HomeGuideTesla Model S Plaid Hands-On Review: A Beast from the Future

Tesla Model S Plaid Hands-On Review: A Beast from the Future

Tesla began Model S Plaid deliveries last week, and as expected, we have started getting reviews. Of course, a number of these reviews on YouTube are useful, but one particular video caught our eye. Tesla Raj is a Tesla owner, and he managed to get into contact with a Plaid owner. He has uploaded a full hands-on review, which we will be discussing here.

Tesla Model S Plaid Review

Tesla Model S Plaid Hands-On Review

User Interface for Central Touchscreen

We already know that Tesla decided to do away with the portrait mode touchscreen from the earlier Model S version and replace it with a horizontal one. But that isn’t the only thing that they have changed. The software team has updated the entire user interface, and combined with the larger touchscreen, it makes for a much better experience.

One of the biggest things doing the rounds was the yoke steering, which we will get to in a couple of minutes. But the consequence of the yolk design is the removal of stalks from the steering. This meant that Tesla had to put the drive modes on the touchscreen. You slide it up for drive mode and down for reverse. You can put it in park mode by clicking on a separate button.

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Tesla Model S Plaid Display

The music control tab can be docked on either the left or right side of the screen. This enables both the driver and passenger to use it easily. The rear camera, while backing up the car, can get enlarged over the entire screen to improve visibility.

The menu is also customizable, as you can keep your favorite settings hovering on the bottom strip. Currently, there is a new game called Sky Force. You can play it using controllers. There is no sight of Cyberpunk and Witcher yet. There is a chance that Tesla may delay them. The Cyberpunk game shown during the delivery event was simply for demonstration.

Finally, there are different modes for the handling of the vehicle. This includes throttle response, braking, steering feel, and suspension settings as well.

Heat Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC)

Of course, we know there is a biohazard mode, which helps to filter out most of the harmful particles in the air and provide cleaner air. The ventilated seats are a big plus as well. There is an option to either cool or heat up your seats. And there is a separate setting for each seat, so every person can get their own comfort level.

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Tesla Model S Plaid Rear Display

In the rear, the vents for climate control are located just above and below the rear touchscreen. And they are powerful too. Furthermore, you can set the temperature at different levels for the front and rear passengers. So the person in the front could be boiling, while the person in the back could be freezing their behinds off.

Yoke Steering Wheel

This is one of the major points of discussion. There have been mixed feelings about this futuristic yoke design for the steering wheel. So, we all know that there are no stalks on the wheel. The drive modes have been taken care of on the touchscreen. But there are other things that require stalks as well, or at least, required stalks.

Model S Plaid Yoke Steering Wheel

The right side of the yoke has buttons for the horn, speed control, and windshield wipers. On the left, we have the high beam indication and the turn signal indicators. Make no mistake, these aren’t push buttons. They are capacitative buttons, so you just have to touch them.

As for the turning, you need to turn the yoke for one and a half turn for complete rotation of the wheels. This can be easily done using your palm, or you can use both hands as in a normal steering wheel, without sliding them along the circumference. The yolk also allows for much better visibility of the center display behind the wheel, and also of the exterior.

Interior Design

There are several things that Tesla has changed for the interiors of the Plaid version. For instance, there is a touch button to open the doors from inside. Yes, a touch button, not a push-button. There is wireless mobile charging in the center console between the front seats. There are also two USB C ports down there. Of course, there is extra storage space inside the console, and it is quite large.

Tesla Model S Refresh 2021

The entire dashboard has a carbon fiber finish and that really amps up the looks. The dashboard extends from the center display behind the steering wheel to the passenger end, and it looks very much like a screen. Maybe Tesla may bring some new features in future software updates (like the Hyperscreen in Mercedes EQS). The climate vents are located just above and below the dashboard.

Moving to the rear, the placement of the rear screen is not entirely great. Constant use may cause neck pain due to the low placement. This screen contains four main options at the moment. You can control the music from the rear. There is climate control, along with a very powerful vent, which is almost invisible. You can set your seat heaters to the perfect temperature from the rear screen too. And of course, there are streaming services.

You can connect multiple Bluetooth devices to the system. So, a number of passengers can do various things in there. There were talks of the screen being tiltable, but that hasn’t been perfected yet. And finally, there are noise cancellation setups built inside the seats.

The Driving Experience

Of course, we know how crazy the Plaid acceleration is. For a passenger vehicle that seats five people, 1.99 seconds is beyond crazy. However, many people are concerned about driving with the yoke. The video makes it look like once you get used to it, it gets really easy. A tip for potential customers who like one-hand driving – put your vehicle into the “comfort” steering mode. In the “sport” mode, the wheel becomes very heavy, so it can be difficult to control.

The auto shifting after parking is one very good feature. So, let’s say you drive headfirst into a parking spot, leave to do your chores, and get back. You press the brake to start up your vehicle, and voila – it is already in reverse. The system senses that there is some obstacle in the front and not the back, and accordingly decides the mode for you. The same is the case for backing up into a parking spot – the vehicle is in drive mode, prompting you to drive forward. And the working of this system is quite dynamic. Raj tried out a few tests, where they parked the vehicle in the middle of the parking lot with no obstacles on either side.  The moment someone stood in front of the vehicle, the vehicle prompted the system to get into reverse mode. So that’s quite cool.

You can watch the entire video here:

Our Opinion

Tesla has done an amazing job with the powertrain for Plaid. They also have worked hard to ensure a better overall experience for the customers. The yoke steering wheel seems easy to drive with if you get used to it quickly. The placement of the drive modes on the touchscreen seems a bit weird, to be honest. And the entire cabin is filled with touch buttons instead of push buttons. Personally, I find that not-so-great, but if you’re a fan, you’ll love it. Overall, the entire system seems very well developed, and with software updates rolling in, any minor bugs may get fixed too.

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

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