The new Tesla Model S looks set to become Australia’s quickest car.
Heavily updated for 2021, Tesla’s game-changing electric sedan brings fresh looks inside and out, along with heavily reworked drivelines that make it shockingly fast.
The manufacturer claims the range-topping Tesla Model S Plaid+ has more than 1100 horsepower, or 820kW of grunt.
That puts it well beyond the 735kW figure of the most powerful car currently offered in Australia, Ferrari’s hybrid-powered SF90 Stradale, near-doubling the 400kW-plus claims of supercharged Australian muscle cars once offered by Ford and Holden.
It’s enough to propel the two-tonne sedan to 100km/h in less than 2.1 seconds, crossing drag strip 400 metre markers in less than nine seconds.
No car on sale can match those figures.
As a result, Tesla claims the car offers the “quickest 0-100 km/h and quarter mile acceleration of any production car ever”.
A top speed of 320km/h makes it one of the fastest sedans on sale, and a claimed range of more than 840 kilometres is truly extraordinary.
The upcoming Tesla Roadster promises to be even faster, though it remains out of reach to customers for now.
Full technical details for the model, including its battery size, are not available yet.
Key changes to the model include an upgrade to three electric motors with torque vectoring, plus upgraded brakes and fat Michelin performance tyres.
It also has a revised cabin with a yoke-like steering wheel similar to light aircraft. The flat-bottomed wheel has no top section, allowing customers a clearer view of its digital dashboard.
The intriguing control interface is no doubt intended to encourage customers to use Tesla’s “Autopilot” driver assistance suite that can help steer the car on motorways and busy roads.
A new 17-inch centre display is linked to a powerful gaming computer with wireless controller connectivity, encouraging owners to connect a PlayStation-style game pad and make the most of downtime in the car.
Tesla pitches the top Model S at about $239,000 drive-away, with “full self-driving capability” adding about $15,000 to the bill.
That’s not cheap, but it does represent around one-fifth the real-world cost of Ferrari’s SF90, and undercuts the next most-potent sedan, BMW’s 467kW M5 CS, by about $67,000.
Tesla says the Model S Plaid+ will reach Australia in 2022.
Customers who want to spend less can choose a simpler “Long Range” model with 663 kilometres of range and a 3.2 second dash to 100km/h for about $155,000, or a mid-grade “Plaid” version combining a 760kW powertrain with 628 of range and 2.1 second acceleration for about $216,000.
Those drivelines and interior upgrades are also available in the high-riding Model X SUV, though Tesla’s biggest car misses out on the most powerful motors.