All new cars coming out of Tesla's factory now have the hardware fitted.

Tesla Model S Electric Car Gets Minor Upgrade With Revised Front Grille, Bio Defence HEPA Filter As Optional Extra

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing some rumors suggesting that Tesla’s flagship electric car — the luxury Tesla Model S — was to get a minor facelift, a few options changes, and a minor price increase shortly after the official unveiling of the Tesla Model 3 electric sedan.

This morning, Tesla proved those rumors correct by quietly launching a revised Tesla Model S online configurator showing a new nose, revised interior choices, new 48-amp on-board charger, and (as an optional extra) the same Bio Defense HEPA filtration system found as a standard item on the Tesla Model X electric SUV.

Do you like the mild refresh of the 2016 Tesla Model S?

Do you like the mild refresh of the 2016 Tesla Model S?

It also increased the price of all Tesla Model S variants by $1,500 each, making the entry-level Tesla Model S 70 available from $71,500 before state or Federal incentives and before mandatory destination and documentation fee of $1,200.

So what’s different? The first and very obvious change is the update to the nose, giving the revised Model S the same distinctive front as the Tesla Model X and recently-revealed Tesla Model 3.

The new Model S is essentially Tesla's mid-cycle refresh of the classic design.

The new Model S is essentially Tesla’s mid-cycle refresh of the classic design.

Looking more closely, there seems to be a subtle deletion of the chromed lip under the rear of the car too – something akin to the changes Apple went through when it opted to remove various skeuomorphic elements from its iOS operating system.

Unlike other automakers, who tend to wait until the end of a model year before introducing new features to their cars, Tesla tends to roll out features and and when they’re ready for market. In the case of Model S, these new features also help to keep new customers coming to the brand: the first Model S cars rolled off the production more than four years ago and in today’s modern automotive industry the Model S is getting decidedly long in the tooth. The mild refresh — a common automotive industry practice — keeps the Model S fresh and relevant, as well as helping Tesla hold down the fort until the arrival of Model 3 next fall.

For those interested in the bio defence HEPA air filtration system it’s being offered as part of Tesla’s revised $3,000 premium upgrade package. That package also includes dynamic LED turning lights, LED fog lights, Nappa leather trim, LED ambient interior lighting and LED lit door handles, as well as power lift gate.

Aside from the new nose and optional bio defence HEPA filtration system, Model S also gets a couple of new interior trim options: Dark Ash Wood Décor or Figured Ash Wood Décor. But perhaps the most practical update to Model S comes in the form of an improvement to the on-board charger included as standard. Instead of the 40-amp charger included in previous Model S versions, Tesla is now installing a 48-amp on-board charger as standard, decreasing charge time when paired with Tesla’s wall connector charging system.

There's much more of a family resemblance now between Model X, Model S, and the upcoming Model 3.

There’s much more of a family resemblance now between Model X, Model S, and the upcoming Model 3.

Pay an additional $1,500, and Tesla will install two of those chargers, improving home recharge times by 50 percent when paired with Tesla’s wall connector and a 240-volt, 100-amp power supply.

Here at Transport Evolved, we can’t say the improvements were exactly a surprise, given the number of rumors we’ve heard of late. But we are curious to note that there’s no 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack option yet. First hinted at earlier this year, we’d hoped today would herald the arrival of the Tesla Model S P100D as the new high-end Model S.

Being a Tesla Roadster owner, this author can’t help but wonder if Tesla will offer the same kind of upgrade program to Model S owners as it did with the original Tesla Roadsters when mild refreshes and improvements rolled out. While those owners were offered a 2.5 facelift upgrade when Tesla unveiled the Roadster 2.5, we can’t help but think Tesla’s maturity — and the far larger number of Model S electric cars sold — means that such an upgrade package for existing Model S owners is unlikely.

Then again, we are talking about Tesla: the company which likes to be different!

Do you like the revised design of the Model S? How about those new and improved features? And will this tempt you to order one? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below — and if you’re ready, you can design your car here.


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  • Yikes. Not sure about the lower sill pieces now being body coloured.. In light shades it makes the car look really “heavy” or bigger. Hard to describe.

    Similarly makes the rear diffuser look a bit out of place.

    I like the nose and headlights though. I guess if I was ordering one it’d have to be a dark one now!

  • Will Davis

    It looks so much better now

    • Michael Thwaite

      I’m with you, I actually prefer it.

  • CDspeed

    I like, it was time for a little refresh.

  • Martin Lacey

    Hope my model 3 nose looks as sleek as that!

  • Chris

    It looks better without the fake grille. It was a good idea to have it at the start to ease the visual transition from ICE cars. But it’s been long enough now and it was the right time to make the change with the Model X out in the wild.

  • Dennis Pascual

    I think it’s a little soon for a drastic nose job. Since Tesla is following the luxury market, I was hoping that it would be closer to the 7 year cycle that I was used to with BMW. Changing the design every 4 years is going to be pricey for many folks that I know.

    We’re keeping our classic S for a lot longer. (though if we get an X and our 3 reservations will be in this new design.)

    • Michael Thwaite

      With the Roadster 2.5 they offered a new nose however, John Volcker warned me against upgrading – “The collectors will be looking for ‘original’ models.”

      • Dennis Pascual

        Well.. We do have a 1.5 Roadster, that’s not getting a nose job 😉

  • Surya

    As soon as I saw the Model X I expected this, and it’s a nice improvement. The price increase that is coming with this update is not so nice though 🙁

  • owlafaye

    The former Tesla Model S grill and the new iteration should be used as a basis for future designs. No need for any drastic changes over the years.

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