Tesla Model S: which one to buy?

Tesla Model S: which one to buy?
Tesla Model S is a five-door sedan of segment F equipped with an electric engine assisted by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery; this is the first model produced in series by Tesla and from which Model X and, now, Model Y are inspired. First shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the design of the Model S bears the signature of Franz von Holzhausen, former Volkswagen, GM and Mazda designer.

Almost 10 years after the debut of the first model, Elon Musk renews the range of the electric flagship that has represented for some time the reference point of the electric car market. The first Model S was delivered in 2012, more precisely on June 28, 2012, to an American customer in the “Signature Series” set-up, dedicated to all those who had immediately believed in the (almost visionary) project of the South African entrepreneur.

Model S was not the first real Tesla to arrive on the market; previously, in 2008, the manufacturer had tried his hand at a two-seater model developed together with Lotus and known as the Tesla Roadster. Stiff roof, precise chassis and brilliant performance: this is the recipe chosen by Musk for this sporty model. With the Model S, Tesla began to structure itself more as a company, increasing production volumes, profits and thinking from a more entrepreneurial perspective. The electric sedan was developed with the intention of being the best car in its category, however, characterized by a zero-emission engine.

Thanks to the supercar performance and the autonomy of about 400 km, Model S soon became (in the USA) the best-selling flagship of the American and German houses, which were competing for leadership from various years. During the life cycle of the model, Tesla has improved numerous aspects, both aesthetic and functional, introducing important changes with the aim of making it easier for the driver and his passengers.

With the MY 2021 version, Tesla announces therefore new equipment and even higher performances. But which version is better to evaluate?


Model S measures 4.97 meters in length with a wheelbase of about 3 meters and a total weight of just over 2 tons. In addition to the classic rear trunk common to most cars, there is also a more compact compartment under the front hood, known as frunk, useful for positioning charging cables and small bags.


The interior design is minimalist and characterized by the presence of a few physical buttons on the dashboard. While the first version adopted a 17-inch display placed vertically in which all the information of the car came together, the updated variant (MY 2021) benefits from a display positioned horizontally for the front rows and a more contained one positioned on the central tunnel so as to ensuring greater comfort for the rear occupants as well.

No dashboard, therefore, only a large display set in the center console; it is a fundamental screen for viewing and monitoring all the functions and indications of Model S. In addition to information on speed and range, you can manage the audio system, the charging and air conditioning system, the settings of the driving assistant and all those ancillary services that Tesla provides. Furthermore, using the new Tesla Arcade feature it is possible to play some important titles such as Cyberpunk 2077.

Model S, like almost all electrified vehicles always connected to the network, is able to update itself automatically by receiving the OTA packages released by the manufacturer. There is also a navigation system that calculates the chosen route including the recharging network with Supercharger and indicating the duration of the stop so that the vehicle is charged enough to leave.

As regards the assistance devices for driving, Tesla has provided several technologies such as monitoring the driver's attention level, the lane departure warning system, emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition and finally the recognition of road signs.

The automatic pilot is present as standard in the basic variant which essentially acts as a more advanced Adaptive Cruise Control. Those who, on the other hand, want and need a more advanced solution, the more advanced "Premium" system is available with a surcharge of 7,500 euros, capable of: automatically managing motorway junctions, changing lanes on high-traffic roads, parking (in parallel and perpendicular) and finally automatically recover the vehicle (Summon).

A battery and 8-year warranty

The 2021 range consists of the Long Range, Plaid and Plaid + versions, all equipped of a 100 kWh (rumor) and 350 Volt battery pack. As for the "Ludicrous" mode, available in the previous "Performance" version, the term "Plaid" also derives directly from the film Spaceballs (Spaceballs), a parody of Mel Brooks dedicated to Star Wars.

The guarantee for batteries it is 8 years or 240,000 km, whichever occurs first, with at least 70% capacity retention beyond the contract period. The warranty naturally also covers the repair or replacement of any failed parts.

The charging system provides for the additional installation of Tesla Wall Connector, capable of delivering a maximum power of 7.4 kW and 31 -44 km of autonomy per hour, depending on the maximum charging speed of your residence. The use of systems equipped with a higher output, up to 250 kW (such as Supercharger V3 with CCS Combo 2), provides for a drastic reduction in charging times.


Three incremental power steps provided by the Palo Alto manufacturer, so as to facilitate the choice of all those looking for a high-performance electric sedan. The Long Range variant, the cheapest model, guarantees a range of 663 km and a higher power of 440 hp ensured by a double engine. The more sporty versions Plaid and Plaid +, equipped with three engines, respectively reach 628 and 840 km of autonomy with a maximum power exceeding 1,000 hp. Finally, all models are equipped with four-wheel drive all-wheel drive.

While Model S Long Range has a limited speed of 250 Km / h, the Plaid variants stop at 320 Km / h of maximum peak. The differences in the shot from 0 to 100 are important: 3.2 seconds for Long Range and about 2 seconds for Plaid and Plaid +.

Which variant?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the range is divided into three versions for the Italian market:

Model Drive Battery Declared autonomy WLTP Power List price Long Range AWD TBA 663 Km> 440 HP 89.900 Euro Plaid AWD TBA 628 Km 1.020 HP 119.900 Euro Plaid + AWD TBA 840 Km 1.100 HP 140.900 Euro The increase in performance is not the only aspect that determines the differences between the models; it should be noted that among the available fittings there are some both aesthetic and functional inequalities that affect the final price of the car. A clear example is represented by the enhanced brakes and some details in carbon fiber (such as the rotors): all modifications exclusive to the Plaid and Plaid + variants.

Long Range and Plaid In conclusion, if the autonomy represents the most decisive aspect in choosing the correct variant, it is advisable to evaluate the purchase of the entry-level Long Range set-up which ensures greater mileage. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a greater sprint and do not have particular spending limits, it is advisable to purchase one of the sportier versions.

If I wanted to buy it used?

A question that is legitimate to ask concerns the differences between the current model in production (and arriving for September) and the previous Model S that has remained in trade for several years. What changes in detail?

With the MY 2021 version, as mentioned, numerous details have been updated which can be summarized in three categories:

Power supplies: the engine and the battery now reach higher thresholds, thus guaranteeing both greater performance and longer autonomy. To do so, Tesla did not implement the 4680 cells announced at last year's Battery Day, but improved the quality of the structure and connections inside the car. Exteriors: Model S MY 2021 now benefits from the “Chrome Delete” package that allows you to eliminate all the chrome moldings in favor of a decidedly more captivating matte black color. There are also "advanced" tires, perhaps softer and more comfortable, and an opening key similar to that introduced on Model 3 and Model Y. Interior: the most substantial update introduced by the Palo Alto company undoubtedly concerns this area. Here the dashboard has been completely revisited which now incorporates a display positioned horizontally, a steering wheel completely similar to that of Kitt (perhaps not even homologated in Europe), a display for the rear occupants and finally more comfortable seats. The MY 2021 version also features AirWave climate control, perfectly integrated into the dashboard with almost invisible vents.

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