Electric Cars
​The new 2021 Model S and Model X by Tesla

Here's how the new 2021 Tesla Model S and X compare to their predecessors

New cars look familiar on the outside but are all-new under the skin

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Tesla has revealed new versions of its Model S electric sedan and Model X SUV. Both cars look familiar on the outside, but have new interiors and increased performance.

The biggest talking point of both new cars is the interior, which features a yoke-style steering wheel and has no conventional stalks for the wipers and turn signals. The gear selector has also been removed, with all controls replaced by touch-sensitive buttons on the wheel itself. A wheel of this shape was first shown off by Tesla on the prototype of its upcoming Roadster.

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On the cars having no stalks or gear selector on the steering column, Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted: "No more stalks. Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context & nav map. You can override on touchscreen."

On closer inspection, the two scroll wheels of the steering wheel are surrounded by what appear to be touch-sensitive buttons for the turn signals, high beam, horn, screen wash and voice control. The Porsche Taycan has similar touch controls, in that case with haptic feedback, around its instrument cluster. Turn signals appear on the steering wheel of some other cars too, mostly notably from Ferrari, but in that case they are physical buttons that can be located and operated by feel. We will be interested to see how Tesla's touch system works in the real world.

Another major change to the interiors of both the Model S and X is the touchscreen display. This has changed from portrait to landscape orientation, copying that of the Model 3 and Model Y. The new screen measures 17 inches and has a resolution of 2200 x 1300.

Tesla Model S 2021 interiorNew interior features a yoke-like steering wheel and 170inch displayTesla

Both cars have also gained a second display, situated between the front seats and for the use of rear passengers. This screen measures eight inches and can be used to view video content and play games by connecting a wireless controller to the Tesla Arcade system. It also gives rear passengers control of some of the car's systems.

Tesla says its new gaming computer has up to 10 teraflops of processing power. To provide some context, this is almost on par with the 10.28 teraflops of the PlayStation 5 and the 12 teraflops of the Xbox Series X. Musk tweeted to say the new cars can play the CyberPunk 2077 video game, and added that the system has more storage than the 32GB of previous Teslas, and it is "easily upgradable".

Also new is the sound system, which now has 22 speakers and 960 watts of power. New microphones enable active noise cancelling, where the monotonous drone of wind and tire noise is dialed down in the same way headphones create artificial silence in an airplane cabin.

Although there aren't many photos of the new interior just yet, Tesla's website says the new cars offer wireless and USB-C fast charging for every passenger. The updated interiors also benefit from a full-length tinted glass roof, triple-zone air conditioning, heated seats for every passenger and ventilated seats in the front, a HEPA air filtration system and ambient lighting.

Interior of 2021 Tesla Model SNew 2021 vehicles have a second display for rear passengersTesla

Performance and range

As well as giving the Model S and Model X an all-new interior, Tesla has increased the performance and range of its cars. Here is a quick breakdown of what's new:

2021 Tesla Model S performance and range

The entry-level Model S is now called the Long Range and has a cash price before incentives of $78,490. It has an estimated range of 412 miles, a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 3.1 seconds. These stats compare to the previous entry-level Model S, which was called the Long Range Plus. This car was priced from $69,420 and had a range of 402 miles, a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 3.7 seconds.

Next up for the 2021 Model S is called Plaid. This features Tesla's new triple-motor drivetrain and is priced from $118,490 before incentives. It has an estimated range of 390 miles, a top speed of 200mph and a 0-60mph time of 1.99 seconds, making it the quickest production car on sale today. Tesla also says it has 1,020 horsepower and features torque vectoring, which shifts power between the axles depending on which has the most grip at any moment.

These statistics compare favorable to the 2020 Model S Performance, which was priced from $91,990 and had a range of 387 miles, a top speed of 163mph and a 0-60mph time of 2.3 seconds.

Finally, the 2021 Tesla flagship is called the Plaid+. This is priced from $138,490 and has an estimated range of over 520 miles, a 200mph top speed and a 0-60mph time claimed to be under 1.99 seconds. Tesla also says it has the quickest quarter-mile time of any production car, at under nine seconds.

2021 Tesla Model X performance and range

Now for the Model X, which shares the same chassis as the Model S, but features a taller body and more spacious interior with the option of five, six or seven seats.

For 2021, the updated Model X starts with the Long Range. This is priced from $88,490 and has an estimated range of 360 miles, a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 3.8 seconds. This compares to the previous Model X Long Range Plus, which was priced from $79,990 and had a range of 371 miles, a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds.

Next up is the Model X Plaid, which is priced from $118,490. This car has an estimated range of 340 miles, a top speed of 163mph and a 0-60mph time of 2.5 seconds. Tesla says it has the same 1,020 horsepower output as the Model S Plaid and the same triple-motor drivetrain with torque vectoring. It replaces the 2020 Model X Performance, which was priced from $99,990, had a range of 341 miles, a top speed of 163mph and a 0-60mph time of 2.6 seconds.

Tesla says the 2021 Model S Long Range and Plaid will be available from March, while he Model X equivalents will arrive in April and the Model S Plaid+ lands in "late 2021".

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