Is the Tesla Model S infotainment screen any good? - evo Connectivity

Is the huge infotainment screen in Tesla's Model S distracting? We find out

‘Isn’t it distracting?’ That’s the question most people ask of the 17-inch touchscreen that occupies a vast swathe of real estate on the dashboard of the Tesla Model S P85D.

View the screen in photographs, where inevitably the brightness has been maximised for illustrative effect, and people imagine the output is akin to a console-mounted searchlight. Offputting during the day, positively blinding at night.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

The reality is rather obvious. Not only can the screen be dimmed during the daytime, but it automatically dims as ambient light fades. It’s always on, so to an extent there’ll always be a glow in your periphery, but it’s no more a bugbear than the screens in most equivalent luxury vehicles.

And its myriad functions are more than welcome in nose-to-tail Birmingham traffic, which is the setting for our first brief UK drive of the new dual-motor Tesla. As an escape from the tedium of crawling queues the screen is quite appealing, and a permanent 3G internet connection means entertainment is just a few prods of the screen away.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The benefits of a full 17 inches of navigation screen can’t be understated either. Picking routes on the fly couldn’t be easier, and a recent software update allows you to choose a location by simply touching the screen, which is easier, quicker and safer than dedicating attention to entering postcodes. You can do that too if necessary, though, with a full touchscreen keyboard.

Operating the car’s heating controls is equally simple – they are permanently positioned at the bottom of the screen, so finding them isn’t difficult and one can anchor one’s thumb along the bottom of the screen to avoid the normal touchscreen pitfall of a misplaced prod.

Perhaps most intriguing is that extra functions can appear overnight. Tesla owners are already used to turning on the car in the morning to find a software update has been installed. The most recent update added automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning (the hardware was already in the car) and an improved trip planner that routes via Supercharger fast-charge stations.

There’s also a Valet Mode, which limits speed and acceleration, hides personal addresses in the satnav and locks the glovebox and bonnet.

Yet buried within the menus, there’s one small slider that will make you forget about every other function. That slider chooses between ‘Sport’ and ‘Insane’ modes. Choose the latter and the P85D’s full 691bhp output is unleashed along with a McLaren F1-beating 3.1-second 0-60mph time – or 2.8 seconds for those customers choosing the Ludicrous Mode upgrade. Now that’s distracting.

You can read our full Tesla Model S review here.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/tesla/model-s/202572/the-one-off-tesla-model-s-shooting-brake-is-already-for-sale
Tesla Model S

The one-off Tesla Model S Shooting Brake is already for sale 

4 May 2020
Visit/technology/202558/what-is-a-hybrid-hybrid-tech-and-how-its-used-in-performance-cars
Technology

What is a hybrid? Hybrid tech and how it’s used in performance cars

1 May 2020
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/best-cars/15095/best-cars-to-buy-for-ps10000-evo-garage
Best cars

Best cars to buy for £10,000 – evo garage

The evo team picks their favourite used performance cars
1 Jul 2020
Visit/mercedes/cla/202850/mercedes-amg-cla-45-s-shooting-brake-review
Mercedes CLA45 AMG hatchback

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S Shooting Brake review

Good looks and stonking performance, if you can stomach the price tag
4 Jul 2020
Visit/skoda/202145/full-2020-skoda-octavia-vrs-engine-range-detailed
Skoda Octavia vRS

Full 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS engine range detailed

Skoda’s engine range for the Octavia vRS topped by a 242bhp turbo petrol
3 Jul 2020
Visit/dodge/challenger/202845/2021-dodge-challenger-srt-super-stock-revealed
Dodge Challenger

2021 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock revealed

The ancient Dodge Challenger lives on in new 807bhp widebody form – makes a Shelby GT500 look like a pedal car
3 Jul 2020