Interior quality

Interior quality

I recently visited a Tesla store to test drive the MS. After an introduction to the beta prototype we had an awesome test drive. I was focused on the car dynamics and similar things but totally disregarded the interior. Back at the store the floor model seemed to have smooth/shiny plastic door sills and other smooth plastic trim pieces that honestly were cheap looking. They were also trashed from all the visitors to the store. Before I go any further in the decision process I would appreciate any input current owners have regarding the interior quality. I was expecting something more akin to a lexus, audi, mercedes interior. I really screwed up when I didn't observe the interior of the test drive vehicle. Also any dash board issues-the floor model seemed like the leather top was separating from the wood face of the dash.

emoflash | June 26, 2013

Are you sure you were looking at a Model S? I didn't experience any of those items on my test drive or in the store front. High quality simple interior.

jbdvm1988 | June 26, 2013

It was definitely the MS. The door sill trim and the plastic around the seat base was a cheap looking plastic. I made contact with a store employee and he is trying to arrange a visit with an owner to see their interior in a production car.

kback | June 26, 2013

I love the interior of my Model S and I don't think it looks cheap at all. It is simple and clean, but certainly not cheap. The leather is very soft and appears to me to be high quality. I have owned Audis and Infinitis before my Model S and this is the best car I have ever owned, inside and out. Buy it - you won't be sorry!

ramtaz | June 26, 2013

DITTO! VERY NICE INTERIOR!! Simple and inviting !

JDster | June 26, 2013

Yes, the door sills are plastic and yes they are not very luxurious looking. I covered them with 3M aluminum wrap for better looking and doesn't show foot prints on the door sills. The leather interior is nice but a bit on the stiff side. It looks nice but not totally comfortable to sit in. The leather interior of my BMW 750li is definitely of better quality. I would definitely say the fit and finish of the model S is not up to par with other luxury sedans. But I bought my MS for its technology and am very happy with the car.

GReese | June 26, 2013

Was this a test drive in Chicago?

The Model S on the floor of the store is kinda lame. My car has a much nicer interior feel.

kjin7117 | June 26, 2013

agree w @JDster. if there wasn't an amazing 17" screen capturing my attention i prob wouldn't be that happy w the interior compared to other cars in this class.

blisSfullee | June 26, 2013

I had some concerns before I took delivery. My previous car was a Mercedes CL500 with a very luxe interior. . But now that I have my Model S I am very glad Tesla used the sleek, concept-car interior design and details. It all feels just right and matches the unique handling and performance. It is unlike anything else. I think that may be why owners be one so involved with their cars and the company.

newcasalinda | June 26, 2013

I received my S in early May 2013. The car is amazing to drive and the interior is beautifully clean and minimalist. I would not trade my Tesla for any current production car available of any price. A new Mercedes compared to a Tesla is like comparing an old flip phone to an iPhone. The difference is that dramatic.

CaliSun | June 26, 2013

My last car was a Mercedes AMG and the one before that a BMW and the Model S interior is far superior. This sounds like a troll.

jbdvm1988 | June 27, 2013

In response to GReese the car was in the Oakbrook Illinois store.

J.T. | June 27, 2013

I've had my car for 10 days now and have digested all the complaints about the interior and accents for 4 months of forum reading.

My wife drives an A6, I drive a 4Runner to work every day. Then when I get home I get into S and reappreciate the incredible difference.

It's almost axiomatic to say that Tesla isn't like any other car in its price range. I don't think there was even the slightest intention to fit in.
Different is what we all say we want and then when we get it we say, "But my other car had this."

Yes, I miss the overhead cubby for my sunglasses and my mother would appreciate the hand hold to help her get out of the car, but the thing is, she's 90 years old and she didn't want to get out of the car!!

tobi_ger | June 27, 2013

So did you let you mom drive at least? :)

tobi_ger | June 27, 2013


J.T. | June 27, 2013

She said that she didn't want to, but when she had asked my nephew if he had driven it and his face lit up she said that she just might have to give it a try.

