Friday 03 March 2017
The Model X marks Tesla’s first entry into the flourishing SUV market. Despite an SUV having not been part of founder Elon Musk’s ‘master plan’, the Model X has arrived – hampered in part by delays in production.
Though it could have come as a rare mistake from Musk, the Model X is now finished and very much in production – ‘Falcon’ doors and all. Offering a huge amount of power from the twin electric motors, the Model X certainly has the hallmarks of other Tesla cars in the range, but it the success of the Model S means that it’s got a tough act to follow.
Tesla has made a name for itself by making electric vehicles cool. There are few cars on the market today that carry quite as much badge appeal, and it’s a reason why the Model S has enjoyed quite such high levels of popularity.
However, the car maker has struggled at times with reliability, with Early US versions of the Model X suffering with a wide variety of problems. However, it seems to have ironed out these creases, and our test car certainly felt well put together, even upon close inspection.
The materials used inside feel of a high quality, while our test car’s white leather seats certainly looked as futuristic as the exterior – though just how well they’d deal with daily use is up for argument.
In the SUV segment, space is a key factor. Thankfully, the Model X excels in this area, with plenty of headroom and a good amount of well-sized cubby holes dotted throughout the cabin. As the Model X is all-electric, it lacks a transmission tunnel too – making it more spacious for the centre passenger in the back.
The Model X can be specified with five, six or seven seats, with the latter two costing £3,000 and £4,000 respectively. However, that very rear row of seats is likely to be a squeeze for taller adult passengers.
One of the standout features of the Model X are its ‘Falcon’ doors. They’re doubled hinged so they can open in narrow spaces, and they feature built-in sensors which ensure that they don’t hit other objects. Once open, they make accessing the cabin easy thanks to their large opening aperture.
For those who haven’t yet experienced what it’s like to drive an electric car, getting behind the wheel of the Tesla Model X can feel a little strange. There’s no ‘on’ button, no key to turn and – crucially – no engine noise whatsoever. All you have to do is strap in and nudge the column-mounted gear lever into ‘D’.
Acceleration is instantaneous and brutal. Because of the nature of electric power, throttle response is immediate, and you don’t have to worry about being in the right or wrong gear either as there’s just one in the Model X. Regenerative braking harvests energy whenever you lift your foot off the accelerator and, though it’s a strange feeling to begin with, you soon get used to the sensation.
The Model S always handled well despite its bulk, and this was down to the car’s batteries being placed low down in the floorpan – keeping its centre of gravity low. It’s still the same with the Model X, but it doesn’t do quite as well at hiding its size, with lean more noticeable through faster corners.
Here’s where the job gets tougher for the Model X. The entry-level 75D Model X starts at just over £80,000. For this, you could have a well-specced Porsche Cayenne, or a top-spec Volvo XC90 with plenty of change leftover. The most expensive Model X starts at an incredible £129,200.
For those looking for space, luxury and a great view of the road ahead, there are certainly better value options on the market today. However, buying a Model X means that you’re buying into Elon Musk’s idea for a cleaner, greener future – it’s just that being part of this comes at quite the premium.
The Model X is aimed squarely at people with a large family who want to keep running costs low. Tesla has made electric vehicles desirable, and this is the driving force behind the Model X
Model: Tesla Model X 90D
Engine: Dual electric motors with 90kWh battery (371bhp, 440Nm)
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Performance: 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds, 155mph top speed
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