Wish the Model S Interior Looked Better

Wish the Model S Interior Looked Better

Hey everyone. I just felt like posting this thread just to express my thoughts on the Model S's design. In my opinion, the biggest thing that kind of makes me worried is the interior of the car, especially the back seat(s). To say the least, I don't really like the design of the back seat(s). I don't want to be booed at, but I think it should have been better. For example, look at the interior of the new 2014 S-Class from Mercedes. I absolutely loved it. I mean, Tesla doesn't have to make it that good, but at least put a cup holder (which they are going to do later) and an armrest! I really want Tesla to address this problem as quickly as they can. I recently heard Elon during Q2 Fiscal reports earnings call, and, as many of you know, he was talking about Model X (and many other things as well). He said that they were working on improving the design of the Model X. I thank Elon for his honesty, and I think he is awesome. But I hope the Model X's design throughout everything (both exterior and interior) will compete with Daimler, BMW, Audi, and many more luxury auto manufacturers. Let me know what you think on this problem. Thanks!

michael1800 | August 18, 2013

I think the Mercedes S-Class should have a better non-combustion engine system personally.

TommyBoy | August 18, 2013

Hah hah! Excellent! | August 18, 2013

I think for folks that want a cushy interior, the current iteration of the MS is not gonna make them happy. Tesla positions the MS as a performance sedan not a luxury sedan, so its good to keep that distinction in mind.

Personally, I like the clean lines and minimalism--the more I live with my MS the more I appreciate it. As much as I thought I would buy the drop in console when its available, I actually think I will actually go with the yacht floor and keep the open middle. I would also think that the acres of wood, leather and barcolounger chairs add weight which saps both performance and range.

Lots of cars out there, each one a unique blend of compromises.


AlMc | August 18, 2013

respect your comments but I do not look at this as a 'problem' as you referred to it as in your last sentence. I have never owned a car that I think is perfect. Always something I would personally like to see different...more of something...less of something else.

I do believe that as each model of every car manufacturer comes out they get feedback from owners that leads them to make improvements in their design.

I expect nothing less from the X, or when it comes out, the S2.0

I have a reservation for the X as I trust that it will reflect the appearance, fit and finish, and retain the safety features and high tech design of the S and will support attempts by many to getaway from oil based fuel systems that are not easily sustainable.

carlk | August 18, 2013

I consider myself a car guy. Creature comfort like quietness, comfy seats, and smooth rides are always secondary to me in a car. I could just sit in my nice living room recliner and turn on the great audio system if I want that kind of stuff. No car in the world is equipped like that. I buy cars just to drive.

timmsteiner | August 18, 2013

The interior of my P85 far exceeded my expectations and that of my MB E-class.

I doubt they are going to change it. Many people like the simplistic, Apple-like design.

J.T. | August 18, 2013

I completely understand your feelings about this. I am assuming that you are not a reservation holder but just interested in the Tesla products as something you might want in the future should they equip it as you feel it should be equipped.
In another thread I said that it's amazing how excited people are that their Model S is completely different from any other car they owned until they realize it's completely different from every car they owned. Yes, there are no interior appointments to rival the Germans, no incredible consistency of assembly like the Japanese and no list of myriad options like the Americans. It's a beginning.
You asked the forum what we think about it. There have been so many posts on this that it seems if you wanted to you could have easily found out what we think about this.
You just wanted to tell us what you think about it without even asking us if we cared.

AmpedRealtor | August 18, 2013

@ sk1656,

You are paying a premium for an all electric car with market leading range and performance, and which is being produced in small quantities. Built into the cost of every Model S is the research and development of inventing a new, sustainable and ultimately meaningful change in personal transportation. Built into the price of most orders is also the cost of developing and building out the national supercharging infrastructure as well as its "free" use.

I have no idea what the above are worth in dollars and cents, but once you deduct the value of the above you are left with a vehicle that's probably in a price range that is closer to an E-Class. If the things you list are preventing you from purchasing this vehicle, then I humbly suggest that you aren't placing sufficient value on those areas where the Model S is unique and different from the models to which you compare it.

If you haven't already, I encourage you to test drive the car. I think it will put to rest any hesitations you may have.

carlk | August 18, 2013

@AmpedRealtor Let's say MS's interior appointment is the same as that of Aston Martin Rapide, assuming people such as op wants that kind of interior over MS's, then should it be worth much more than the $200K Rapide? MS certainly looks as good and beats Rapide's performance and utility hands down.

