Range Increases, Styling Updates & a Weird Steering Wheel

Well lah-dee-dah, the refresh of Tesla’s Model S is here. I’d like to sound more impressed, but Elon has been going on for so long about what’s going to be in the “new” car that it’s hard for me to be jumping up and down, all enthusiastic about this. So, now that the real car is finally here, what do you get? Let’s get down to the facts, shall we?

Car Guys vs. Tech Guys

The problem with Elon Musk is that he’s a tech guy and not a car guy. And tech guys, and their companies, have a bad habit of announcing the revolution, telling you what it will contain, and telling you the date said revolution will come. THEN they alter the contents, change the dates around, monkey with the contents even more, announce a delay to the revolution, and change a few more details before announcing yet another delay. 

By the time the product – whether it’s a game or a word processor or, in this case, a car – hits the streets, it’s difficult to keep up that enthusiasm, let alone keep your facts straight. That said, here is what you can find on the refreshed Tesla Model S.

The “Refreshed” Tesla Model S

The top-of-the-line sedan from the EV revolution’s corporate standard-bearers is, to put it mildly, fantastic. Really, apart from the high-tech gizmos synonymous with Tesla, it’s hard to tell the Model S apart from any other luxury sedan out there. And believe me, that is a very Good Thing. The Model S works. It works in the same way a Porsche, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz does for the discerning buyer. And for an EV to simply work is still an achievement to many people.

The “refresh” (sometimes called mid-cycle refresh) is typical for automotive manufacturers, and Tesla follows this tradition. There’s a nip here and a tuck there on the exterior. Tesla is finally dealing with some design issues that should have been taken care of shortly after the Model S rolled out in 2012. They’ve tightened the back end and have a more integrated diffusor, but the real work has been done at the front. Gone is that blunt, slab-like “grille” that just didn’t look good. Now the nose features a much more attractive bumper and grille.

As important as that is, that’s just the side dish, the potatoes, if you will, to the real meat. It’s a lot of what you can’t see that will make a much more significant impact. For a start, there’s an uprated powertrain that can now get you 520 miles on a single charge. Those updates will also get the Model S from a standstill to 60 mph in under two seconds. Tesla says the updated powertrain makes it the “fastest accelerating production car ever.”

That might be true, but I bet some engineering guys in Germany and Japan and Italy may have their own take on that statement.

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