I’ll be frank, I’m not a massive fan of electric cars. Electric seems to be the way forward, as virtually every manufacturer is desperate to give an EV model in their range. However, I believe a world where we need to treat our cars like a mobile phone – I.E. charging them – doesn’t sound like much fun if you ask me. Mind you, it’s difficult to really knock something I’ve not tried.
So with that in mind, I was popped in to Tesla Heathrow to drive the Model X. I was originally meant to drive the Model S, but plans soon changed to the Model X, not that I was phased, as it now meant I could play about with those famous Falcon Wing doors. Step inside and it’s clear this is a different class of motoring. The centre console features no buttons – instead there’s a 17″ display screen and the driver gets treated to a lovely digital display. There are some buttons to be found in the cabin, but they are simple and easy to use.
I was talked through the plethora of settings and modes that can either be access via the large central screen – or the smaller display in front of the driver – and I have to say the technology was impressive. It even has a HEPA filter which can protect its occupants from a bio weapons attack! However, this all comes are a price – the Model X starts from £75,400, so it’s certainly not what you’d call cheap.
The model I was sat in however, was an eye-watering £106,000 thanks to added options such as seven seats, 20″ inch ‘Helix’ alloys and a subzero weather package to name a few. As well as the large displays, the inside featured white leather seats, dark headlining and plenty of glassware. I’m not a big fan of white leather in all honesty, but the seats themselves feel very premium and thankfully, they’re stain resistant.
The Model X normally comes with five seats, but this model had the optional seven seats, which mean you can of course fit more people in, but think carefully before ticking that option. The only reason I say that is because for two extra seats you will be paying a premium of £4,000. Yikes. Let’s move on from that shall we…
What’s It Like To Drive?
That is the burning question. This was the 90D model so I’m afraid there is no ludicrous mode to play about with, but the roads around the service centre weren’t exactly appropriate to try out this feature anyway, even if I did have it. Despite the slight lack in power compared to the P100D, the 90D still packs a fair punch. Its electric motors produce 371bhp with 656Nm of torque, meaning you’ll hit 60mph in an almost silent 4.8 seconds. This is mind boggling considering this is a large SUV that’s able to hit 60mph faster than most hot hatches.
The Model X will then continue its power surge (get it?) before topping out at a top speed of 155mph. Power is fed to all four wheels and it’s a full auto, so there is no worry about having to change gear. In fact, the driver’s door will even close for you when you press down on the brake pedal upon entering the car. The Model X also has the capabilities to drive itself, although we are yet a stage where this kind of functionality can be used on public roads, plus the model tested did not have this kind of software on offer.
It did however have autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, but considering a good amount of cars are able to offer this, it’s not groundbreaking. It does have cameras around the cars, which are able to tell you how close you are to the objects around you and this data gets fed the driver’s display, which gives you a pleasing representation of what’s nearby. The display can even tell you in inches how far away you are from hitting something, which makes it less daunting when you are trying to park a car of this size.
Back to the driving though, as you would expect the cabin is refined and because of the lack of a traditional engine, it’s quiet too. The car rides well and it’s a very comfortable place to be although the suspension does feel a little bit firm on bigger bumps and sometimes you can hear the springs at work. The steering has 3 modes – comfort, standard and sport – so you’re able to choose a steering weight that’s best for you. I rather like a heavier set up, so I selected sport, which gave a pleasing meatiness to the the wheel.
As we’re on the topic of steering, let me talk you through the handling. The roads around the service centre aren’t exactly the best to really get a proper feel of the handling, but from what I did experience, I was rather impressed. Of course there is a bit of body roll as it’s an SUV, but not as much as you might expect. The brakes have got a good stopping power to them and although the Model X is not going to be bought to tear up B roads, it does a pretty good job navigating corners, especially given its big, chunky body.
What About Range? I Need To Know The Range!
Ah yes, of course, the range. The 90D is able to offer a total of 303 miles of range, so it should be more than suitable for the majority of people’s daily driving. Tesla also offers supercharging should you need it, so you can charge the car from flat to full in 75 minutes and Tesla buyers can enjoy 400kWh (1,000 miles) of Supercharger credits each year. This does seem like a rather longer time, but 20 minutes to get to 50% is more reasonable. That’s still longer than one would spend in a petrol station though, even if you do feel compelled to peruse through the bargain bin CDs.
Last But Not least, The Falcon Wing Doors
No Model X test would be complete without mentioning those ‘look at me’ Falcon Wing doors. These have their good and bad points. Firstly it’s a very nice party piece and it’s a strong talking point of the Model X. They’re also not as impractical as you may think as they don’t take up a lot of space to open, so they’re still usable in tighter spots. They do however take a few moments to open and close, which is by no means a hardship, but when it’s pouring with rain you’ll like to ponder if it’s worth it. I also found them a bit fiddly to use when I was using the key fob, so my relationship with them is a little love/hate.
I’ve always been curious about Tesla, and thankfully I’ve now scratched that itch. Have I been converted? No I haven’t, but I’m very glad to had the opportunity to test one. It’s well made, packed with clever tech and very pleasant to drive, but the asking price is simply too much for me to swallow. Mind you, the Tesla is more a of a lifestyle rather than a car, but sadly it’s not my kind of lifestyle.