AmpedRealtor | August 18, 2013

@ carlk - I believe I said that once you remove the built-in costs associated with subsidizing infrastructure, research and development, we are left with what is essentially not anywhere close to a $100k vehicle. A good chunk of the cost of Model S is in the intangibles. I've always felt that the Model S interior is more appropriately compared to vehicles costing about half of the Model S sticker price. We aren't discussing an Aston Martin, we are talking about a comparison to a specific car - the Mercedes S-Class. I felt that my comments were appropriate given the comparison being made.

TikiMan | August 18, 2013

After driving ICE cars for so many years, it was hard for me to think of the interior of any car being so simple, and minimalistic, it was a turn-off when I first saw it too.

With that said, I now look at the interior of all other cars today as antique (even some of the most expensive exotics look so dated to me now).

All those buttons, gears, switches, analogue gauges, et al, just look so old and inefficient to me now. It's so hard for me to get in my wife's 2011 Infiniti G37, and realize I have to first lock the doors, then push the start-ignition button, then release the parking break, then move the heavy gear shifter into reverse (in ten months of owning my MS, I now hate driving ICE cars).

I'm sure the style of Tesla cars will change over time, as more time and energy are spent on typical features like armrest, cup-holders, vanity-mirror/visors, dry-cleaning hooks, etc become standard features. However, don't expect Tesla to regress to ICE car styling anytime soon, as you will eventually realize how unnecessary many of those old 'features' really were.

ev4life | August 18, 2013

What's the part that needs improvement? There is no need for extra hardware buttons as all of the controls are on the screen. There is no shifter parking brake or drive tunnel to build around and this leaves a fairly blank canvas. This could be disconcerting to those that are used to all the clutter and similar things were said about the first iPhone with only one front button compared to most other smartphone that packed 8 or more. Simplicity can be its own elegance IMHO. | August 18, 2013

I really see no need to add to the interior-- looks good and works well (just like the car itself). TikiMan & huprice +1 with enthusiasm!

bradslee | August 18, 2013

There has been an extensive discussion in this Forums on the topics of MS interior since the first release of MS more than 14 months ago. Everyone can search the topics at

IMO, MS is designed in a philosophy of minimalism to reflect what Leonard da Vinci once said "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Just like huprice pointed out, MS interior design is a part of MS that makes itself outstanding from all ICE cars. Those who complain MS' lack of cup holders, coat hangers, door pockets, and center console etc. are ones who fail to comprehend the true beauty of this innovative piece of art.

defmonk | August 18, 2013


On the money. Also, as omarsultan points out, the inappropriate comparisons are tiresome. An S-Class is simply a different kind of car for another kind of driver.

Cindy I II III | August 18, 2013

Just was going through my paper pile and saw the brochure I got from the Mersedes-Benz dealer before test driving the Tesla. The test drive was the thing between me and the MB. My Model S is coming next week (yeah). But the sports seat of the E coupe still makes me long for it. My current Audi S4 seat is simply wonderful - perfect for a sports sedan. Oh well, obviously, the rest of the Testla is so exciting, I am more than willing to eat the big thin flat seat issue (ordered before seat option was available).

I love simplicity for my eyes, but bought a softy sofa for my but, for it says to me:"come and sit with me". My friend's contemporary sofa was elegant with its simple staight lines, but it says to me:"don't even think about messing up my beauty by sitting on me."

The German sports seats seem to have the perfect balance between simplicity, performance, and comfort.

matt.wis | August 18, 2013

Think of the interior this way: most current interiors are like TV remotes with a million buttons. Tesla is like the Apple TV remote with just a few buttons. You don't need to have so many modes for everything, and each button rarely used. But when you are used to that clutter, it appears almost as a decoration.

So the Model S is missing a lot of the decoration. It looks sparse. I too was worried about the interior. You are not feeling something unusual or unreasonable, and hopefully owners will give you perspective. For me, after having owned a Model S for 2-3 months, I hate getting into cars with all of the buttons and clutter. That which looked cool to me, now looks like an 8 track tape that is wasted space we'll laugh about later. All I care about when I see another car (to compare and see if they've beaten the Tesla) is the size of the main interface screen, and whether the main display (speedometer, etc) is an LCD and configurable. I'm underwhelmed, always.

