Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A “One Trick Pony”

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Test driver Kyle Conner criticized the indicators, the handling and the brakes, but the acceleration set new standards

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-plaid

A test of the Model S Plaid? That will probably come down to seeing a driver who gives full throttle, is thrown vehemently into the seat (or pretends to be) and opens his mouth and eyes in the process.

Do you feel like doing something like that? We are not.

It's good that our US colleague Kyle Conner is cut from a different cloth, he is more of a comfort-oriented, comfortable driver. But it can also be different, as it shows in this video on a mountain route. And of course he didn't skip the "launch" in his test. How could he, after all, the thing accelerates in 2.1 seconds to 100 km / h – faster than all other production cars. But the sprint only takes up a small part of the almost hour-long film. Below we summarize the most interesting insights from this.

Kyle borrowed the Model S Plaid from an influencer friend to even get hold of something like that. You have to have the right personality to have a tuner do such a wrapping that changes from brown to purple to blue, but Kyle is happy to finally drive the car.

Short tour, most important data

During a short tour you can see (for Tesla newbies) how the door handles extend and how the rear light can be made to reveal the charging opening, with a typical US Tesla connector. The battery can be charged with up to 250 kW, as emerged from our quick charge test.

The battery has a storage capacity of almost 100 kWh, As we know from a recently published video, according to Tesla, the range is 637 km according to the WLTP standard – a little less than the Dual Motor Long Range version (652 km). The tested plaid version has three electric motors with a total of 1,020 hp or the equivalent of 750 kW and costs just under 128,000 euros.

Lots of space: trunk, frunk and rear

The trunk (like the Mercedes EQS) has a large hatch, not just a trunk lid like the Model 3. It opens electrically at the push of a button, and the opening mechanism is much quieter than the Model S P100D that Kyle used to drive. While the tester shows the large storage compartment under the trunk floor and the Frunk, he praises the amount of space in the Model S. Later he will take a seat in the rear, where it becomes clear that here too his knees are a little up because of the battery below ( like in our tests of the BMW i4 and to a lesser extent with the Kia EV6).

In general, the Model S was "the first desirable electric car" on the market. When the Model S launched in 2012, it had the greatest range and the shortest charging time. In the meantime, Tesla had to surrender the crown in both disciplines: The Porsche Taycan charges with up to 270 kW and the Lucid Air should have a range of almost 800 km.

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-pony

No automatic selector lever

Smart shift function and control horn

Kyle thinks the seats are excellent, but he criticizes the fact that they don't have a massage function (as is the case with the EQS, for example). There is no automatic selector lever because, thanks to the smart shift function, the car is supposed to find out the most likely driving direction itself. It works when driving off, but not later when reversing into a supermarket parking lot: After the stop, the car has no idea where to go, and Kyle has to help out – with a downward swipe of the touchscreen, he engages reverse gear.

Maneuvering with the control horn takes some getting used to, it still works quite well at low speeds, but when maneuvering quickly, you sometimes miss it. Even stranger is the lack of the turn signal lever and the fact that you have to press the right button on the control horn to activate the left turn signal.

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-model

Unlike a conventional turn signal lever, you can hardly do this without taking your eyes off the road. Kyle's verdict a little later in the video: There is no advantage, but there are distinct disadvantages. On his old Model S he could see the display well, so he doesn't consider the missing upper part of the rudder a plus.

Otherwise, Kyle raves about the good set-up at low speeds: The car feels very "smooth" with every Tesla when you slowly feel your way forwards or backwards – much softer and quieter than with all other brands.

Chassis and noise level

On the way into the mountains, Kyle discovers two things: The chassis is very comfortable in Comfort mode. In the sport mode of the chassis and at a low chassis height, the driving experience becomes immediately harder.

At 50 mph (around 80 km / h) the interior is louder than expected – the rolling noise is lower than in the Model 3, but too loud for a sedan costing over 100,000 euros, and definitely not as quiet as in the EQS.

Sprint test, brake test and recuperation

Kyle activates Drag Strip Mode and the car begins preparing for a quick start. A time of 2 minutes is displayed for this. The car is not fully warmed up when Kyle accelerates to 60 mph from a standstill. Of course the wheels spin, and that happens even at 50 mph (80 km / h).

Already during his test of the Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic Kyle said the weaker model 450+ would be more suitable. And in his plaid video he says at the beginning that he would rather buy the Model S Long Range Dual Motor, which is still incredibly fast (with a 100 km / h sprint of 3.2 seconds). He believes that many Tesla drivers buy the top model not because they want the acceleration, but simply because it is "the better car".

As far as recuperation is concerned, Tesla can even trigger maximum energy recovery by taking off the accelerator. When you brake, only the hydraulic wheel brakes are activated. Tesla does not mix mechanical braking (using brake discs) with electromagnetic deceleration (using electric motors). There is no blending at Tesla that results in a synthetic braking feeling in so many other electric cars. The disadvantage is that the car cannot recuperate as much as a Taycan or EQS, for example, which still recuperate as much as possible even when the brakes are applied.

During a brake test, found that the ABS calibration, like all Tesla vehicles, is a little strange. And: Despite the incredible drive power, Tesla did not install a proper high-performance braking system.

On the winding mountain route, the traction control brakes the car. The ESP keeps flickering and you cannot deactivate it. But as soon as the wheels are pointing straight ahead, the acceleration is evidently really overwhelming – you can tell by the landscape rushing by. The car loves to accelerate in a straight line, but it doesn't love corners, says Kyle.

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-tesla

Conclusion: a one trick pony

This car does what its buyers probably want: you can take your friends for a ride and amaze them by going full throttle on the straight. In this discipline, the Model S Plaid is top. But not in the corners. For a driving enthusiast (a fan of fast, sporty driving), however, the car is absolutely not suitable, says Kyle.

It's an one trick pony is the appropriate English saying that is difficult to translate, can only be paraphrased: The Model S Plaid is only good at one thing, and that is the enormous acceleration straight ahead. One of the main disadvantages of Kyle is the not very good handling in the corner, the rather high volume inside and the inadequate brakes. But overall, the car is desirable, says Kyle, and you get a lot of car for your money.

The competition in the test: Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-model Lucid Air: First short test drive with a fast luxury limousine

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-tesla Video: Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo in the test

Image gallery: Tesla Model S Plaid Delivery Day (June 2021)

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-pony

Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-test Tesla Model S Plaid in the Test: A "One Trick Pony"-tesla

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