By on April 12, 2016

2016 Tesla Model S

Grilles are so 20th century.

As we speculated last week, Tesla has put a new face on its Model S, doing away with the faux grille designed to trick people into thinking there was something combusting under the hood.

The new front end is a corporate amalgam of the both the recently unveiled Model 3 sedan and Model X SUV. Tesla apparently thinks that society has progressed enough to accept the disappearance of an air-sucking mouth at the front of a car.

The Tesla logo sits triumphantly above the newly blank space, flanked by LED headlights, while the lower fascia remains relatively unchanged (minus a slight increase in the size of the lower opening).

2016 Tesla Model S

News of the facelift accompanied claims that Tesla was going to move the Model S slightly upmarket with increased interior luxury. The Model S is now available with new trim options, and a “Bioweapon Defense Mode” cabin air filtration system borrowed from the Model X is now an option.

To decrease battery fill-up times, an upgraded 48-amp charger has become standard equipment.

Tesla spent the winter offering a limited time, 36-month lease that got you into a base Model S 70 for $698. The price of a 70D is now $853/month for 36 months, with $6,548 due at signing. Owning the Tesla that made electric driving seem less than crazy is still not a cheap proposition.

Now, back to that face. Is anyone else reminded of the 1954 Kaiser Darrin?

[Images: Tesla Motors]

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58 Comments on “Eyes Without a Face: Restyled Tesla Model S Revealed...”

  • avatar

    Advice to future owners.

    Clear bra.

    You’re welcome.

    • 0 avatar

      No kidding. That’s the one thing that I actually like about the mega-grille trend – less upright painted area on the front of the car to get obliterated by road debris.

      In my area they rush out during what is usually a minor winter weather event and spread salt and sand gratuitously. Unfortunately the ‘sand’ contains quite a bit of large pebble sized pieces and then even becomes a hazard when a winter storm whips up a 30 MPH wind. A full-on sand blasting remains a possibility into spring on a couple highways here.

      I had a full front-clip 3M wrap applied to two of our cars when new and it works really well. The third that didn’t is a pitted mess, but 8 years on I’m not too worried about it.

    • 0 avatar

      Not all Tesla owners are hot women, you know! Ain’t nobody wants to see your average Tesla owner in a see through garment.

  • avatar

    They could have done this much more elegantly, this and the 3 look like the bass from the fusion front end closed its mouth. That flat spot just looks cheap.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1995-1999 Oldsmobile Aurora still retains the crown as the best-designed grille-less front end!
      Today I meet drivers who think the “AURORA” is brand new. They have no idea what an Oldsmobile is or was.

  • avatar

    The white one reminds me of a beluga whale.

  • avatar

    Absolutely love it! I hope this is a sneak peak at the corporate face we’ll see on the Model 3!

  • avatar

    Looks odd without a grill. Filling in the unneeded opening should of been better done.

  • avatar

    As I commented in the earlier 3 reveal…it looks like the designer of the robot in The Day The Earth Stood Still had left over designs.
    It is rather plain and ugly considering all the cool grill-less options available.

    And in fact they are no grill-less futuristic than the Beetle has been for over 50 years.

    All this being does looks less idiotic than on the 3.

  • avatar

    On one hand, it’s good to see someone putting an end to the “I will eat your children” grille.

    On the other, this isn’t great.

    • 0 avatar


      I agree.
      Although to me, this was the best Alien design in movie character look in maybe forever and copied since. I don’t understand how that gaping Alien look is being so accepted by the car professional.especially on the smaller cars.
      It does almost work on the larger SUV…but not he little guys.
      I used to think Audi Big Bass was getting outa hand…but Lexus….way bad.

      • 0 avatar

        I dunno. I guess I’m sorta lucky that most of my commute is generally filled with late model, often upscale iron.

        This will stand out in the sea of Hyundais,BMWs, and Benzes even less than it used to.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Future option:

    Make your Model S look like the old (and to observers, better looking) for $10,950.

