The Tesla Model S, produced since 2012, has been steadily improved over time. To the point that you are always one step ahead and equipped with the Plaid version with power and torque previously unknown in a large family sedan and rather reserved for cars in the style of the Bugatti Veyron.
Over 1,000 hp
Maxime Fontanier had already tried the Tesla Model S Plaid at the beginning of the year. It was an American version though. Today, it is the one available in France that he invites us to discover. Its dimensions remain impressive when driving through narrow streets or parking in an underground car park. At a height of 1.43m, it stretches over 5.02m and expands to 1.99m excluding mirrors.
With its 3 permanent magnet synchronous motors – 1 in the front and 2 in the back – the Plaid version is the fastest of the Tesla Model S. They “ is encased in carbon to be able to reach rotational speeds of up to 20,000 rpm, developing 1,034 hp/760 kW for 1,400 Nm of torque. There is nothing equivalent today on the mass-produced car market. “.
To power this motor, a battery of the nickel-aluminum-cobalt type developed by Panasonic and with an energy capacity of 95 kWh.
5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test
Over the years, the body of the Tesla Model S has undergone many changes here and there. For the plaid, the shield has been modified to support its monstrous performance. Specific optical blocks for Europe have been adopted front and rear.
In terms of passive safety, among the additions we find a central airbag between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat to his right, as well as an active bonnet. The family car is congratulated for a 5-star Euro NCAP crash test, already achieved in 2014.
The example we have at our disposal comes in a red metallic dress (+ 2,200 euros) and sits on 21-inch Arachnid alloy wheels (+ 4,900 euros) fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires. Rear: 295/30 versus 265/35. Which required the fenders to get a little chubby. As standard, the new generation benefits from a heat pump and a 12 V lithium-ion accessory battery.
Lots of space for luggage
The electric tailgate can optionally be inserted with his smartphone. The luggage compartment of 798 liters is only accessible before it is achieved by folding the backrest in 2 parts of the bench, 1,828 l on a flat floor. The generous double bottom can hold much more than the charging cables. These can also be placed in the 89 l compartment under the bonnet.
This voluminous endowment can be supplemented by towing a trailer up to 1,600 kg.
Have you noticed the light padding? This is an option for 2,400 euros, with which it is possible to prefer beige at the same price, or to be satisfied with the standard black. In any case, the interior is embellished with carbon fiber areas.
3 real seats in the back
In the back of the Tesla Model S, three passengers have rarely been treated so well. The width and legroom are particularly generous. The glass roof provides a beautiful light on board and also gives a better impression at head height.
Although it contains an armrest with 2 cup holders, 2 induction chargers for smartphones and a nice storage compartment, the central seat is fully usable. Not only does it, like the other 2, offer good lateral support, but it is also heated. Which is particularly rare.
More plush, the new bench seat reclines more for comfort. Particularly well integrated, the 9.4-inch touchscreen allows you to make many settings. Thus to intervene on the temperature and air currents. This tablet is also used to watch movies and surf YouTube.
Soon, controllers will bring new opportunities to escape in video games during the ride. ” The builder is even working on front/rear sound separation so kids can have fun playing games while parents listen to music. “. Note the presence of thermal windows on the sides also on the back.
Flying Yoke Destabilizer
Going forward, we immediately notice the Yoke steering wheel ” aircraft type » specific to the Plaid and which will not facilitate maneuvers with a turning circle of 12.3 m as an aggravating factor, nor take roundabouts. If we were to find an interest in it, it would be to clear the view of the instrumentation display when well placed.
The indicators are activated from the left branch. The one on the right allows you to control the wipers, the horn and the very effective voice recognition. Installed in landscape mode, the large 17-inch screen can be electrically oriented towards the driver or the passenger sitting next to him.
Under this shelf there are 2 induction chargers, and 2 large storage compartments, one of which supports 2 pull-out cup holders to free access to 2 USB-C plugs and a 12 V. Which does not deprive a glove compartment to be opened by fiddling with the central screen . ” The finish is very very good, but the build quality is sometimes questionable. The materials themselves are impeccable, with very little visible plastic “.
Suspicion of doping in the Ryzen microprocessor
Thanks to the Ryzen microprocessor found on the PS5 consoles, we rediscover a very fluid multimedia system. The ultra-fast resizing of navigation maps is simply amazing on the big screen: ” No one is better off today “.
It is also used to adjust everything on the Tesla Model S Plaid. Thus, the ventilation and, in a very fine way, the orientation of the air currents, the start of the antibacterial protection, the steering, the pneumatic suspensions, the clearance between 11 and 15 cm, the driving aids, the conditioning of the vehicle to perform astronomical thrusts, the trip planner, etc.
