Tesla Model X SUV
"With cutting-edge looks and the technology to back them up, the Model X is one of the most impressive and family-friendly electric cars you can buy"
- Seven-seat practicality
- Huge performance
- Zero emissions
- Pricey to buy
- Build quality issues
- Limited charging points
With SUVs and off-roader style cars selling in bigger numbers than ever before, it’s hardly surprising that a company with the profile of Tesla should want to move into this fiercely competitive class – and with the Tesla Model X, that’s exactly what it’s done.
The Tesla Model X was the first all-electric SUV to go on sale. While the Tesla Model S sold very well to early adopters and those who fell in love with the car’s seductive styling, the Model X is sure to appeal to those who’d contemplated making the change to electric power, but didn’t want to lose out on SUV practicality or image. One thing’s for sure – when it comes to image, the Model X definitely draws its share of attention.
The curvaceous, egg-like outline of the Model X is distinctive enough, but its party-piece ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors are quite the show-stopper. Expect small crowds to gather whenever they open, as onlookers wait to see whether children or aliens emerge from the futuristic-looking machine. They’re not just a gimmick, either – they allow easy access from the front or rear of the car, opening fully in less space than conventional doors.
Elsewhere, the Model X is just as sleek as its Model S sister, although it shares that car’s strangely blank-looking nose treatment that detracts a little from its visual appeal. Generally, though, the Model X has novelty and a high-tech look in its favour, but we reckon the Volvo XC90 is a more handsome SUV.
Offering definite appeal, though, is the technology under the metal. We’ll get to the vital factors of range and charging time later, because the statistics that grabbed all the headlines for the Tesla Model S related to its sheer power and performance, especially the blisteringly quick Performance version. The Model X Performance uses the same dual-motor, four-wheel-drive power system and offers outrageous performance of 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, thanks to the car’s ‘Ludicrous mode’. In April 2020, this performance was enhanced further still with the addition of ‘Cheetah Mode,’ which puts the car into an optimal suspension setting for blisteringly quick standing starts.
That’s much faster than a Range Rover Sport SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5M can manage – in fact it's in the same league as the Ferrari 812 Superfast for acceleration – while carrying up to seven people, two more than any of its ultra-powerful rivals can accommodate.
When you’re not exercising its explosive get-up-and-go, the Model X, like its saloon counterpart, offers a maximum driving range between charges that eclipses what most rivals can reach – but the actual range available varies from model to model. These variations are due to the different battery capacities of the various models: the Standard Range uses a 75kWh battery while the Long Range and Performance models use a 100kWh battery, offering a claimed range of between 300 and 314 miles on a full charge.
In keeping with its hi-tech power system, the Model X interior is dominated by an enormous portrait-orientated touchscreen that controls much of the plentiful standard equipment, while a TFT display presents vital information to the driver. Motorway strain is alleviated by Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ semi-autonomous driving system.
Electric power rather suits a car designed around SUV lines, too – the compact nature of the Model X’s battery packs and electric motors mean every inch of interior space can be used, so it’s a very versatile family vehicle. Five adults can stretch out on the two main seating rows, while an additional third row offers plenty of room for two children.
This all adds up to a very compelling package, but it needs to when you look at the list price. Both versions of the Model X aren’t cheap and are now more expensive than ever before for two reasons: they no longer qualify for the government’s plug-in car grant (PiGC) and the entry-level Standard Range model, which used to cost from £75,000, has been discontinued. This leaves the Long Range model, which starts from around £87,000, while the Model X Performance with ‘Ludicrous Mode’ begins at over £100,000 – an amount that would see you behind the wheel of some very exotic conventionally fuelled cars indeed.
However, there’s no forgetting the low daily running costs, the impressive range on a full charge, the tax advantages for company-car users and the sheer sense of occasion found in driving this car. The Model X will be prohibitively expensive for many, but it may just be the most complete electric family transport solution yet devised.