I'll try to get her into the driver's seat this weekend.

christurbeville | June 27, 2013

I've been around and around on this. M5s and Infinity before the S and I can say the seats and dash components as well as many of the glove box and MB bits are top notch there are some elements that are less soft or full leather feeling. But after 4 months and 5k miles I can say while I don't think it's quite M5 territory (one of BMW's best interiors I think its better than the 7) it is better than the Infinity's interior and really as or more comfortable than the M5. That's amazing considering the M5 is like 20 way seats active bolsters and ventilated etc... It is just NOT a German interior design. That's got pluses and minuses but the space and simplicity really grow on you. Also the AC so far is light years ahead of the German's and the Infinity only touches it because their cooled seats really work. All this is of course highly subjective...

defmonk | June 27, 2013

It's a different take on luxury. Someone suggested it earlier, but the neat thing about Model S is that a high-concept interior design actually made it to production. Yes, the door sills are plastic (I'm not sure I'd call them cheap, but it would have been a nice place to carry through with the aluminum accents and logo). The matte wood trim is truly unique and doesn't have the cheapo veneer feel of Mercedes trim. I'm puzzled about some of the seat leather comments, my hides are absolutely flawless and have a garment quality feel. If we're nitpicking, the stitching along the top of the rear seats (viewable only from the rear hatch) is just slightly out of line. The carpets aren't sumptuous, but this is in keeping with the sportier feel. Overall, I'd say the comparisons to hopped-up luxury sedans probably isn't the right one anyway. In spirit, Model S is closer to Porsche than Mercedes, generally cleaner and more purpose driven than fat-cat luxe.

Jewsh | June 27, 2013

Overall I'm happy with the interior. I wish there were more cupholders but then again I'm not sure I want my wife (!) or daughter to bring many drinks into the car. :-)

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

Folks, the production interior is in no way similar to the concept version of Model S. Here are photos of the concept interior:

As you can see, the original concept interior had a nicely built-out center console, a hidden cubby between the seats (it has a button on the side to open it), door pockets, an overall sleeker and sportier "wraparound" feel, and a few knobs and push buttons. Personally I would have preferred that Tesla went with the concept interior as it is more in line with my aesthetic, but that's a personal taste. The production interior, however, does have a more open and expansive feel, but when viewed alongside the concept interior I can't help but feel that Tesla made a few compromises in order to make sense for final production and probably to keep costs down. The concept interior looks like it was designed by a completely different team of people and with a different goal in mind.

With that said, nothing that others have identified as missing or lacking really affects me. I never use the grab bars, have needed to hang a shirt in my car maybe twice in the last 10 years, never use the vanity mirrors so don't even care if they are lit or not, I've only used door pockets to store scraps of paper and other discard items, and I don't remember the last time I adjusted a headrest. But that's me.

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

Second photo looks broken, here is the link to the image:

vsanden | June 27, 2013

I love the leather interior in my car. However I agree that less in this case is not more. The visors are super tiny, the mirror is distorted, I think it's plastic. And the console down the center should have more compartments. It's this wide open space that is not beneficial. Pockets on the door would have been so nice. But the leather is great, and I purchased the grain finish which I like very much. More cup holders or bigger ones would have been nice. I love a big drink in the morning! >)

carlk | June 27, 2013

"and I purchased the grain finish which I like very much. "

Do you mean you have choices of leather types?

rchiang | June 27, 2013

Before I got my car after the test drive I was not concentrating on the interior, I was too busy enjoying the performance of it. But after I got the car I also though that interior was bit cheap looking. Even the material seems to be thin. Perhaps it was meant to be like that because to keep the interior weight down since the car is already heavy. I didn't feel that the dashboard had a solid feel to it, like hollow when you knock on it.

defmonk | June 27, 2013


I didn't say that the concept interior made it to production, rather "a high-concept" interior made it into production. My point was you see all these "zoomy" interiors in concept cars and the production interiors end up being more of the same.

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

@ nickniketown, if you don't own the vehicle and have no intention of purchasing the vehicle, why are you here?

NKYTA | June 27, 2013

NNT is the original and worst of trolls here. Don't engage him at all. Just flag his post as inappropriate and move on.

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

@ NKYTA thanks for the head-up and flagged.

Lou in SoCal | June 27, 2013

My 2 cents on the interior. Let me preface this with that I LOVE my Model S. No other car (be it faster or not) can replicate or match the way the car drives and the sensation it gives the driver...and I've owned over 18 cars in my lifetime including Porsche's, BMW's, and Benz's.

