Fans and foes of electric vehicle maker Tesla are bombarding online sites with opinions on what’s right or wrong about its new steering wheel, a ‘yoke’ design for refreshed versions of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV.
Some claimed the aviation-type helm was a masterful design; others said it was too futuristic. Tesla’s upcoming Roadster sports car includes a similar yoke-style steering wheel.
One US automotive analyst questioned its safety. “It’s not easy to shuffle steering,” said CarExpert.com executive Ken Brauer. “If you talk to anybody who knows anything about racing and proper driving technique, you have to shuffle” your hands, he said.
A US Twitter user said: “So I drive with my hand at the 12 o’clock position on the steering wheel. How on earth am I supposed to drive comfortably with the refresh?”
The new steering wheel is one of a number of substantial aesthetic and performance upgrades to the Model S and Model X. The once-vertical centre screen is now horirzontal, a layout better suited to video games.
Indeed, images previewed at Tesla’s 2020 fourth-quarter earnings report – where Tesla posted a US$270 million profit on revenue of US$10.74 billion – showed an online store with a preview card for the game “The Witcher III.”
The new 43cm-wide front screen can be tilted left or right for driver/passenger convenience. A back seat 20cm screen also showed what looked to be a video game, indicating rear passengers could play in the back seat.
Both the Model S and Model X also receive power upgrades, dubbed ‘Plaid’, thanks to new thermal architecture for “more power and endurance in all conditions.”
“We think it’s probably the best car of any kind available in the world today,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He said it would top out at 320km/h “with the right tyres.”
The Model S Plaid powertrain also bumps up range from an estimated 520km to 840km, based on the US EPA test. The larger Model X Plaid needs 2.5sec to complete the 0/100km/h sprint.
The Plaid powertrain is described by Tesla as “beyond ludicrous,” in reference to the Ludicrous Mode function that gives its cars stand-out acceleration capabilities.