The leather on the seats could feel more luxurious, but I like it a good bit more than I expected to. I don't want a center console now. The list goes on about correct calls that were made on the car.

I can't tell you how sad I would be if I had held off on buying the Tesla for Benz S Class luxury. My previous car was a CLS 550. After I wired the money to Tesla, I felt buyers remorse like if Drew Brees (a rumored owner) had thrown a football deep into my unsuspecting gut. I loved the CLS 550. Why had I done such a thing? The car came, it was a total joy, and not for one second have I had any buyer's remorse. I also have not been in another interior and thought for one second I wish the Tesla had that interior. I do feel sad when I am deprived of driving the Model S through the fates, my wife, or whatever.

Epilogue: after 48 hours of owning the car, I bought TSLA at $88. It was just too crazy an experience. Now the car is more than covered by the stock position. That's a fairy tale story, but when's the last time you bought a car and it made you want to buy thousands of shares of stock in the company?

Cindy I II III | August 18, 2013

@matt, re your last paragraph - After the test drive, hubby claimed to be checking out the Tesla options.
"What options? Car options or the stock options?"
"Stock options." :-)

jbdvm1988 | August 18, 2013

sk1656; apparently critiques are frowned on. I was just about ready to send my deposit on MS until I really evaluated the interior. I'm not sure if this car is a luxury car. Obviously its a technological masterpiece, has beautiful exterior styling-drop dead gorgeous. But the interior just doesn't live up to my expectations for a vehicle of this price. I tried to get a read on owners opinions of the interior and most are very happy. I'm not sure they haven't compromised by accepting the interior as it is. If Tesla develops a quality interior on model x or the next MS then you'll see me in one of them.

mrspaghetti | August 18, 2013

I like the interior, but then again I'm a guy who's never owned a car with power windows or locks before, so the bar is not very high to impress me on creature comforts. Also, I think the Model S is so cool in all the ways that matter to me that it could just about have burlap in the back seat and I'd probably still buy it.

How often do you sit in the back seat anyway? How often does an adult sit back there for long road trips? In my case, not very often - at all.

To each his own, but I agree with admjr that the interior is not a 'problem', it's just a matter of personal preference.

JPPTM | August 18, 2013

...simple, yet for me.

negarholger | August 18, 2013

The MS is a premium sports sedan... the luxury stuff you are making up.
If you only care about luxury then buy a RR or Mercedes or whatever. The MS has the best propulsion system, try to find an equal in the ICE world - not even close.
I agree if you pay a driver and sit in the rear seats the MS is not for you.
@Cindy123 - drive your MS for two month and then evaluate again. I was suprised how much I like the seats now - most non tiring seats of any car I have driven. Looks deceived me and a test drive is not enough.

EcLectric | August 18, 2013

I have to disagree with the OP. My teenage sons ride in the back seat, and the Model S is the only car in which they like the back seats. We just came back from a dinner in which we had 5 people seated COMFORTABLY in the car. This doesn't happen when you have an arm rest and cup holders taking up 1/3 of the back seat, and a big hump in the middle that someone has to straddle.

wcalvin | August 18, 2013

Those unhappy with the interior, as I am, don't want more decoration or dials. Or even more luxury. We are mostly complaining about omissions such as overhead hand grips. Or the undersized glove box and the lack of door "folders" for maps and trash.

The seats are too minimalist for me. When you can slide sideways so easily, it is unsettling; feels like a bench seat. If they can borrow the steering column from MercedesB, why not the front seats? (Actually I'd prefer they borrow the front seats from the Lexus LS430 in the 2001-2003 model years, 2004ff was a step backwards.)

RZippel | August 19, 2013

No way to suit everyone. How about those of you who don't like it get the car to a premium tuner and have it customized to your personal preferences?

J.T. | August 19, 2013

The thing I find interesting is that no matter how many posters profess to loving the seats the way they are some feel that Tesla has to "improve" them. Not offer options, change them for everyone. What egos!

mikefa | August 19, 2013

i like the current Model S non-pretentious zen look of its interior.

carlk | August 19, 2013

@AmpedRealtor I used the Aston Martin for comparison because it has performance closer to MS and they do have some similarity in looks. I know op was comparing to MB S class but you have to go up to the $200K AMG S65 to compare it to the performance of MS. Even without considering the green part it's still where you want to spend your money for. Another example is Porsche. It is an expensive car and it's never known for nice interiors. Sitll it's on many people's dream car list because of the performance. You can dress it up with Porsche's long, and expensive, list of options but most people who buy that car would rather spend the money on engine upgrades than to have a luxurious interior.