With very high resolution, the cameras also reveal their secrets on the tablet, and the Arcade games come to life with precision. Lots of driving stats are also available with it. And it is again this screen that acts as the drive selector.
Better than a Bugatti Veyron?
Three heights are offered with the air suspensions. We advise you to choose the highest one in the city, to calmly approach the speed bumps that appear all over France. The yoke steering wheel shows its limits from the first roundabout. Maxime Fontanier sees a solution: ” A variable reduction system to make steering more direct “.
Tesla Model S knows how to put its performance to sleep to be performed in the city ” very smooth and easy to drive “. But she will react rudely to any hard pressure on the accelerator: The proportions are good, the commands are always very precise with Tesla, be it the steering wheel, the brake pedal and the accelerator. We feel it is managed perfectly “. On the one hand 1,034 hp for 1,400 Nm of torque, on the other hand 1,001 to 1,200 hp for 1,250 to 1,500 Nm: Tesla Model S Plaid absolutely does not fear comparison with the Bugatti Veyron.
And yet the American is perfectly serviceable on a daily basis: ” You can take your kids and the dog on vacation when all the cars that until now offered such stratospheric performance were rendered useless on a daily basis by being low to the ground, with no trunk and configured as a 2-seater “.
10 years and still not caught up
The Tesla Model S has already been in production for 10 years. The batteries, the motors, the interior presentation have evolved. ” It is still ahead of this car, 10 years after its launch, just with updates, certainly sometimes important ones “. Pressing hard on the accelerator, even without selecting Dragster mode, is an ordeal that interrupts any conversation.
The machine literally clings to the road thanks to a very low center of gravity, which makes you forget about its 2,162 kg. In comparison, the Mercedes EQS AMG with its 658 hp weighs much more (2,655 kg): “ There is a big difference between similar batteries “.
Shaking it up a bit reveals the Tesla Model S Plaid at its best: a well-balanced chassis, no untimely bodywork, suspension that filters well, impressive lateral grip. Which explains his performance at the Nürburgring.
Space Mountain for families
” When we apply a sudden deceleration with a big acceleration behind it, we have the impression of being in a fighter plane “. Is it too much? At least that’s what Maxime Fontanier expresses in the video, but also the message on the dashboard indicating the overheating of 4-piston brakes.
These will be perfect for everyday use, but for chaining laps on the circuit you’ll be better off using the sports brake option when available in France, at $20,000 in the US. It contains, among other things, 6-piston calipers and suitable brake fluid.
With the Dragster mode, 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 2.1 seconds, excluding the starting phase over 30 cm. The Mercedes EQS AMG will struggle to keep up with this 3.8 second exercise. The American is limited to a speed of 282 km/h. It is possible to increase it to 322 km/h by paying for a hardware upgrade.
350 km on the motorway
On the highway, the Tesla Model S Plaid wants to be quieter than it is. For this, it embeds an active noise reduction system. Sensors in the wheel arches make it possible to generate sounds that oppose them rolling.
During his muscle test, Maxime Fontanier noted a consumption of 23.9 kWh/100 km. By driving lightly, however, it can drop to around 17-18 kWh/100 km. In this case, the actual range will be between 525 and 560 km: ” What will be the consumption of a 200 hp electric car when we have 1,034. This is the gap between Tesla’s variable reluctance motors and the classic synchronous motors that we find elsewhere “.
On the highway, even when driving at 130 km/h, the 350 km can be reached, and more than 400 km by settling for 110-120 km/h and using the cruise control.
What price for the best car in the world?
For Maxime Fontanier, the Tesla Model S is ” the best car in the world “. But not necessarily in this Plaid version: ” The Long Autonomy version is much better suited and offers a much better price/performance ratio. It will work almost as well. It’s just that it won’t have the Track and Dragster modes that we don’t use every day. The Grande Autonomie is arguably the best sedan in the world today “.
On the DC terminals, the charging power on paper is 250 kW. Regenerating the battery up to 80% takes about thirty minutes on a supercharger. In alternating current, on the other hand, it will be necessary to settle for 16.5 kW. It is a bit light compared to the 22 kW that can be had as an option on this other elite car, the Mercedes EQS AMG.
But at 169,850 against 138,990 euros, it is much more expensive than the American one. With options, the copy we tried rises to more than 152,000 euros. Tesla Model S Plaid “offers much better price/equipment and price/performance ratio in its class”. No need to choose the improved autonomous driving for 3,800 euros, whose functionality is somewhat reduced for Europe. The active cruise control as standard is more than enough.
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