Tesla Model S Plaid: Road-Trip around Europe

In this new article, we are driving a Tesla Model S Plaid for a review. It was May 2018 when Tesla appeared for the first time in Car Shooters. We had a Model S 100D on test, fresh from a restyling. It was a big novelty for us, the first electric car, the first Tesla, and all that technology literally left us amazed. Today, for this somewhat itinerant road test, we have the latest version of this sedan, in a decidedly interesting variant. We are indeed driving the Plaid, with a whopping 1020 horsepower. No car has ever pushed the limits on our pages like this.


Compared to our usual road tests, this time we went a bit further. We crossed national borders to see what the travel experience is really like in an electric car. Thanks to a bet among friends, we wondered if it was possible to cover a long journey in times comparable to those of a traditional car. So, we set off from Florence towards Brussels, for a journey of 1300 km, all in one day.


As soon as we got into the car, we headed towards the first destination: the Supercharger in Grandate (Como, Italy). Almost 400 km where we had the opportunity to test the true highway autonomy of this new Model S. With almost no traffic, and therefore a very high average speed, we arrived at the Grandate Supercharger with 10% remaining charge, covering 370 km with 85% battery. Not bad! Despite the 21-inch wheels and three motors, the consumption is very low.


During this short break, we took the opportunity to refresh ourselves and take a closer look at the changes in the Model S interior. A significant step forward, the changes are radical while still maintaining the classic minimalist style of the American house. The perceived quality is high; Tesla has made giant strides in recent years to address this aspect criticized in previous generation cars. The main change in the interior is the new arrangement of elements: the central display is now horizontal and adjustable for easier content consumption. Unlike Model 3 and Y, there is also a traditional dashboard with the main driving data. Not highly customizable, but it does its job. Thanks to the display of driving data on the dashboard, the central display has more space for applications. In fact, unlike Model 3 and Y, it is possible to display extended audio content alongside the navigation.


The undisputed protagonist is the distinctive and criticized Yoke. Initially, it’s quite counterintuitive to use, many maneuvers are uncomfortable and cumbersome. After a while, you certainly get used to it, but little changes: a traditional steering command is still more suitable. Model S was born with the Yoke, later made optional in favor of a more traditional steering wheel.


About 20 minutes later, we resumed the journey, quickly reaching Switzerland where we encountered the first, only, and endless queue of the entire trip. This queue was due to the restricted entry into the Gotthard tunnel. Thanks to the low Swiss speed limits and traffic, the average consumption decreases, allowing for significantly greater autonomy. After an endless number of hours, crossing the tunnel, given the fatigue, we decided to take a break to rest. According to our estimates, the car would allow us to cover more than 200 km. To make the break not in vain, we advanced the recharge and made a pit stop at the Flüelen Supercharger, located just before Lucerne.


This particular Supercharger overlooks a lake and has a small lounge with sofas, air conditioning, and vending machines. In this case, we got tired before the car did, so the recharge was a bit inefficient because we started with more than 50% State of Charge (SoC). In a few minutes, we were back on the road with the battery almost fully charged.


After a short walk to stretch our legs, we took a closer look at the exterior of the new Model S. The changes are certainly less noticeable as the design has remained almost unchanged. The car has been widened to cope with such high power; there are no more chrome accents, and the design of the rear has changed slightly as the bumper that interrupted the taillights is no longer present, and the lights themselves have been made darker.


Finally arriving in Basel, we made a small detour from the original route heading towards the German autobahns. This gave us the opportunity to unleash all 1020 horsepower of this sedan. We set the Plaid mode on the central monitor and floored the accelerator. The three motors (two at the rear and one at the front) provide a thrust that is perhaps an understatement to define as impressive; I’ve never experienced anything like it. The first time is intimidating, the subsequent ones leave you breathless. At any speed, you decide to floor it, Model S Plaid pins you to the seat. The 0-100, excluding the rollout time, is covered in 2.1 seconds; even more impressive is the 0-200, covered in about 7 seconds. Amazing for a sedan of this size. The maximum speed that the test version can reach is 260 km/h, self-limited. Equipping the track package unlocks the maximum speed of 322 km/h.


The three motors of Model S Plaid are covered in carbon fiber, not in a more traditional metal alloy. Thanks to this, the motors allow very high rotation speeds without problems due to high temperatures. Furthermore, the thermal management of the battery, a result of Tesla’s undeniable know-how in the production of electric vehicles, keeps these performances and responsiveness almost unchanged until 20% state of charge.


Next stop in France, at the Vendenheim Supercharger, near Strasbourg. A charging station in the parking lot of a large shopping center. A valuable ally during this journey was the Autopilot driving assistance system, now based entirely on Tesla Vision. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping now rely solely on the car’s cameras. Another small luxury of this car is the display for rear passengers where they can watch Netflix, YouTube, Disney Plus, or Twitch even while driving.


The last stop just after entering Belgium, at the Arlon Supercharger, this time located in the parking lot of a large hotel. Having no charging options at the destination, we decided to stay a few extra minutes.


We finally arrived in Brussels late at night with about 25% remaining charge. The total charging time for covering 1300 km was an hour and twenty minutes divided into 4 stops (Grandate, Flüelen, Vendenheim, and Arlon). The answer to the initial question is, therefore, yes: it is possible to cover such a long journey with times entirely comparable to a traditional car.


The next day we dedicated ourselves to exploring Brussels, driving through the city streets in total comfort and silence. Thanks to small speakers positioned on the headrests, Model S offers a unique noise cancellation system. When activated, the noise from tire rolling and external traffic is significantly reduced. Exceptional comfort is also due to the air suspension system, which allows you to vary the height of the car according to conditions. In the days that followed, we explored other Belgian cities, covering a total of 5000 km in ten days, without any problems.


At the time of this article, the Model S is not eligible for national incentives. It starts at 95,990 euros for the Long Range version, and goes up to 110,990 euros for the Plaid version. All color options are included as standard, with no additional cost. You can customize it with the 21-inch wheel set for 4,950 euros, change the interior color for an extra 2,500 euros, add the Yoke for 1,000 euros, and choose the autopilot version for an additional 3,800 euros (Advanced) or 7,500 euros (FSD). These prices are certainly not common, but they are perfectly in line with what this sedan is able to offer. It represents a perfect blend of performance, range, comfort, and charging capabilities that are still unmatched by many other brands.


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