For many weeks now, there has been speculation that Tesla will present a refresh of its Models S and X, which are already getting a bit outdated. After it was initially assumed that the presentation would take place on Tesla Battery Day, which then did not happen, the rumours were initially somewhat quieted.
At the end of January 2021, these speculations became more solid, and the rumour emerged that the time would come at the Tesla Q4 2020 earnings call on the evening of January 27th. This was also supported by the fact that Tesla completely stopped production of the Model S and Model X for 18 days at the end of 2020.
And indeed, a few hours before the earnings call, the first pictures of the refreshed Model S and the refreshed Model X were already available in the Tesla configurator, which we do not want to withhold from you:
It seemed clear to many that the design would be based on Model 3 and Model Y. The new design of the centre console is very reminiscent of the two mid-range models of the US electric vehicle manufacturer. The horizontal display centrally located between the driver and passenger now also conveys a more modern appearance and even measures a full 17 inches diagonally in the luxury-class models. In contrast to the Model 3 and Model Y, however, the driver still has a 12.3-inch diagonal display behind the steering wheel that shows driving-relevant data such as speed.
We will take a closer look at the steering wheel below. Before that, we will take a look at the rear seat of the Refresh Model S:
Rear-seated passengers now also get their own display, which at 8 inches diagonal is by no means too small. Via this display, rear-seat passengers will be able to set their own desired temperature, control media and even start games.
Now let’s take a look at the new steering wheel: The first thing you notice is that it looks like a steering wheel from a Formula 1 racing car. The “quarter to three” position of the hands on the steering wheel learned in driving school is probably not possible with this design; it would be more like a “twenty to four” position.
But not only will the way the driver holds the steering wheel change, the operation of some functions will also change fundamentally. The first thing that catches the eye are the scroll wheels already familiar from the Model 3 and Model Y, which look much more modern than the previous controls of the Model S and Model X. These scroll wheels will probably be used to control the steering wheel. Similar to the mid-range models, these scroll wheels are probably used to operate the multimedia system, to skip to the next song or to turn the music up or down, and to regulate the speed of the cruise control.
If you have already taken a closer look at the steering wheel, you will have noticed that behind the new steering wheel there are no control levers at all, which were previously used to adjust the gear, operate the indicator or the high beam. A close-up of the steering wheel reveals additional controls around the two scroll wheels. The control surface for the left indicator is clearly visible on the left below the left scroll wheel. Whether this type of operation can be used in practice remains to be seen when the first refreshed Model S and Model X are in the hands of customers. In any case, Tesla shows once again that many controls will no longer be necessary in the future of automated driving.
At the same time, however, it is still not certain whether this steering wheel shape will actually be used in the vehicles for the European region or whether the more traditional shape will be used again.
While the biggest changes have been made on the inside, the models S and X have also been slightly redesigned on the outside and, in addition to the chrome delete already familiar from the Model 3, will also each receive two new rim designs:
Other highlights of the Refresh Tesla Model S and Model X include:
-) Premium audio system with no less than 22 speakers. The active noise cancellation has been specially tuned for the ultra-quiet interior of a Tesla.
-) Music and media can now be played across multiple devices via Bluetooth.
-) The huge 17-inch display can be tilted to give the driver the optimum viewing angle of the screen at all times.
-) For the first time in a Tesla, there is a heated steering wheel and, in addition to heated seats on all seats, there is also air conditioning in the front seats.
-) About 840km (522mi) range with the new Tesla Model S Plaid +
In the Q&A that followed, Elon Musk also answered a question about FSD (Full Self Driving):
Elon Musk answered the question of whether we will be able to transfer the Autopilot to another or a new car from Tesla in the future. And the answer will not please many, because it is unfortunately no. Nevertheless, Elon Musk emphasises that Tesla’s FSD is widely underestimated in the industry and that Tesla will also offer FSD as a subscription in the future.