Opinions on Interior finishes being cheap?

I might get a lot of backlash for this comment but is it me or do some of the interior features seem cheap and out of wack compared to how well designed the rest of the car is?

1. What is with the seats...Get me some sportier seats that replicate BMW's sport seats...the leather looks cheap in my opinion and especially the back seats make me feel short changed as there's very little luxury feel...

2. Interior door panel - i just don't get the feel of it. I want a sport luxury sedan and i feel like it's a Kia with an attempt to distract the lower quality with sleek design...but i can't get past feeling it with my hands and thinking cheap...

3. Middle console- Are we all just waiting and waiting forever for this third party after market maker to provide consoles for the middle? This is an obvious knock that people talk about all the time so i won't spend too much time on it, but the whole middle console between passenger/driver just plain sucks.

All this being said, i love the drive, love the concept of performance electric and I'm getting the car...I just wish that with such a flawless design on the exterior, that the interior could've met and complemented the car better. Screen is awesome (although i think the UI needs serious work)...i just have to accept that i may be paying for some aftermarket cosmetic upgrades that help with the seats and middle consoles...


Yes, that was also my feeling when I first saw & test drove the Tesla.
The interior of my 5 year old Coventry-made XJ8L is far more luxurious, and although I do not demand that level of cosseting, I did expect the Tesla interior to have a richer "feel" to it.

That said, however, it is still a superb car and was a joy to drive.
Give Tesla some time - after this first year's run, I'm sure you'll see subsequent models meet and even exceed the competition's standards - and all this with an ELECTRIC car !!
If you haven't already, you may want to look into buying Tesla stock (TSLA) - even if you aren't sure of its long-term future, you could make some decent returns over the next year or two, what with Tesla also being a Mercedes and Toyota supplier (of course do your due diligence first!) Disclosure:- I have been steadily adding to my holdings, although the price is now near its highs)

Backlash - I like the interior, it fits the car. Mo' stuff doesn't mean mo' better, IMO. I don't want a car with a high performance propulsion, modern interface, aerodynamic exterior, and Victorian interior.

I agree with Cattledog. For us one of the big attractions of the Tesla is its modern design and its clean lines - both the exterior and the interior. Your complain is what I consider a huge plus for the Tesla:-)

I also agree with Cattledog. Went to the Philadelphia auto show a couple weeks back and sat in all high end stuff, Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus, etc. Their interiors all seemed dated like their drive train. That said, the seats in the Lexus were far more comfortable.

I concur with cattledog,carefree, JH - I prefer the simplicity - less is more! The fit and finish on my "S" is great, I have one minor annoyance, my front passenger floor mat did not come with plastic grippy at the top so the mat likes to flop down.

Ultimately, I will purchase a center console from TM or a third party. I took the car over to my friend who restores, paints and repairs fine cars. He flipped at the fit and finish and the way it drove.

The one feature (that I originally questioned) that everyone flips for are the door handles. Every night I am amazed at just plugging in the car. Wow, this is simply a great car.

It's all good for me-- Clean lines on the inside that are easy to keep clean.

My daughter bought last week a kia pro_Cee'd, and the interior looks damn good!;-)
the interior of the Tesla could be better, but I like it.
I do worry about the quality of the leather and probably I choose go for the cloth seats.

I like the minimalist interior, but agree with the need for a center console.

My gripe is about a design flaw that Tesla seems hesitant to address. MANY owners have noted that the leather is fraying on the seat post. / B-pillar on the drivers side. EVERY car that has been in a showroom for any period of time has rips in the leather as a result of people rubbing the pillar on entry and exit.

Our options appear to be:

1. VERY gingerly get into the car each time you enter and exit.
2. Fabricate a leather or fabric patch and glue it in place.
3. Fabricate a plastic or aluminum cover to protect the vulnerable edge
4. Use gaffers tape to protect the edge and change the tape any time that it starts to wear.
5. Ride around with a car that looks like $hit.

6. Insist that TM come up with an attractive and sturdy solution for their DESIGN ERROR.

As an early adopter, I anticipated a few glitches and am very pleased that there have been so few.

BUT as an owner and a stockholder, I can't fathom having cars on the road and in SHOWROOMS that are ragged due to poor design. Our service rep has told me that it is not a warrantable repair and suggested that I reinforce the area with clear nail polish and/or gaffers tape.

Ca'mom Tesla . . . Are you kidding?