Dwdnjck@ca | August 19, 2013

I hate the front seats in my wife's 2013 E-class. The side bolsters are in the way when I get in and out of the car. They inflate when the car takes the mildest turn, very annoying. The car is a dinosaur compared to the S.

Bernard Hong | August 19, 2013

I think Tesla need a new Studio Design page for people who wants MB seats, Audi interior design, Porsche performance, BMW this and that. Or should Tesla start up a new company?
I like the way it is now and I believe they had gone through a lot of different thoughts and designs to come up the way it is now. I think they had serious think what needs and what no needs like the Spare tire issue, some people want to have it and doing DIY and myself, I have been driving 24 years and I put avery 25000 mile per year in my past 20 years and I do not recall I used my spare tire.

carlk | August 19, 2013

@hong_bernard@ho... You're right about the spare tire. It's even less likely that you will need to use it now with the early warning system (TPM).

gooshjkc | August 19, 2013

sk1656 does have a point. The interior can be better, but it's good enough for now. Enough so, that I have one on order. The MS is an achievement to say the least and that's what Tesla is going to run with now and I respect that. Hopefully though they will see some of the misses they have and correct it in future cars and even in these current ones.

AmpedRealtor | August 19, 2013

Tesla should just hire some German auto interior designers, done!

201w77 | August 19, 2013

I love the MS and think the interior of the car is very good. That said, I feel like the comments made by sk1656 are reasonable and welcome. I'd love to have an arm rest in the back seats and would love the seats to recline back slightly (greater pitch). They are already taking steps to improve (rear mounted cup holders coming soon) and I applaud them for this.

I don't think comments made in terms of improvement opportunities were made out of frustration but made out of constructive feedback for TM. I love it... keep them coming! TM has already acknowledged that they must improve the comfort of the rear seats prior to entering the China market since most of their target buyers will have chauffeurs. Nothing wrong with having these redesigned and plush rear seats be adapted to all Model S cars in all markets!

mrspaghetti | August 19, 2013

I second whoever said any interior changes should be options. I would have no problem with people who want such fluff to pay for it, but I very much like the interior as-is.

carlk | August 19, 2013

@mrspaghetti That's the point yet people are complaining the $2500 leather option or the $800 CF interior and few say they will get them. Those "German" cars charge much more for those either as options or are included in the base price.

GLO | August 19, 2013

Love the interior!

Mark K | August 19, 2013

After 4,000 miles in a Model S, I have now bonded with the minimalist interior.

After many Mercedes purchases, I came to expect certain features and finishes. The MS interior was a shift from those. But the other advances in the car are so compelling, I would not trade them for another Mercedes in its place.

What this thread points out though, is that Tesla is leaving money on the table by not offering a luxury interior option.

Offering those traditional amenities (console, storage pockets, cushier seats, etc.), would harvest demand from less adventurous buyers who are acclimated to the other cars in this price range.

Tesla is supply-constrained for the moment, but a luxury interior option by the 3 year product refresh point would widen the market considerably.

Buyers are heterogeneous, so no one interior style will ever harvest all of them.

It is fair to say that Tesla has succeeded in spite of the interior, not because of it.

And what's kind of kooky is that nice coachwork is such a modest challenge compared to the rocket science advances in the drive train. Tesla aimed for the title of best car in the world, and I think they won it. But the interior, while good, isn't the equal of the rest.

The touchscreen is an awesome advance, and really better than on any other interior that you can buy. But the pedestrian things - the spartan voids, missing amenities, and less plush finishes are the reason why the Model S has not shut down sales of other luxury cars.

They are already outselling A8, 7, MB S, and LS460 by 2 to 1.

