HomeVehicleCars2021 Tesla Model S Refresh Vs Old Model S: Differences Explained

2021 Tesla Model S Refresh Vs Old Model S: Differences Explained

With Tesla announcing the refreshed designs of the Model S and X a couple of days ago, a lot of discussions are going on in the EV community. Tesla has focused mainly on the interior and that is where people are having some debates. The steering wheel, for example, has caused quite a bit of debate. Let’s take a look at the things Tesla has changed in this new design, and what is still the same.

2021 Tesla Model S Refresh

2021 Tesla Model S Refresh Vs Old Model S: What’s New


The interior of the vehicle has undergone a massive change for Tesla’s premium sedan. The major change is the center touchscreen. Tesla has foregone the portrait touchscreen and has instead added a more horizontal unit, much like in the Model 3 and Y. The instrument cluster behind the steering wheel remains, though.

The second major interior change is the steering wheel. It is what Tesla calls a “yoke steering”. Something similar is seen in aeroplane cockpits too. Tesla had unveiled a similar steering wheel design for the Roadster back in 2017. Tesla says:

“The ultimate focus on driving: no stalks, no shifting. With a stalkless steering yoke, you can enjoy both the best car to drive, and the best car to be driven in.”

In addition to this, there is also a third screen in the cockpit, placed behind the center console. This third screen is for allowing the rear passengers access to the climate control and audio system. They can also use it for gaming, as it has an inbuilt gaming computer with 10 teraflops of processing power. There is also wireless controller compatibility for gaming. The audio system consists of a 22-speaker setup with active noise canceling.


The tinted glass roof is a new feature in the 2021 Model S. Tesla has also added ultraviolet and infrared protection on all glass, and heated seats for everybody. The exterior design is characterized by the chrome delete, which has now become a standard feature in all Tesla models. The front-end of the vehicle has also received a slight update.

Tesla has also updated the overall shape by just a bit. They claim that, with a drag coefficient of 0.208, the Model S is now the most aerodynamic production car. This claim is yet to be confirmed. We will most probably see this figure of drag coefficient in the Plaid+ variant, which will have the highest range ever in a Tesla till date.


Tesla was constantly giving the Model S performance upgrades through the OTA software upgrades. This had resulted in a massive increase in overall range, with the Long Range Plus variant going up to 406 miles (653 km) on a single charge. However, with this design refresh, Tesla is going in for a complete overhaul. They have changed the entire powertrain, making it more efficient. Components like the heat pump, previously seen in the Model Y, are added.

Tesla got rid of the Performance variant for the 2021 Model S, renaming it as Plaid. The variant previously labeled as Plaid will now be called Plaid+. The entry-level Long Range gets a range boost, with an estimated range of 412 miles (663 km) now. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) in 3.1 seconds. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive retains its place in the Long Range, and shells out 670 hp. This variant costs $79,990, as compared to the 2020 cost of $71,990, which it had reached in October last year.

The Performance variant in the 2020 Model S cost $99,990, but the Plaid version costs $20,000 more. It comes with a tri-motor powertrain, improving the 0-60 mph timing to under 2 seconds. Tesla claims that the Plaid variant will reach 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. The updated powertrain also allows the Plaid variant to get maximum power of 1,060 hp. The effect of improved performance falls on the range, as it goes down to 390 miles (628 km).

The Plaid+ Variant

Tesla has also announced a third variant, the Plaid+. This variant will be the epitome of performance seen in a Tesla vehicle. A range of 520+ miles (837+ km) along with an expected power output 1,100 hp is set to impress many. This variant will be capable of accelerating in less than 1.99 seconds, although it hasn’t been proven yet.

This variant will cost $139,990, making it the most expensive Tesla yet. This also puts it in the group of Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air, although it is still considerably cheaper.

Our Opinion

The design refresh for the Model S has received mixed opinions from the EV community. Most people are glad that Tesla finally gave its premium sedan a hardware update. However, many people also feel that Tesla had an opportunity for a complete design overhaul, but probably missed out on it. The powertrain and battery packs updates were expected, with the Plaid version and new structural battery packs coming. The steering wheel seems a bit too much though and has received negative feedback from many. There is also a case of whether the authorities will allow for that kind of a steering wheel. For now, Tesla has updated the specs and interior for the Model S, but they might have missed a trick with the exterior.

Mihir Tasgaonkar
Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.


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