  • avatar

    Strange looking Hyundai.

  • avatar

    I think something should be done with the front space, it looks incomplete with only smooth injection molded plastic across the front.

    • 0 avatar

      I want to see it with a license plate first. Like the 3, it might actually look better with a plate.

      • 0 avatar

        The only car I’ve ever owned that looked better with a front plate was a ’70 Eldo, and that was only because there was a massive hole in the front bumper for it.

        I’d rather pay a few tickets a year than put a front plate on anything I own – except the shop van.

        Are you wondering if it will hide/breakup the blandness?

        • 0 avatar

          I have a car with one of the modern, large black grilles. No complaints with the looks, but my state has white license plates.

          I paid for black vanity plates–totally worth it.

        • 0 avatar

          The 98-02 fourth gen Firebirds and Trans Ams had a great little molded area for license plates. If you didn’t have a front plate, it had a filler panel, but it looked nicely integrated into the front bumper, as opposed to the 93-97s which had an ugly snout bracket.

          The worst currently has to be the new Mazda 3. it makes that beautiful grille look buck-toothed.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    You now have a classic Billy Idol hit from the ’80s successfully implanted in your head.
    There is no need to be paranoid, we are in complete control.

  • avatar

    “I have no mouth, and I must scream.”

  • avatar

    It’s better than the 3, because it doesn’t *completely* look like a mouthless Keanu Reeves from The Matrix.

  • avatar

    I’m a fan. Looks great.

  • avatar

    “Grilles are so 20th century.”

    I present to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, the futuristic, ahead-of-its-time …

    Ford Contour.

  • avatar

    Not trying to be funny or controversial, but if they’re going to go organic with the design why does it look so much like a car with an internal combustion engine? I’m guessing partly safety (crumple zones) and partly marketing to our expectations of what a car should look like? Just wondering out loud.

    • 0 avatar

      Because otherwise you end up with a strange egg-like car that resembles a Mitsubishi iMiev. Proportions are everything, and at $100k, they better be perfectly inoffensive and quietly sophisticated.

      • 0 avatar

        But your idea of proportion is based on 100+ years of evolution of cars housing internal combustion engines. The long front on the S satisfies your sense of proportion, but it is probably not organic design since it houses mostly nothing.

        I raise this because Tesla is saying no to fake grills, which is a stand for organic design. But at the same time the shape of the car mimics that of a car with a V8 or V12 under the hood.

        BTW, remember your “egg” comment, because that’s what the transport pods will be someday. :)

  • avatar

    Better than the 3 – at least it’s not a flattened area begging for a pink mustache.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    As an Audi owner and fan, I don’t know how I’ll feel about cars without a big-ass grille. Looks okay on this Tes!a, I guess, but it would look so much more aggressive with a large grille….especially a flat black grille on a white car.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen that nose on a Mercury Cougar…

  • avatar

    I kind of like it. For all the suspicions I have that Tesla is hype and will soon be bankrupt, this finally makes sense; the design communicates “electric vehicle”, “this is the future” and “luxury” well.

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve seen out-there styling on other green vehicles to separate themselves from ICE vehicles. Most (Leaf, 1st gen Volt, i3) fail.

      It seems Tesla noticed the trend to oversize grilles and saw that as an opportunity for a differentiator. It’s not a bad idea since EVs don’t need radiators like an ICE.

      The look is odd, but I think mostly because we’re now used to large grilles, but it isn’t offensive (to me, anyway) like so many other EVs.

  • avatar

    A Porsche 911 looks something like this if you remove the rego plate and nobody complains that they look silly.

  • avatar

    This can’t last.
    Yes, it is distinctive but only because the grille-less look is uncommon. The problem is stylists need elements to style in order to lend character to a model. I think this is why the hidden headlight craze lasted only so long in the 60-70’s. Differentiation and character are essential in car styling.
    I also think this is the reason that pointy front ends keep trending back to more vertical ones. Pointy cars all start looking the same. Stylists need a vertical-ish canvass upon which to shape and position different elements. Grilles are a rich source of variability to play with.
    Want to give stylists nightmares? Mandate hidden headlights and no grilles on cars.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Here’s a source for a $70 grille ($5 reserve) for your (my) Model 3:

    Personally, I really like the hex mesh.

