Switch drag mode to ON. Wait for the “Peak Performance” indicator to light up. Press the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time. Feel the suspension lower the nose into a cheetah stance. Release the brake pedal.
boom. I’ve driven a few powerful cars in my life, but none kicked me like the Tesla Model S Blade. In the time it took you to read the opening paragraph with the manufacturer’s instructions on how to activate the special acceleration mode, we managed to accelerate to more than 200 km/h and start braking before we reached the end of the abandoned south runway. The stars that blur into thin lines that we see in the movies. “Plaid” (fabric in Hebrew) was called in the space parody “Spice Balls”, and that’s where the official name of this supercar came from.
Fashionably late, ten years after its launch, the Model S begins to hit the roads of Israel. In 2023, Tesla is already quite a common sight on Israeli roads, with nearly 12,000 cars on the road, but the S has a place of honor in the company’s model range. It’s not just the price or being the most powerful car you can buy in Israel. This is mainly because it was the first car that Musk’s company developed from scratch, which a few minutes after the start of production was already purchased for espionage purposes by the old car manufacturers. I wasn’t there in the room, but from familiarity with the streetcars they produced back then, the Model S was so advanced, it looked to them like something built by aliens.
Ten years later it already has competitors such as the Porsche Taycan and the Audi Itron GT twins and the Mercedes EQE. But the Model S also got stronger and underwent its first significant facelift last year. The design remains almost the same, but the German competitors are more special. The door handles still pop out when the owner approaches, an aerodynamic element that has since been copied by other manufacturers. The seat is low, as part of a design that achieved an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.21.
The driver’s environment is very clean in its design, there is a huge multimedia screen (17 inches), which concentrates the majority of the vehicle’s operation, and even the transmission of the gears, the turn signals and the blinker activation have become buttons on the steering wheel. What else is there is a separate digital dashboard for the driver, which also displays the navigation instructions. So convenient and so lacking in Model 3.
And there is the steering wheel. In the facelift a year ago, the Model S switched to a steering wheel similar to that of an airplane. Yoke, Tesla calls him. It looks futuristic, but it’s a problematic gimmick: at city speeds and in parking lots when you need to make a few turns of the steering wheel, the hands have no way to make the move continuous and round. It’s good that Tesla recently announced that it will bring back the standard steering wheel as an option.
The quality is higher than that of the Model 3 in general, but there is no sense of the demonstrable wealth of the electric Mercedes, but a more minimalist atmosphere in Volvo style.
The space is excellent in the front and back, where another screen awaits the passengers, which, to the delight of the younger generation, also shows material from Netflix. The floor is flat, and there is no problem seating three in the back, and there is a huge trunk, 700 liters, and a useful five-door structure like in the Skoda Octavia in the back – including another small compartment below it, and another 150 liters in the front compartment.
The equipment includes a huge panoramic sun window, leather upholstery, a stereo with 22 speakers, a 360-degree parking camera, and a unique road camera with a central service, which records every contact or passerby who approaches the car while it is parked. Three engines are responsible for a power of 1,020 hp, something that was known until recently only in sports cars for the track. Even a 100 kWh battery is still rare today.
There is a choice between three engine modes, Chill, Sport and Blade, when already in Sport the view starts to blur in front of your eyes when you press the pedal to the floor. How fast is she? For the acceleration test, we were joined by a Tesla Model 3 Performance, the fastest model of the 3, with 3.3 seconds to 100 km/h, a figure that most Ferraris and Lamborghinis do not know how to provide. When the S was in sport mode, the little sister was slightly faster. But As soon as I switched to the Plaid it suddenly felt like a Toyota Corolla.
Tesla promises a range of 600 km – I managed to achieve a consumption of about 420 km in practice. Anyone who manages to drive this vehicle without the plaid mode and without occasionally enjoying its acceleration will be able to pass the 500 km mark, but for that you need the self-control of Mahatma Gandhi. Model S is also equipped with air suspensions that allow it to be lower and faster in the plaid mode , or raise it at landmarks where deceleration strips are located. The result is very good ride comfort even with 21″ rims like the test car, and correcting a weakness of the Model 3.
With dual-wheel drive, a width of almost 2 meters, and the ability to control the transfer of power to each wheel individually, the Model S has excellent road holding, with a slight tendency to controlled oversteer. But what she lacks is sensations from the steering wheel in turns. Bottom line, the Model S will always be remembered in automotive history as the first car to show that an electric car can be desirable. Although Porsche and Audi can compete with it in handling and Mercedes in luxury, it still offers capability and character that no competitor has cracked. So as Eitan Stiva said, who knows what acceleration is from his years as a fighter pilot and his flight into space, if you can afford one, the Model S is definitely a recommended car.