Jeremy Clarkson vowed never to drive a Tesla again after being sued for his controversial roadster review. But this week’s Grand Tour episode showed him blasting around in the Model X ─ and it seems the motoring journalist heavyweight was deeply impressed.
A decade ago Jeremy Clarkson made a review of the Tesla Roadster ─ the original car, not the forthcoming remake ─ that resulted in Tesla suing him for defamation for making the electric sports car look bad and fabricating a scene where it ran out of battery.
In fact, they sued twice (the second time with a revised case) and both instances were thrown out by the same judge.
After the ordeal, which Clarkson admitted caused sleepless nights, he vowed to never drive a Tesla again. In episode 10 of The Grand Tour, however, he points out that Tesla is about to surpass Volvo and therefore has become big enough car manufacturer for him to reconsider his stance.
And so The Grand Tour segment shows the ex-Top Gear host enjoying the Model X’s many secret features, including the ability to swap from the normal map view to Mars and the warp mode, which shows blurry stars like in Star Trek and other science fiction shows.
He also demonstrates the summon mode, which lets the Tesla drive to you on its own albeit over a short distance and in a straight line, and its ability to drive without any help on roads with white lines on either side using a feature known as Autopilot – a feature also available on the Model S saloon and smaller, cheaper Model 3.
In his usual style, there was a heavy focus on performance. To show just how ludicrously fast the 2.5-tonne Model X is, he races it against a 600bhp Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupe and it wins very comfortably. But then it would when 0-60mph takes 2.9 seconds and it can do 45-65mph in 1.4 seconds.
The negatives are relatively few and far between, with the price of the P100D model being the main issue. Oddly, Clarkson quotes a total of £156,000 despite the fact it seems that, with every conceivable extra, the configurator maxes out at £144,050 excluding an £850 regulatory fee.
You can, of course, buy the Model X 75kWh version that comes in at £73,600 before extras. But then the smaller capacity means 259 miles of range (NEDC) and 0-60mph takes an extra two seconds. It also tops out at 130mph, instead of the P100D’s 155mph.
Clarkson also mentions the Autopilot system can sometimes prove “discomforting”, which was his way of describing the fact it is anything but infallible. With that said, we also used the M4 motorway for testing and the Model S drove itself for more than 50 miles without any intervention from us.
Adding humour to the review (and to prevent further sleepless nights), Clarkson talks about the Tesla’s range with a group of lawyers in the car. He rightfully says that many different factors such as weather and driving style will reduce the range below the claimed 336 miles NEDC and that, at 2,271mm wide including the mirrors, some roads will be an issue.
Besides being an honest take on a car that, despite some quality issues and its substantial price, really is a pleasure to drive, you could see Clarkson was enthusiastic about it. A far cry, then, from when he tore apart Tesla’s first offering.
In our Tesla Model X review we admitted you could buy something as practical for less money, but concluded that: “You would struggle to find an alternative that gets as much attention (let alone a family wagon) and one that can reduce your annual fuel bill as substantially and make the school run as un-polluting. All while having up to seven seats and the straight-line performance of a McLaren P1.”
You can watch The Grand Tour on Prime Video, which costs around £8 or £79 a year (and that includes access to speedy Prime deliveries). The first few episodes missed the mark, but the show has since almost returned to former Top Gear top glory so we would urge you to check it out.
And, of course, tune into the BBC’s actual Top Gear, which returns on the 25th of February, to see former Recombu editor-in-chief, Rory Reid.