Model S interior design

Hi everyone
I went today so excited with intensions to buy a model S but I was very disappointed with the interior design. I figured if I am paying at least 85K for a car, I would get a luxury sedan but the quality of leather as well as interior design was far from luxury. Unfortunately there is not much options for upgrade for the interior.
Do you agree, or have you found a solution (like aftermarket upgrades)?

I think you've made a huge mistake. (former Cayman S owner and Arrested Development fan)

enovak - your criticism is fair. For some who are not in a hurry to ditch gas, the Model S Interior may feel too radical.

I do believe right now TM is turning away customers who would have loved the technology, but get stuck on missing interior amenities.

When my wife gives rides to her friends who drive Audis and MBs, some don't quite know what to make of the interior.

Or as someone posted a couple years ago, "the outside makes promises the inside can't keep".

Still, like I said earlier, you acclimate pretty fast and the overall experience is addictive.

@Bighorn +1 Current Cayman S owner and only waiting for the parking sensor to become available to click the buy button for a P85+. I think you already know although they are not the same kind of cars but performance of the MS will smoke the Cayman S and that's probably an understatement.

BTW where is the Arrested Development comment coming from? I did not see anyone mention that in any of the posts. I'm also a big AD and Netflix fan.

I was referencing GOB's tagline "I think I've made a huge mistake." I bought one of the first Cayman Ss based on all the positive press, multiple COTY awards, etc. No doubt a well-balanced car, but I grew bored with it within a year. Coming out of a V8 BMW, I'd probably hoped for some more oomph. I haven't followed the updates, but I recall it having a fairly spartan interior, as well. My P85+ is heading toward production and I have little doubt that my primal need for acceleration will be fulfilled.

@bighorn: If you are getting a 85P+ the Tesla grin is definitely in your future.

Ok, I might end up insulting some of you folks especially current Model S owners so first I would like to apologize to all of you in advance!

These comments are intended to help Tesla Motors improve... even if it means for a fan, supporter and investor such as myself to vent such strong negative PURELY HONEST & EMOTIONAL opinion... Again sorry!

I'm a big fan of the Model S. However, I dislike the bare look of the interior. Sorry to the minimalistic folks out there but I'm pretty sure that most (outside of this forum) would share the opinion that the 2015 Mercedes Benz C-Class, for example, knocks the sh!t out of the Model S' interior.

For this reason alone, I'm thinking of buying a C-Class even though it goes against my values to choose EV over ICE. The much cheaper C-Class has captured my emotional side in a way that the Model S does not! Yes, I've seen the car in person and have visited the MB dealership 4x already.

2015 C-Class:

Model S:

Dear Elon & Franz,

If you're reading this you've achieved the most compelling car in the world in all aspects EXCEPT for the interior. In this area, companies like MB is kicking TM's behind. It's frustrating to avid fans like myself who want your company to succeed and dominate.

Frankly, I don't see any reason why TM can't design an interior that would knock the sh!t out of MB. I would love to see that especially in the Model 3! Thank you in advance.

Met vriendelijke groet,

A Model 3 wannabe owner who's having a sucky time waiting and $$$aving for at least another 3 years... knowing that he can get his hands on a sexy looking C-Class today.

i think thats what they have done.
byebye c-class for me.


The C Class interior does look luxurious, but to my eyes it also looks fussy. I do prefer the driver and passenger seats to come equipped with aft pockets though. The Model S is not perfect, but it is wonderful!

I looked at Mercedes as well ... c and e class - very nice cars for sure, but I find the open feel of the s refreshing. The giant center console typical of ice cars just looks in the way to me now. Also, the open layout of the entire interior of the s can't be beat ... try putting a mountain bike in a c!

@ByeByeOil, you are an example of the impressionable mind the auto companies have targeted for years. You need to reevaluate your decision making and eliminate the industry planted prejudices. I look at the same pictures and wonder how anyone can like the ICE age look of the C-Class dash! This style will get old so quickly you will have to buy a new car couple years! At least that's their plan!

I'm really surprised that some people still prefer the 20th century busy cockpit look than Tesla's 21th century spacecraft minimalist high tech interior. I can bet you my bottom dollar Mercede/Lexus' design in the next decade or so will go the Tesla way instead of Tesla ever go their way.


I tend to agree. Frankly to me, it's like a movement toward modernist furniture. I had to wikipedia it to be sure.

"Today industrial design is functionally motivated and follows the same principles as modern architecture: machine-like simplicity, smoothness of surface, avoidance of ornament.... It is perhaps the most fundamental contrast between the two periods of design that in 1900 the Decorative Arts possessed..."

