The Model X marks Tesla’s second major launch. Based on the Model S hatchback, it is a fully electric SUV with show-stopping Falcon Wing rear doors and a range from a single charge of up to 350 miles in official test cycles.
As with the Model S, it is available in a range of power outputs, with each upgrade resulting in increased range and performance. Tesla’s hope is that this electric SUV is all a family could ever wish for from their car, and as ever offers a range of charging options, from plugging in at home to using one of its superchargers, which can take the battery from empty to an 80 per cent charge in just 40 minutes.
Two boots, and room for up to seven people
The Model X can be ordered with five, six or seven seats. Either way the second row benefits from lots of legroom and easy access thanks to what Tesla calls “Falcon Wing” rear doors. These double-hinged doors lift up and out at once and feature sensors that prevent them from hitting anything nearby. Slightly slow to open they might be, but they do also provide a wide and tall space to climb into the car (provided there’s room for them to open fully), which combined with second row seats that glide out of the way on electric motors makes access to the rearmost seats easy.
Although there’s enough head room in the third row for a six-foot tall adult, legroom is restricted, making them only really suitable for children.
With all three row of seats in place you still get enough boot space for a few shopping bags, helped by a removable false floor. Fold the rearmost seats down and the Model X offers a large rear load area, although it is ultimately compromised by its sloping rear windscreen, and the second row seats don’t fold at all. There is, however, another storage space under the front bonnet sufficient to carry an overnight bag (there’s no engine to worry about, remember).
Up front the glovebox is slim, but you do get two large centre cubbies and door pockets. There’s also lots of headroom, while a windscreen that arches up over the driver’s head makes the interior feel light and airy.
Avoid the biggest wheels
The Model X is based on the same platform and battery technology as the Model S hatchback, so it’s no surprise that it’s equally as quiet to drive. There’s barely a whine from the electric motors as you accelerate, leaving just a bit of wind and tyre noise to deal with, neither of which is excessive.
So far we’ve only tested the Model X on 22-inch wheels, which make the ride rather too firm. Opting for smaller wheels would likely solve this, because the standard air suspension otherwise does a good job of keeping the car settled on UK roads.
The seats are very comfortable, and offer good support for long journeys.
Dashboard layout 8/10
Hi-tech and easy to use
The dashboard in the Model X closely resembles what you’ll find in the Model S, and is thus suitably different from the norm. The first thing you’ll notice is the huge 17-inch tablet-style touchscreen, which is used to control most of the car’s functions. It works beautifully, with the satnav taken care of by Google Maps, music played through online streaming services, and the controls for charging and heating laid out in a logical fashion.
There’s another TFT display for the dials, which again presents information in a very clear fashion, and the overall quality of the fixtures and fittings is moving closer to what you’d expect of a premium marque. As it stands BMW, Mercedes and Audi still build plusher interiors, but thanks to the quality of technology on offer it’s unlikely Tesla owners will feel short-changed.
Easy to drive 6/10
Visibility and size hold it back
Rear visibility is poor to the point that it’s barely worth looking over your shoulder when reversing. Instead, most will rely on the built-in sensors and excellent rear-view camera, which projects a widescreen image on to the central touchscreen.
Large rear windows do thankfully make it easier to check for cars in your blind spots before changing lanes on the motorway.
As with many big SUVs it’s also impossible to see where the Model X’s bonnet ends, plus of course it’s a wide car (wider, indeed, than the equivalent BMW or Range Rover). However, the steering is accurate enough to place the car confidently on the road, and the performance of the electric motors is easily sufficient to make overtaking a breeze, no matter what power output you opt for.
Don’t forget that because you’ll be driving an electric car you won’t have any gears to worry about, and even much of the slowing down is taken care of by the regenerative braking. Four-wheel drive will also appeal to those who live in areas that regularly get snow, but this is still no off-roader.
Fun to drive 7/10
Weight holds it back, but it’s still hugely quick
Even lower-powered 75D version of the Model X offer a very strong kick of acceleration, and by the time you’ve moved up to the 90D or 100D the performance becomes quite comical; this is a large SUV that will out-accelerate many supercars away from the line.
Ultimately the Model X’s weight holds it back from feeling truly sporty, but the steering responds well (you can increase the weight of it via a Sport setting accessed via the touchscreen), the body doesn’t lean heavily in corners and it has a lot of grip.
Ultimately, the fun of driving a Model X comes from the speed of the car, rather than any sense of interaction with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still mightily impressive.
Limited data so far, but warranty is good
Tesla doesn’t build enough cars to be included in the JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability survey. While there were some faults reported with the Falcon Wings doors on early models in the US these are now said to have been addressed, and the Model S upon which this car is based generally fares well in reliability studies.
Tesla provides a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty on the car itself, while the battery warranty is eight years and unlimited mileage.
Fuel economy 10/10
Incredibly cheap to run for a car of its size and speed
Fuel economy is of course a misleading term for an electric car, but if we think about the range from a full battery charge (in normal driving you can expect a safe minimum of 180-280 miles depending on the model you choose - the range increases as you move up through 75D, to 100D), plus the low cost of recharging that battery whether it's at home overnight, at work or as part of a longer journey, the Model X offers unbeatable pence-per-mile costs for a large SUV, especially when you consider how powerful it is.
Note, however, that while Tesla’s Supercharger stations, which have been designed to facilitate long-distance travelling, were originally available for owners to use free of charge, there will in future be a cost associated with them.
Costs considerably more than hybrid SUVs
Due to the Model X being a fully electric vehicle it qualifies for the full £4,500 Government Plug-in Car Grant. Even so it costs thousands of pounds more to buy than what could be considered its closest rivals in the form of hybrid versions of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5, and is also more expensive to lease.
From April 2017 the Model X will also lose some of its tax advantage due to the supplement due on cars costing more than £40,000, which equates to £310 for each of the first five years of ownership. You will, however, be exempt from the London Congestion Charge, and company car drivers sold on the Model X’s combination of talents will also find it is usefully tax efficient for a car of its value and performance.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 12,500 miles, in addition to which Tesla can carry out online upgrades to the car. Tesla also offers fixed-price service plans, which allow owners to budget for running costs.
No crash test data yet, but should perform well
The Model X is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the Model S on which it is based scored the maximum five cars.
It gets the full complement of airbags and Isofix child seat mounting points, while having the weight of the batteries centred in the floor of the car also means it is more resistant to rolling over than other cars of its size. Tesla also boasts of its sophisticated air filtration system, which stops pollen, pollution and bacteria from entering the interior.
The Model X features an assortment of radars, sensors and cameras, so it’s no surprise to learn than an autonomous emergency braking system is also fitted to every model. In addition, Tesla offers an Autopilot function that in time (following software updates and relevant legislation) will offer full self-driving functionality.
Standard spec 6/10
Best warn the bank manager before ordering
All versions of the Model X feature satnav, DAB radio, LED headlights, the Falcon Wing doors and keyless entry. However, it is possible (and in some cases necessary) to spend a lot on optional extras. For example, upgrading from the standard five seats to seven costs £4,000, the full Autopilot system with self-driving is £8,000, the Premium Upgrades package including the advanced air filtration system £4,500 and so on.
Our favourite version
75D, list price £80,400
Options you should add: Metallic paint (£1,000), Seven seat interior (£4,000)
The Model X is a desirable car, and offers useful additional space over the Model X for big families. However, while its electric range and performance impress, it is also expensive compared with rivals. It’s a good electric SUV, then, but the Model S remains Tesla’s best car.
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