I couldn't agree with you more. I've been following this site and the teslamotorsclub site closely for quite awhile and your opinion is shared by many. Just had my first test drive last week and like everyone else I'm amazed by the performance and exterior design. I like the modern, minimalist design of the dash but in my humble opinion everything behind the wheel, dash, and nav/screen seems fairly average especially the quality of the leather seats.

I've been invited to configure but have decided to defer at this point. Ultimately that decision will cost me $5k (price increase and evaporated CA rebate funds) but I'm optimistic I can generate that in my TSLA stock and the market over a year. I did inquire about improvements and this was the response by Tesla:

At this point, there are no official plans to make any modifications to the Model S. Unlike most auto manufacturers, we do not make changes based on what ‘year model’ the car is. I have heard about the possible development of an optional center console, but there is no guarantee that it will be produced. New colors in the future are possibility, however we have no current plans for adding any. No backup/blind spot sensors or perforated seats will be added. Please let me know if you have further questions.

I'm with cattledog.

I'm sorry - did you not look at the car in the store before buying it? The whole design is about minimalist.

This was the sort of weighing of options I was considering before throwing down this kind of money.

I guess your thinking was I don't like it but I'll buy the car anyway?

I assume people complaining about things like this are comparing it to super-luxury sedans that happen to have a similar price. I don't see things should be put in the same category just because they have the same price -- do people expect a Ferrari to have similar interior to a Rolls Royce just because they cost about the same?

The Model S is really its own category -- it has some features that are far in advance of what you can get on any other car no matter the price, and in some areas it doesn't have things you could get on a $20k car. If it isn't what you want, then don't buy it.

Any company, but especially a startup, has to make hard choices about what to include in their products. They can't please everybody, and if they try you wind up with something that actually pleases nobody. They made their best guess of what they thought people would buy (also influenced by what Elon and others wanted) -- if that product meets your needs then buy it, and if not don't. If successful, over time they will add more products to address the desires of groups of customers who were left out of the initial products, but I think it will be a while before they go after the ultra-luxury segment.


I think the design is fine but a lot of people with luxury car experience think the leather is sub-par.

I'm going to guess that top quality leather is non-trivial to procure. It might take some time for Tesla to line up this end of its supply chain. I would guess that the priority was on mechanical parts suppliers in order to assure reliability and so on.

It's also easier (less subjective) to test and come up with metrics for mechanical and electrical parts than for interior fabrics or leather.

If Tesla is working with Mercedes on a new Mercedes model this might give them some further insight into how luxury brands approach interior finishes.

I'm sure it will get solved. As teething issues go, it's a minor one and it shouldn't really affect anybody who is serious about the car. But I think it's totally valid to mention it; that's how Tesla will know what to improve.

danielccc +1

Interior not quite up to snuff when compared to the stunning exterior styling, but plenty good enough.

I should be the LAST person saying this, however, after having my MS for a few months now, I am actually starting to like the open front center area. Don't get me wrong, IF and WHEN an aftermarket center-console is made, I seriously consider it. However, with that said, I have come to the realization that it is hard to reach over to the passanger floor area from the drivers seat in this car (it's VERY wide), and if you place something there of any bulk, it will roll all over the place while driving, because this car is SO stupid fast! When I place tempoary stuff in open center area, it is easy to grab and be on my way, and doesn't roll all over the place. Also, when my wife is with me, it's much easier for her to just place her purse there, over where she would normally have to place it (at her feet).

Otherwise, the interior does take some getting use to. It breaks all the rules of a typical luxury ICE auto. However, once you start getting use to it, it starts changing your mind on how cars should be designed. Yes, it could be better, however, it was never designed to be the same as all the others. It's meant to break the rules in all ways, and oddly, I find I don't miss anything that I had on most of my former luxury ICE sport sedans.

Thanks Mark29 for the heads up on the wear point by the door. With over 3000 miles, the threads are dirty and the leather is starting to wear. The dirt is difficult to clean in the area, especially with the white Signature interior. Covering the location is a must to prevent further wear and discoloration due to normal entry and exit from the drivers seat.

This is the type of problem one expects to start seeing after a year or two, but not this soon. All owners should be notified to take corrective action ASAP to keep their vehicles in great condition. A replaceable thin clear custom molded shield should be manufactured to protect the area at each of the four doors.

When I first saw the interior, I thought that they really missed the bus. The initial prototypes had a super-cool suede wrap-around the screen, and the production interior looked, well, hurried.

Now that I've had the car for a month, I really get the interior. Modern and minimalist. I love that there's no center console. I actually use the glovebox.

+1 TikiMan

I really like the interior. We have the gray leather which is very light and a nice contrast to the black. Ask me in 8 years how the interior holds up.

@tranman... No doubt they could have done better by luxury car standards and I generally agree with you. Although everyone has their own opinions about this, I think the designers first tried to make sure they met the weight/range requirements, then schedule, price and last luxury. There are a quite a few missing features and comforts.

Having said that, I will accept that there areas for improvement and the rest of this car over ANY other car out there right now. It isn't even close. Been waiting since 2006 for a Tesla and kept wondering if someone else would beat them to the punch. At this point Tesla has a gun and everyone else is still trying to figure what these darned opposable thumbs are for. And even though I love tesla I wouldn't have hesitated to jump ship if someone did it better first.

MarkZ: I also thought about a clear plastic screen to protect the wear area, but any adhesive used to affix the screen would further damage the leather . . . and a clear screen would have to be installed prior to damage or it would just display the wear & tear.

I gotta think that this is a real issue, especially for the Tesla stores, because people are in and out of the drivers seat many times an hour.

+1 Cattledog
I too love the lines of the interior of the doors, and the center console works great for putting my handbag (better than any other cars I have driven), so I don't have to put it on the passenger seat or floor behind my seat.
I just noticed a few tiny scratches on the inside of driver side door where my left elbow would go, have not looked to see if any other places is showing wear.

Is your elbow that sharp? 8-0 ;)

Mark29: Just applied Glad brand "Press 'n Seal" sealing wrap. It's easy to stretch over the leather corner at the door pillar and the Griptex technology holds it tight without excessive adhesive. Carefully trim off the excess with scissors after stretching it over the corner. The matte plastic wrap is more reflective than the leather, but it is worth a try. I am more concerned over wear and cleaning than how it looks with the clear covering.

Using a carpet color hand towel works to extend the life of the floor mat or rear seat carpet area. Absorbent in rainy weather, they easily remove for shaking or washing. Just another way to keep the Tesla Model S looking good. Keeping the towel in place does require occasional readjustment, a perfect time to first shake the dust and dirt from the towel. It really pays off when there is grass or mud on the shoes.

Great comments! Points of clarification from my side as the original poster...

1. I do not have my car yet, but anticipate delivery of my 40 kWh in April/May. I am committing to it even though my displeasure with some of the finishes because i feel the car is a revolution and exterior design outweighs the downsides.
2. I have been a BMW owner for over 10 years and unfortunately have compared my comments and expectations to that. I am an avid Luxury sport sedan enthusiast and am a critical judge of the competition...

That being said,

I really appreciate and understand the insight from people discussing how Tesla "prioritized" and did not intend to make this car luxury. And by luxury, i'm really talking about the QUALITY of the finishes...not really the design.

I am OK with the simplistic and modern design (with regards to door panels and center console since it will be added option in future) only complaint is the quality in the materials used and the design of the rear seats (headrests are stupid in my opinion and combo of no pull down arm rest)...

In the end, people will always find a way to critique perfection. I am excited and committed to my purchase...I am venting my displeasure with the "cosmetic and quality" of the finishes simply to vent (also probably cause i've been spoiled by German engineering) and possibly raise awareness that I feel these quality items are simple fixes that can really help capture a lot of the market that people are hesitant to buy because of. (we're spending 80K average on the car and this is such a simple addition to have to capture the luxury market...)

Thanks for all the input everyone.

I'm really tired of the whining about lack of center console with twenty compartments for your phone, change, sunglasses, CDs, etc. I'm glad the center area is designed as it is. It has sides so my sunglasses and phone don't slide under the seats, and it fits my briefcase or backpack, and my wife's purse. It is a lot more practical and flexible than having a a bunch of small compartments

I am with Tranman. I am not talking about simplicity and design. The major issue is QUALITY of leather of the seats and doors. It's unacceptable in the car of this price. You can argue about design, center console or headrests. But leather quality - it's something that TM can change without big problems.

The reaction I have gotten from my passengers upon seeing the inside is not dissappointment.

I like the way it looks. It's modern looking.

As for the door panels the interior materials, if you have uplevel seating and trim, isn't everything basically leather? It looks great to me.

I get that some people are expecting a Merc-level interior but we're primarily paying for the technology (read: batteries) and not the interior. I don't get how people don't see that...

Agree with Tranman. Quite excited about the car, but I ordered with only the 40 kwh battery because I think both technology and interior quality could improve with the next generation so I might want to trade-in at that point. I'm missing out on the Superchargers, but they won't really cover my area for the next few years anyway.