It is a personal preference but I wouldn't avoid buying the best-made table in the world for all practical metrics because I didn't like the lines. However, I'm sure some people will.

Sometime in the future, Tesla will want to capture this market. Will they create a new trim level for them? BMW, MB, Lexus have their interior Sport / Luxury interior and exterior stylings. With enough engineering they are able to do it. To me. it sounds like of resources waste. I expect this to happen only after 5-7 years when Tesla manufactures a larger number of cars.

I mean, once everyone has a Tesla, how will you distinguish yourself? Sport & Luxury Trims!


It was not clear, but I agree with your sentiment that the interior is not as nice. I'm just a fan of a certain level of ornamental design. However, it is not stopping me from getting a Tesla. I refuse to spend another dime on an ICE engine, let alone $40K. That is my hard line, my friend. If you can't do a Model S today, I would recommend leasing a Leaf (which is what I currently have). It is a wonderful and affordable bridge until Model 3. It's also taught me a bit about my day to day driving needs with electric cars.

There is more to the Model S than the interior. I agree with you about the interior but you have to balance out the fact that the Model S is the only game in town if you want a high performance and long range EV. No one else is even close to delivering what you get with the Model S.

The interior is modern, the 17" LCD is brilliant, and Tesla has done a great job with the design in general but though modern, I find the interior to be more Spartan than luxurious. I can't stand the available wood trim options and I wish the interior remained modern but more luxurious but it is what it is.

At the end of the day I'd pick a Model S over a loaded S550 (whose interior I prefer) because the driving experience of the Model S is so much more superior and that's what matters the most to me.

I bet I'm not alone but I bet some people are happy with the Model S exactly the way it is. In fact I'm sure some feel the current interior is the epitome of perfection as if god himself created it :)

But I do hope sooner rather than later they make the interior more luxurious and do a better job of integrating ambient lighting in the interior. Something I always find comforting about the S class interior at night is how well they've integrated indirect ambient lighting to create a warm glow at night (and yes, I know with the current S class you can make it look like a nightclub but if you set the color to a warm amber the effect at night is elegant).


Agreed. Bright white LED do not make for the best ambient interior lighting. Hopefully Tesla's sourcing interior lights from more willing partners now. My fingers are crossed that we get a more amber glow before I take delivery.

I would say that from a handling perspective, Tesla has some work to go. Comparing to an S550 is a touch off. I would compare to Audi A7 or A8 for handling. They're almost there but the EV aspect seals the deal every time for me.

nicksun +1: It is fabulous that you are in a BEV. The Leaf is a good automobile that has challenged the conventional autos and I hope more people get into them and discover as you did their own level of BEV driving. Once you get into a Tesla you will graduate into the next level of BEV driving...and the longer you drive the Tesla, the cheaper it is to own. You will also move up into another threshold of service from the manufacturer that no other auto maker can match, and you don't have to suffer the dealership experience. The "revolution" is incremental and patience is needed, one driver at a time.

@byebyeoil...keep the faith with you commitment to'll come to love the Tesla interior and if not that is your choice as a consumer, although you are outnumbered by other Tesla owners. For now, Tesla needs to keep economies of scale leaning toward the present design...soon your needs will be met.


these two pictures definitely say it all. While I might agree with the perforated leather seats on the MB,
I have to say that the layout is way too cluttered on the MB. The line of the curve over instruments being broken by the small rectangular Nav screen sticking so unceremoniously up into the space, below the round vents, then more rectangular lines with buttons etc. The doors look very cluttered as well, it is a very busy look.
Of course , beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but having had the A8, a Mercedes, and still driving a Boxster and a Cayenne, I've been there, done that, bought the T shirt, as it were, and yes it might be an acquired taste, but I'm looking forward to the new clean lines of the S.
Eery so often when I clean out all the side pockets , back pockets , drawers of my cars, I realize that most all of that stuff I should've thrown away long time ago. So maybe I'll end up managing my stuff better now. I looked at the aftermarket console, and for a moment I thought it might be a good idea to have a storage space, but ........:)

I caught a lady photographing my MS in a parking lot - for her brother, she said, who is an avid fan. Ok, would you like a photo of you in the car with which to torment your brother? She said yes, handed me her phone for the picture & hopped in behind the wheel. She looked overwhelmed & said she was afraid to touch anything - I took that to be approval of the interior, and with her inside I was especially inclined to agree. The lesson is that if the interior is too minimalist for you, accessorize!

As we parted I suggested she tease her brother that this is her take-home company car.

@bobrobert +1

Once you get inside you really start to appreciate the lines and the color contrast of the interior colors, especially on the doors. I find it striking.

Also, having a place to stash "the bag" is an incredible leap forward for mankind.

