The Tesla Model X has rolled into town. Ben Griffin explores everything you need to know about the all-electric sports utility vehicle.
Tesla’s quest to show the world electric cars are the future continues with its latest creation, the Model X, a sports utility vehicle that is powered by electric motors, batteries and the hopes and dreams of eco-warriors everywhere. Here’s the lowdown on the Californian car.
So what’s so special about it?
The Model X is a ridiculously powerful, ridiculously fast, potentially ridiculously practical vehicle that costs less than a tenner to ‘fill up’ using a plug socket, home or public charger or one of Tesla’s super-fast Superchargers. It makes other SUVs look expensive to run.
What’s the Model X’s driving range?
That depends on whether you go for the standard or performance model. The 90kWh battery allows the performance-oriented Model X P90D to travel 250 miles before running out, while slightly less bonkers 90D can manage an extra seven miles. Your own mileage will vary, of course.
Adding to the efficiency is an active spoiler with three positions, each one designed to ensure the driver can see what’s going on in the back window while reducing drag, and a remarkably low drag co-efficient of 0.24, making it the most aerodynamic SUV in history.
How fast is the Model X?
Electric cars are usually pretty nippy at low speeds because they can produce full torque instantly and the Model X is no different. In P90D form that means 713lb/ft of torque ─ 213lb/ft more than a McLaren 650S. Yes, it makes a British supercar with two seats look inadequate.
0-60mph takes 3.8 seconds or, if you spec the ‘Ludicrous Speed Upgrade’, a staggering 3.2 seconds, which is supercar fast. Hypercar fast, even, and even more impressive when you consider it weighs 5,441lbs (2,467kg).
Meanwhile, the top speed of 155mph is ample and rare for an electric car although we doubt the battery would last long at full tilt. As for a quarter-mile, that comes and goes in 11.7 seconds.
Where does all that power come from?
Two electric motors – identical to the ones in the Model S – give the Model X its oomph, one with 503hp at the rear and one with 259hp at the front. Like on the dual motor Model S, the Model X supplies power to all wheels, which means plenty of traction so it can accelerate faster and handle slippery terrain.
To help with efficiency, the distribution of torque can be adjusted as and when needed between the front and rear wheels, so there’s no unnecessary wastage of energy if cruising slowly on normal roads.
What about the Model S touchscreen?
Fear not, all 17 inches of touchscreen infotainment goodness can be found in the dashboard between the driver and front passenger, meaning access to the same navigation, web browsing, external cameras and Autopilot autonomous driving features seen in the Model S.
Just how safe is it?
There’s been no official test just yet, but the Model S is one of the safest cars in the US and it earned itself a full five-star Euro NCAP rating. Tesla designed the Model X to be ‘the safest car on the road’, adding that its own crash tests indicate it will receive a full five-star rating in all test categories.
It hopes to do this with a large crumple zone that absorbs the energy in a high-impact collision, aluminium pillars reinforced with steel rails to protect occupants and the battery positioned in the floor to lower the centre of gravity and make it less likely to tip over.
Did we mention the automatic emergency braking made possible by a forward-looking camera, radar and 360-degree radar sonar sensors? Suffice to say, it should be a very safe car.
What about those crazy doors?
Rejoice, the Model X comes with Falcon Wing doors that open upwards. They only require 30cm of space and have sensors to ensure they don’t smash into things so can be used in a tight parking spot. Even more cool is the fact the driver door opens automatically before a finger is laid on it.
Besides looking cool, the Falcon Wing doors make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the second and third rows, and you less likely to smack your child’s head on the roof when putting them in a car seat.
Is it actually practical?
Seems that way. The Model S was a bit lacking when it came to the simple things like having door bins and places to store things and it seems Tesla has learned from this and given the Model X door bins as well as the usual front and rear trunk (no engine, remember?), three rows of seats for up to a total of seven adults (not five adults and two kids) and a tow capacity of 5,000lb.
How much will it cost and when can I buy it?
Tesla is yet to announce a specific timeline for the Model X, but it says deliveries will begin in the latter half of 2016. No word on a UK price just yet, unfortunately, but we know the US car is US$5,000 more than an equivalent Model S. So far just six have been delivered in the US, with the first going to Tesla Motors CEO and founder Elon Musk.