Running changes to the Tesla Model S this year fall under the heading constant improvement. This week Tesla updated the Model S. It removed the dark front grille shape in favor of a body-color element and increased the range by 24 and 17 miles. Steerable LED headlamps become standard and the onboard charger capacity is hiked from 40 amps to 48 amps.According to Tesla, the changes are in effect as of this week’s production. Buyers with cars on order should check to verify which car they’ll be getting, 2016 or 2017. Most likely it will be the newer car. Following Tesla’s splashy announcement of the Tesla Model 3 on March 31, the 2017 Model S news came more quietly in form of updates to the Tesla website.
Almost 300 miles of range
Most useful to Tesla owners is increased range. The Model S page, now updated, shows the Model S 90D jumps from 270 to 294 miles, or 9%. The range of the more-performance-oriented Model S P90D increases from 253 miles to 270 miles, or 7%. The standard onboard charger is now rated at 48 amps, up from 40 amps. That could provide for shorter recharging times if the power supplied to the transformer can provide that much power. There is also an optional ($1,500) 72-amp onboard charger that charges 50% faster, but only when used with a Tesla wall connector on a 100-amp circuit breaker.
Tesla did not announce a 100-kWh battery, which would likely have pushed range well over 300 miles. That was the hottest rumor about likely Model S that didn’t come to pass. The most powerful battery remains 90 kWh. It’s not clear if the redesigned front end reduced the drag coefficient, which could improve highway economy. Tesla made a big thing about the drag coefficient of the Model 3 with hopes that it could fall as low as 0.21; the Model S has been at 0.24, still excellent for a production passenger car.
LED headlamps, new color choices
The Tesla Model S now has adaptive (steerable) headlamps. Each unit comprises 14 LED elements. The Model S
gains the HEPA air filter shipping on the Model X that, Tesla says, filters at least 99.7% of “particulate exhaust pollution and effectively all allergens, bacteria and other contaminants.” If that’s not enough, there’s biohazard protection: “The bioweapon defense mode creates positive pressure inside the cabin to protect occupants.”
Two new interior trim choices are listed: Figured Ash Wood and Dark Ash Wood.
That flat surface look makes a bold statement, immediately identifying that these are pure EVs and don’t require air to be sucked in to cool of an internal combustion engine. Interior updates include new heated and ventilated front seats and even a medical-grade HEPA air filter. Rounding out the interior updates are a new Premium Upgrade package with Nappa leather upholstery, Alcantara headliner, and LED ambient lighting. The Subzero Weather Package comes with heated rear seats and steering wheel, and even heated washer nozzles.
Four different powertrain options are available:
1. The Tesla Model S 70 has 315 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, with a 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph.
2. The Model S 70D adds that dual motor and AWD, for a total of 328 hp and 387 lb-ft. Zero to 60 mph happens in 5.2 seconds. Range is also increased from 230 to 240 miles on a single charge.
3. The Model 90D has a total of 417 hp and 485 lb-ft, and a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. Range in this case happens to be 294 miles.
4. And then there’s the top-end P90D with its 463 hp and 713 lb-ft, and 3.1-second 0-60 time. Opt for Ludicrous Mode and output reaches 532 hp and a 2.8-second 0-60 time. Sales will begin shortly with pricing beginning at $71,500. The all-wheel-drive P90D Performance with all options chosen, including the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade, carbon fiber spoiler, air suspension, Autopilot, premium audio, and rear facing seats.
No, that doesn’t mean there’s a new V8 option.
The Tesla Model S has a new front end that invokes the design of what’s found on the Model X and the also just revealed Model 3. The grille is now more slender and accompanied by new LED headlights. Some may think it looks a bit weird but we say it’s exactly what the Model S needed all along.