Less is more don't change you got it right.

Interesting perspectives on interiors. I agree with less is more. I don't even want a center console, I love driving and focus on that. The leather seats, high end stereo, air, performance were musts for me.
Maybe for a self-driving vehicle you would want all the "stuff" then you could make it like a Bentley(costs at least double and is gas).

@ ByeByeOil,

I prefer that my car's dashboard not have breasts. I also prefer to have my LCD screen integrated with the rest of the dash rather than propped up on top like an iPad mini - as if the designers didn't know where to put this "new fangled" technology. All of the buttons in the C-class interior are horrid and serve no purpose other than to dazzle the eyes with all of the things you can press. Absolutely unnecessary in a 21st century vehicle and reflective of nothing more than status quo thinking.

It's a matter of personal taste. The Model S interior fits my design aesthetic perfectly. Anyone with a background or formal education in design can immediately appreciate the thought process behind the Model S interior. Words like Helvetica and Eames immediately come to mind. If you think Helvetica is just a font, you are not a designer! It's a movement.

Some of the older luxury leathers were thicker and perhaps more durable. The Model S leather is more supple, perhaps thinner. Time will tell how it holds up. I wish the floor carpet was not black...really hard to keep looking clean. Some kind of tweed look would have made that easier.
I do have two other issues I would like to ask other owners. I am only one week into ownership...and yes, this is the coolest car in town. 1st question: Does anyone else have an issue with the front door sagging slightly and needing a little extra help to close? 2nd question. Has anyone noticed a misalignment of the headrest through the steering column to the speedometer's center? I could swear it is off a a degree or two. If I sit perfectly centered against the headrest, my vision lines up toward the left of center across the road, particularly if I wish to look down at the speedometer simultaneously. Being picky of course, but its a pricy package so I don't want noticeable flaws.

WEB_SRFR mentioned, "...the epitome of perfection as if god himself created it..."

Well... The Tesla Model S is close...

@Red Sage Not quite there yet but the MS interior is awfully similar to the Dragon II interior. There is little wonder why it was designed that way. Everything is on purpose.

To people who want Tesla to imitate MB/Lexus I'll just say I hope they will never do that. Let the Koreans to imitate MB/Lexus looks. Or let MB/Lexus to imitate Tesla. I think they will eventually do that. Visionaries like Musk or Jobs only create trends. They never follow trends. The moment they do that their values will be largely diminished.

@Mike83 I too have pre-ordered the center console but decided that I don't want if after driving my MS for a few weeks. What a nice clean look and actually the extra floor space is very useful too! This is another example here of what was purposely designed but some old school thinking just could not adjust to the concept. C'mon guys we are driving the car of future let's first throw out the "a car should have that" mentality.

I like to think about the future...

@AmpedRealtor That's hilarious. I agree. I like the clean design of the S...simple but effective. Mercedes has always been pretentious and so is the interior...

I'd take the Tesla interior over the C class hands down...the Benz is just too much and the screen looks like an awkward add on.

For me, Tesla's on the right track with the simplicity, but there could be improvements. It could have more character. I'd like to see the sides of instrument screen above the steering wheel squared up so that it and the center screen related better to each other. To my eye, the center screen is high tech, and the shape of the screen above the steering column is vintage Oldsmobile.

The interior of the Bentley manages to be both luxurious and simple. I like that. I would also like going even more high tech and unifying both screens in a style more SpaceX.

The basic styling of the S interior is fine by me. I still think some things can be done which don't interfere with it. For instance moulded-in door pockets below the armrest. My 7 year old Merc has these and they include, in the front a place to stand a wine bottle vertically. I use that all the time!!. More importantly to me, sunglasses holder, could be moulded in to the headliner and thus disappear when not in use. And, yes I know, and "not again", but for mobility challenged folks, NOT to hang dry cleaning off, Grab handles that fold flush to the headliner in moulded recesses. None of these would affect the uncluttered look, yet would still provide significant functionality. Still leaves the entire centre area open for those who place their bags there.
Another way to provide more discrete storage and not affect any of the interior design is to replace the kangaroo pockets in the front seats with an opening latched hatch and under seat storage. Completely out of sight!! They could even be a drawer configuration. Of further significant benefit, a center folding armrest for the rear seats. Yes, they can be made so that the seats still fold flat like the current ones do. Made hollow, they could incorporate heaps of things, storage, cup holders, USB ports, power off takes, sunglass holder, flat screens to play videos (like on aircraft) (for the kids) etc. Good design of the upholstery could make them disappear into the backrest stitching. The cubby under the center screen could have a door to provide further privacy.
I don't believe that any of this would have a material effect on the design aesthetic.

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