, the rest of the interior has been given a thorough overhaul with the portrait touchscreen being replaced by a 17 inch landscape-oriented widescreen display. It can be tilted to offer either the driver or passenger more direct access. In the back, an eight inch touchscreen enables them to control some infotainment functions, too.

Speaking of infotainment, the system now operates with 10 teraflops of processing power – which is in line with the latest gaming systems. As standard, there’s a new 22-speaker sound system with active noise cancelling and 960 watts of power.

More substantial changes are made under the skin with both the Model S and Model X available in Tesla’s flagship Plaid spec. You can read about the Model S Plaid as part of our Tesla Battery Day roundup, but essentially in either car you can now opt for a tri-motor version with 1100bhp. In the Model S this equates to 0-60mph in 1.99 seconds, a quarter mile topping out at over 155mph and 200mph at the very top end. The Model X is a little slower, taking 2.5 seconds to 60mph, but that still makes it easily the fastest accelerating production SUV on the planet.

The standard Model S Plaid will do 390 miles (EPA), and a long-range Plaid+ version can do 520 miles on a charge. The Model X Plaid will do 340 miles on a charge. New battery management tech has been used on the refreshed Model S and X to help maximise available range.

Price and availability

The improved Model 3 is available now with prices in-line with the previous car. The Model S and Model X Long Range cars can be bought for £83,980 and £90,980 respectively, with the Plaid versions starting at £110,980, and the Model S Plaid+ a cool £130,980. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until 2022 to get your hands on one.

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