Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road

Deliveries of the new Tesla Model S Plaid have finally commenced, reaching a milestone that the Plaid+ flagship, the one that was cancelled last week, will never manage. Despite this, company CEO Elon Musk has now finally confirmed details for the new range-topper before handing first examples to customers. The model is now one of just two Model S variants, sitting above the entry-level Long Range with a substantial boost in performance. First UK deliveries are scheduled for the end of 2022 and the base price has now risen to £118,980 following the cancellation of Plaid+.

Peak power is rated at 1006bhp, delivered by a trio of new carbon-sleeved motors. Though they produce less in this application, Tesla engineers say each motor is capable of delivering around 400bhp when battery technology allows for it. It’s claimed 0-60mph sprint is currently pegged at 1.99sec (with a 1ft rollout), completing the quarter-mile in 9.23sec at 155mph and reaching a top speed of 200mph. While it’s hardly lightweight at 2162kg, this figure does make it around 200kg lighter than Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S.

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Despite the intense performance, Tesla claims it will still cover around 390 miles on a single charge. Charging speeds have also been improved with the Plaid able to utilise all 250kW of the firm’s new V3 Supercharger stations, a 25kW improvement over the latest Model S and X models.

The Plaid features torque vectoring which might go some way to counter its hefty kerb weight, with adaptive air suspension also standard. Although not confirmed, the configurator appears to reveal the use of larger brakes too, which would be a minimum upgrade given the four-figure power output. Also new is an upgraded heat pump for better cold weather performance and a radiator twice the size of its predecessor. The latter is said to allow for back-to-back launches and spirited driving without performance degradation – something Porsche ensured was covered in its electric flagship. Musk has also hinted that Tesla would return to the Nürburgring for a second time, presumably to target the four door saloon production car record.

Also announced as part of the 2021 facelift, the Plaid will also come with a new interior, swapping its predecessor’s portrait display for a 17-inch landscape unit. Unlike in the Model 3, the driver is also treated to a new 12.3-inch display behind the steering wheel, with an 8-inch unit making an appearance in the back for rear seat entertainment. Both the new yoke-style steering wheel and lack of improved seat bolstering are questionable, but the Plaid does appear to feature seat perforations for improved grip. The wood trim of the Long Range is also swapped for carbon fibre.

Exterior design on the Plaid is identical to the Long Range, with only minor tweaks made to the front and rear bumpers for improved cooling – the only way to tell a Plaid apart from the Long Range is its red brake calipers and Plaid badging. 19-inch aero-centric wheels come as standard, however 21-inch 'Arachnid' items can be fitted at a £4400 premium. Drag coefficient has been improved over the outgoing model, with an impressive 0.208 figure outdoing even Porsche’s slippery Taycan.

Stacked up against its arch-rival, the Porsche Taycan, it seems a good value offering on paper. The range-topping Taycan Turbo S comes at a £19,850 premium over the Model S Plaid, but is quite some way down on claimed straight-line performance and range. The Tesla is said to reach 60mph six tenths sooner than the Porsche and boasts a top speed 38mph higher. Range is also on the Plaid’s side, with Tesla claiming it will travel around 100 miles further on a single charge.

The Tesla Model S Plaid will start from £118,980 in the UK, an £8000 increase over the price announced last September thanks to the cancellation of the more expensive Plaid+. First UK deliveries are set to begin at the end of 2022, giving them plenty of time to iron out the bugs and prove in the real world its claimed performance. For now, the first 25 US cars have already hit the road, ramping up production over the next few months targeting 1000 cars per week by Q3 2022.

> ‘2020’ Tesla Roadster delayed by Covid-19

Tesla Model S Plaid specs

Engine

Triple motor, all-wheel drive

Power

1006bhp

Weight

2162kg

Power-to-weight

465bhp/ton

0-60mph (with 1ft rollout)

1.99sec

Top speed

200mph

Range (WLTP)

390 miles

Price

£118,980

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