What the Tesla Model X gives you is quite amazing – space for up to seven, the highest of high tech and incredible acceleration – but you’d expect better quality in a car that costs this much
Its makers will tell you that the Tesla Model X is an SUV, but it’s basically people carrier version of the Model S. Like the S, this is also an electric car and it uses similar chassis, drivetrain and suspension components, but they’re wrapped up in a more practical body.
As such, it’s a unique car in today’s market, although the BMW X5 hybrid, Audi Q7 e-tron and Range Rover P400e are perhaps the closest.
None of them will turn heads like the Tesla Model X, though. From the party piece of the Falcon wing rear doors that are hinged at the top and lift up, to the 17-inch screen that takes up almost all of the centre console, there really is nothing else like it.
For the most part, it works pretty well, too. There’s plenty of room in the front seats for a couple of adults; and, thanks to the wide range of adjustment on the steering wheel and driver’s seat – all done electrically, of course – it’s easy for almost anyone to find a decent driving position.
You can order your Tesla Model X as a five-, six- or seven-seater, but whichever you choose, those Falcon wing doors make it fantastically easy for the rear-seat passengers to get in. And, once they’re in, they’ll have plenty of room. In the second row, all three (or two, in a six-seat cabin) seats are individual, and each can be adjusted independently of the others.
Admittedly, the mechanism for the doors slightly reduces the headroom for the centre-seat passenger, but the wide body and flat floor mean that it’s possible to sit three adults abreast in comfort. If you’re taking rather younger passengers, it couldn’t be easier to use the ISOFIX mounts, which are tucked away under a leather flap that’s held in place by Velcro when they’re not in use.
If you have a seven-seat Tesla Model X, it’s easy to get into the very back, too, because the outer rear seats slide out of the way. And, even once they’re slid all the way back again, there’s enough room for adults in the rearmost seats. In other words, this is a genuine seven-seater.
As with many seven-seater cars, the Tesla Model X boot isn’t that big when all seven seats are upright, but it’s big enough to take a couple of small suitcases. And, by virtue of having no engine in the front, the car also has an extra ‘boot’ under the bonnet. This has a capacity of almost 200 litres and will take a set of golf clubs.
For the maximum load capacity, you can fold down all five rear seats, although this is one of the few things that you have to do manually. The folding mechanism isn’t controlled electrically.
Given how expensive this car is, the build quality and the standard of fit and finish are really nothing like as good as they should be
However, it’s not all good news inside. For a start, the quality isn’t as good as you would expect on a car that can cost well over £100,000 – and nowhere near as good as you would find in a Mercedes or Audi.
On top of that, while the huge touchscreen looks amazing – particularly when using the Google mapping in full-screen mode – it’s not that great to use when you’re on the move. It’s quite literally a hit-and-miss-affair when you try and do something as simple as adjust the temperature of the climate control. It would be easier if the car had more conventional controls.
Happily, driving the car isn’t as tricky. In fact, it’s even easier in a Tesla than in most electric cars, as it’s ready to go as soon as you open it and get in. You don’t have to press or turn anything. Driving around town is particularly easy, as you can set the regenerative brakes to work at a level that allows you to drive with just one pedal for most of the time. That’s because the car slows so much when you lift off the accelerator that there’s no need to use the brakes.
Beyond the city limits, it’s the performance that grabs your attention. Even the least powerful version – the 75D – can get to 60mph in less than five seconds, so any Tesla Model X is a very quick car. And, the quickest of all is the P100D, which is as quick as some supercars. In fact, the acceleration is almost addictive and every so often you find yourself accelerating flat out just for the hell of it.
Well, you do until you realise how bad an effect that has on the charge in the battery – and, therefore, how far you can go. The range depends on which model you buy, but you as long as you show some degree of self-restraint, you should be able to get at least 200 miles per full charge from any version of the Tesla Model X.
The downside is that it can take a while to recharge, especially if you charge from a standard domestic three-pin socket. But, if you can use one of the growing network of Tesla superchargers, you can add about 170 miles of range in about half an hour. And, running an electric car is much cheaper than running an equivalent petrol or diesel model.
Among the other advantages of the Tesla Model X is the wide range of autonomous technology available, while the car handles better than you would expect of something so big. And, every model is four-wheel drive, giving it some ability off-road.
But, whoever’s driving and wherever you’re driving, you can’t fail to notice that the car feels the bumps a bit more than alternative SUVs. On top of that, the Tesla Model X also can’t tow as much as equivalent SUVs.
But you’ll appreciate the high level of equipment in the Model X. All cars have LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, reversing camera, keyless entry and that huge 17-inch infotainment system. And, although the Tesla Model X hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, the similar Model S scored a full five stars when it was, which bodes well for this car.
Ultimately, it’s easy to see the attraction of the Tesla Model X, and this is one of the few electric cars that will make genuine petrolheads stop and think. But, it’s also impossible to overlook some of its shortcomings, which is why it isn’t more highly recommend.