When they can get to it, a luxury interior option will make the switch even more breathtaking.

ev4life | August 19, 2013

So comparison of the MS is a bit tricky and I'd separate the front seats from the back for a minute. Realize that the comparison of the MS can be pretty broad from sedans like Audi A6/BMW 5 class/MB E class and up to Porsche (911's and Panameras), Aston Martins and all manner in between. In many ways the most direct comparisons for the interior/exterior is the Audi A7/MB CLS/BMW 6 Gran Coupe. Why? Several reasons: Ballpark performance, Pricing w/options, Exterior size, Exterior Shape (fastback/hatchback design) and Rear Passenger room.

In my opinion from the front drivers/passengers position there aren't really many other cars on the market I'd trade with the MS. The Display/Dash combination is amazing, the finish work of unique woods/CF inserts and the 100% stitched nu-leather or leather dashboard/door inserts is a pretty high class look that has varying levels of similarity to many of the above with some of them including bits of molded plastic in their dashboards and doors. I like the lack of door pockets that in my experience are quickly filled with clutter and then seldom unfilled. The one suggestion I'd have is a slightly better cup holder design to accommodate a wider variety of sizes and stability.

For the rear seat all of the comparison cars I listed have only a 2 seat rear configuration and choose to continue the console concept to the rear. This appears a bit more plush (dedicated armrest, upholders and more of an individual rear bucket vs. bench seat) and I'd give the edge to most of the competitors for this if you wish to give up the extra seat. When the rear seat console ships from Tesla I think this may improve the situation for folks who like this layout though in many ways for me the rear middle seat is now the best seat back there. From an appointment and detail perspective I think it looks and feels fine and certainly comparable to others in it's class. I would say it's a bit more on the Audi/BMW simplicity side over the MB/Porsche Luxury which is fine with me too.

gooshjkc | August 19, 2013

I would like to say one more thing. The Model S is whole different vehicle and it should make fresh approach on a vehicle should be like. If it is missing like door pockets, that means less mess to some and to some a hassle. However, some things should be added. For me, that would be like the drink/arm rest in the middle. I like what Tesla came up with, but I don't think that will do it for most.

Olof | August 19, 2013

The MS interior looked a bit odd to me too at first and reminded me of 1960s style FWD cars before the middle consoles became pronounced.

After having lived with my P85 now for a month i totally LOVE the interior. Especially the middle position in the back seat is awesome with its unobstructed view, your proper seat, flat floor and and ease of cummunication with both front seat passengers.

The next, braver iteration of the interior would be to remove the tower/remainder of a console so that the rear middle passenger could stretch his/her legs. The front passengers cold still have arm rests attached to their seat backs.

In terms of front seats I think they are very comfortable even though they look flat and bench like. Bucket seats look cool in old cars but I am not sure if they add comfort or that you need all the lateral support. (unless you drive formula One at 5G)
I have driven my S through long sweeping curves with screeching 21 inch tires and don't feel that I am sliding around in the seat badly at all.

exPGAhacker | August 19, 2013

Comparing the MS to an ICE vehicle is waste of time. We are on a new frontier with this car. You'd expect Mercedes to have a cushy interior... they've been practicing it for decades now. I'd assume they would eventually get it right. They may still! Haha

If you don't like what you see from Tesla, then don't buy a Tesla. I'm sure the powers that be are ahead of the curve and they hear the talk. But for a first time out of the gate, they got it right! I love my MS85 so much that I talked my fiancé into getting one for herself. You know... to save the marriage before it starts!

The interior. It's perfect and everything I expected it to be. I'm sure Henry Ford heard the critics. I'm just glad he didn't listen.

Getting Amped Again | August 19, 2013

A slow, old horse with a nice saddle is still a slow, old horse.

Thumper | August 19, 2013

A few years ago, my wife and I retired. With an architect, we designed the "perfect" retirement home for us. In spite of controlling every single tiny aspect of the design and construction, (which can be tedious and way to self-absorbing) it is not really perfect. We can think of many aspects we would do differently if we were building it again.
Relax, enjoy the car. Nothing is perfect, and no mass produced product will ever come close to satisfying everyone in every particular!

Brian H | August 19, 2013

Judging from the "fatigue-free driving" post, and others, I think the designers at MS have done far better than it appears at first glance.

michael1800 | August 19, 2013

Perfect for one is flawed to another. All things considered, I think the S is as close as I've ever seen to a perfect car. | August 19, 2013

You know what I love about the MS interior--no telephone poles:



Colasec | August 19, 2013

+1 omarsultan :)