With that said, I do have my gripes on the interior. I'll say this first, the center screen and the obeche matte wood is top notch. My main gripes are the B pillar wear, leather (reminds me of the Lexus fake leather) and the cheap appearance of the stitching, seat function/driver stability (night and day vs. my AMG dynamic seats), headliner (frayed where it meets the windshield; not tucked under the trim or lacking trim), gap on the right top side of the silver trim around the center screen, and the lack of center console. The interior seems to be confused between being a sporty car, sedan, and minivan.

Nevertheless, I understand that no car is perfect and I fully accept the Model S' imperfections because it does not outweigh all the other great things the car has. Although that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about the issues because that's the only way Tesla can get better with future models.

yonak | June 27, 2013

I currently own a S class Benz & my P85 interior is not near the quality or comfort. That being said I wouldn't trade the P85 for 10 Benz's.

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

I get excited when I think about taking delivery of my Model S. I have zero excitement at the thought of buying a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus in this price range. My excitement for Model S has nothing to do with the interior. In my case, I'm buying the driving experience and everything else is just what it comes with.

GReese | June 27, 2013


That's where I did my test drive. The real thing is better than what's sitting in the store, and I also think what we get delivered today is better than the blue with grey interior they are using to do test drives.

I mentioned this elsewhere. I'm not sure if it's just that I like the black so much better than the grey or if there's a significant difference in the way cars are delivered today vs when that model was delivered, but I definitely prefer the interior of my car to either the test drive model or the floor model.

Honestly, they need to stick something else on the floor.

jbdvm1988 | June 27, 2013

The Oakbrook floor model is rough. Not sure how many more cars I'll buy in my life so trying to make the best choice. The performance of this car is incredible. Unfortunately my wife had a headache during the test drive so I had to restrain my urges to really push the car as hard as i could.

jandkw | June 27, 2013

jbdvm1988 It is matter of expectation. It all depends on which premium cars you compare to. If I compare my Model S interior to my other cars I own, BMW 3-series, BMW X3 and Acura MDX, and put the interior design aside, yes, MS materials and quality are better. I also driven and sat in the latest models of BMW 7-series, Mercedes S-class, Audi A8 and Lexus LS, I am sorry to report that these cars' materials are superior to MS and you can hardly find any cheap plastic materials and trim. Tesla never claimed MS is competing against the flagship model of any premium brands, only the mid-range models.

jbdvm1988 | June 27, 2013

That was my assessment also as I drive a Lexus LS. I guess for the cost of the car I was anticipating similar interior quality

Mel. | June 27, 2013

jbdvm1988, I really think the BMW has a superior interior to Lexus. Matter of fact I think Chevrolet has a superior interior to Lexus. Please check out Chevrolet and let us know your opinion.

jbdvm1988 | June 27, 2013

mel-you may be right. i've ben buying toyota and lexus for the last 20 years. just purchased an audi Q5 and love its interior. maybe its time to change it up and go MS

Mel. | June 27, 2013

jbdvm 1988., I think you are on the right track. I took a co worker for a ride after he bought an Aston Martin. He really was impressed with the interior of the Tesla. He is now ordering a model S.

TFMethane | June 27, 2013

I had a bubble in the liner on the front passenger support strut. Silver-dollar size, and hasn't gotten bigger. I don't like the way the mirror cable isn't tucked very well under the headliner.

I've never owned another luxury car, so I can't make direct comparisons. I will say that this is the first gen of a "luxury" car, and my VIN is only 717_. I'm sure they are working out issues on the production line.

One thing Elon said in the pre-battery swap interview with Reuters was that they don't do any surveys of existing or prosepective owners for anything. He smiled and was very proud of that. I understand his reasoning - he knows better about the tech than we do. Fair enough. He should not have this attitude about everything, though... Car interior, for example, is something people have a lot of experience with and have good suggestions for. You sit in the car and stare at close range for a long time at all these things... It really matters.

TFMethane | June 27, 2013

I really love the car, though, and have no regrets about my purchase. It's the best car on the market, and it's loads of fun to drive. I just want to see it succeed, and I can see they have areas to improve. I'm just worried they're only focused on production, and not on quality improvement.

AmpedRealtor | June 27, 2013

"It's the best car on the market."

That's it right there, and the interior is just one piece of the pie.

jbdvm1988 | June 27, 2013

certainly agree that the interior is only a part of the overall experience but its the most obvious portion. the motor, battery, exterior, touchscreen are tremendous assets but substandard materials in the interior would lessen the whole satisfaction. thanks to all for the insight and reassurance

Brian H | June 27, 2013

The pic that didn't post: