I have ordered my plaid S with the yoke.
Having said that, here are some thoughts.
- I have spent the last two days driving my car pretending I have a yoke, and not touching the top half of the steering wheel. I find it mildly annoying at best and dangerous at worst.
- Driving schools will correctly teach you that 10 and 3 hand positions allows for the most precise steering. Holding the yoke this way results in only half of your hands actually on the steering wheel which is tiring. It also means placing your hands over the touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, potentially inadvertently pressing all sorts of buttons.
- Driving schools will correctly teach you not to put "hand over hand" while turning the steering wheel. This is completely unavoidable with a yoke.
- While having turn signals and some controls on the steering wheel is beneficial because it allows you to activate those functions without moving your hands, having physical buttons is preferential because it allows you to feel the button without looking down, and also decreases accidental button pushes. Touch sensitive buttons look cool, but require you to look down to confirm that your hand is actually on the button. This negates the benefit of having the buttons on the wheel in the first place (other than having no stalks). It also increases accidental pushes, and no one wants to be that guy driving down the road, unaware that his turn signal is on.
- When the yoke is upside down during a turn, the buttons on the yoke are reversed. Up is down and left is right. While this seems obvious, it is dangerous. The left turn signal is now on the right and vice versa. Cars with gear paddles fixed to the steering wheel have the dangerous situation where the up-shift (on the right) is now the down shift which can cause the car to loose control if pressed at the wrong time and the car is downshifted during a turn causing a dangerous oversteer. In an emergency situation, muscle memory takes precedence.
- To emphasize the point further, in an emergency situation or an impending accident, grabbing at air, where the top of the steering wheel used to be could be fatal. Half a steering wheel means twice the chance of not being able to steer out of danger.
- Furthermore, a steering wheel with nobs on it has a good potential of getting caught on clothing or other objects when turning. This could inhibit or prevent a successful turn and cause accidents.
- While it is true that planes and formula one cars have a yoke, it is also true that they can’t make tight 90 degree turns either. They don’t back into tight parking spots at the supermarket. A pilot never ( and cannot) do a full lock to lock 5 rotations of the steering wheel to do a three point turn for example. This potentially could be solved by a speed sensitive steering algorithm, but would have to be quite extreme to compensate.
- The model S is expensive, and a large sedan. So the people likely to purchase it are likely to be older people who have money and have families. These are the people who are least likely to learn new tricks, or adopt gimmicks that might compromise comfort or safety.
Stop thinking about the yoke like a steering wheel. It’s not going to spin around 360 like a steering wheel. The amount of control it provides to the front wheels will be inversely proportional to speed. You won’t have to spin your wheel around to park. Heck, my model 3 is currently in my garage with an upside down steering wheel due to some last minute maneuvering. No more of that.