A welcome update after years on the market.

After years of shaking up the electric vehicle market, Tesla has finally announced an updated version of its Model S saloon, the car that brought the company into the mainstream. As part of its annual Q4 earnings report, Tesla revealed the heavily revised Model S is coming soon, with production starting in just a matter of weeks. Here’s everything we know.

Normally we would start by going over the exterior changes, but out of the few photos Tesla released, it’s the interior that has us doing a double take. Gone is the vertical tablet-style layout found in the current Model S and Model X, replaced by a 17.0-inch portrait display that looks near-identical to the one in the Model 3 and Model Y. The company says the resolution is vastly improved to 2200x1300 with brighter colours and improved responsiveness. Contrary to those newer Tesla cars, the refreshed Model S and X will retain their 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, at least according to the image. 

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Refresh

The future-loving company is making things a bit weird with a new chopped-off steering wheel that looks like it came from something that could fly to Mars. It’s reminiscent of the same style of steering wheel we saw on the new Roadster concept. You'll also notice a lack of stalks, which likely means that the turn signals will be operated via wheel-mounted buttons. There’s also a revised dashboard, which is much more upright and adopts the vent-less HVAC system first included on the Model 3. Larger sections of wood trim complete the new look.

A secondary interior image shows the rear seat, which features new bolstering on the left and right sides, as well as a supplemental display for passengers at the bottom of the centre console. The interior changes freshen up the car, which hasn’t seen a major update in many years. 

Looking at the exterior, the rendering shows off a car that is immediately identifiable as the Model S. The majority of the rework happened to the lower portion of the front fascia, though there are also new wheels. The entire setup looks sportier than before, with aggressive cues found throughout the design.

The Model S and X each have a new trim level, as well. The dual-motor Long Range remains the base model for both vehicles, but the upgraded Performance trim level has been replaced by the Plaid model. There’s no real difference in performance between the old Performance and new Plaid models, but for the Model S, there is a new Plaid+ coming later in the year that features the automaker’s new battery cells that are part of the vehicle’s structure. These new batteries will give the Plaid+ a world-record range of 520 miles and 0-60 time of less than 1.99 seconds. 

2021 Tesla Model S
2021 Tesla Model S

SUV fans will be happy to know that Tesla has also confirmed a refreshed version of the Model X, which will include the same exterior and interior tweaks as the Model S.

Gallery: 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Refresh