  • avatar

    The batteries on an EV need to be cooled. Battery temperature management is a critical factor in EV design. Some have faulted Nissan for going with a relatively simple air-cooled design, leading to problems in high and low temp climates. My impression is that of the EV makers, GM did the best job with battery management in the Volt. However they do it, though, the batteries need to be cooled and battery powered cars will still need vents and ducts to cool those batteries.

    Tesla moved the opening to below the bumper, just as Raymond Loewy’s studio did with the Studebaker Avanti, which also has no traditional grille.

    In passing, I’ll note that I have a harder time distinguishing early electric cars, Detroit Electrics, Bakers, Milburn, and Rauch & Lang, from each other, than I do with gasoline (or steam) cars from the same era. All the early electrics seem to have the same grille-less, front end with a vertical panel that slopes forward at the bottom.

    Remember, a lot of early car companies built rolling chassis that had bodies, from the cowl back, built by coachbuilders. The shape of the radiator grille was one of the few ways an automobile manufacturer could establish brand identity. Packard’s ox-yoke grille is one famous example. The Franklin car company was distinguished by making air-cooled engines long after most of the industry had moved to water-cooling (yes, I know all engines are ultimately air-cooled). For many years they featured round grilles that corresponded to the cooling fan and ducting on their engines. When Herbert Franklin decided to go with a conventionally styled grille in the 1920s, chief engineer John Wilkinson, who founded the company with Franklin’s backing and had designed the Franklin engines, resigned.

    • 0 avatar

      @Ronnie Schreiber: the batteries need to be cooled and battery powered cars will still need vents and ducts to cool those batteries.

      Ronnie, it’s not just the batteries that need to be cooled. The motor, inverter, and charger on the Leaf are liquid cooled. My experience with the latest battery chemistry in the Leaf has been good. I’ve made non-stop 50 mile trips in sub-zero temps without a problem. The new chemistry seems to be happiest at 70 to 80 degrees with really amazing range at those temps. Only experienced 100_degree temps a few times, but didn’t have a problem. With 28k miles on the clock, I still have all twelve bars, so the health is good.

      Air-cooled means simplicity and lower cost for the pack. Personally, the packs I’ve done are air cooled (for robotics), but I’m not against liquid cooling. It’s one of those engineering trade-off dilemmas. Compared to the early Leafs, GM did a better job, but with the newer battery chemistry, Nissan may have the edge with it’s simpler and lower cost air cooling.

      • 0 avatar

        Also, the AC needs a place to dump heat.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Agreed on all points.

        Comparisons to the Volt are a bit unfair, however, since the Volt’s battery operates within a narrower charge-discharge range than the Leaf’s. Deep cycling is an enemy of lithium ion batteries.

        Tesla’s batteries don’t degrade nearly as fast as the old Leaf’s did, partly due to tighter thermal control, less deep cycling, and improved chemistry.

  • avatar

    Looks like a late model Corvair (’65-’69) with the front bumper off of it and modern headlights.

  • avatar

    Everything old is new again. Plenty of mouth breathers back in thE late 80’s and through the 90’S.

    Of course rocking 300 horsepower back then was serious business.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Tesla will kick off a new design trend away from the gaping maw which is so popular right now. Lexus and Audi are some of the worst modern offenders that way.

    I really liked the clean look of late 1980s Passat ( ) .

  • avatar

    Looks like Lightning McQueen.

  • avatar

    I’m a child of the late 80’s-early 90’s, where grille-less cars were all over the place, so I like this look.

    My favorite is probably the ’92 Crown Vic. The audacity Ford had to remove the grille from a car with such a hoity-toity name…that was great:

    I think this look would work on a great many cars with too-large bass mouths.

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