- Stunning acceleration off the line
- No gears mean uninterrupted oomph
- Less punchy – but still fast – at motorway speeds
The Model X’s twin electric motors deliver maximum performance to the front and rear wheels from the moment you accelerate. We tested the 90D, which promises 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, with a battery range of 303 miles on the approved NEDC European test cycle.
If anything, the 0-62mph figure undersells the immediate, relentless nature of the acceleration, which slams you back in your seat and – because there are no gears to change – is entirely linear and uninterrupted.
The 75D promises 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds (259 miles range), and while the 100D also records the same 4.8 seconds as the 90D, the range increases to 351 miles. Buyers can step up to the P100D, which includes the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade.
It promises an astonishing 2.9 seconds 0-60mph time and just 1.4 seconds to accelerate from 45-65mph, with a range of 336 miles, assuming it’s being driven gently.
Ultimately, the 90D’s performance is more than adequate, with very strong acceleration even at high motorway cruising speeds, and excellent mid-range flexibility for safe overtaking.
All models are capable of 155mph, except the entry-level 75D, with a maximum of 130mph.
Regenerative braking helps to restore some battery charge, by capturing energy usually lost as a car slows down. This means that quite small lifts off the throttle feel like braking in a normal car. The effect can feel quite unnatural at first, but is easy to acclimatise to.
- All-wheel drive traction is impressive
- Over-eager traction control cuts power too soon
- Handles well for its size, yet lags behind class leaders
Every Model X is supplied with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. It allows the powerful seven-seat SUV to deploy its power with little wheelspin, and makes for safe, sure-footed progress even in very bad weather conditions.
Despite this, hard acceleration from a T-junction can cause the traction control to cut power very abruptly, which is far from ideal – and not particularly safe – when attempting to merge with fast-flowing traffic. A more measured traction control intervention would be welcome here.
The Tesla’s body roll is well-contained, which is important and impressive for a heavy car weighing 2,389kg. However, conventional SUVs such as the Range Rover Sport and Audi Q7 feel more agile and fun to drive. They also have nicer steering – the Tesla’s lacks definition as you move it off-centre, which contributes to a slightly vague feeling.
The Model X’s steering is light and user-friendly, however, making the the Tesla easy to manoeuvre at low speeds in town, and this is not an intimidating SUV to squeeze into a tight parking spot. That’s partly because of the excellent reversing camera, which displays a high-resolution and extremely clear image on the 17-inch touchscreen.
- Spacious and simple design all-round
- Central touchscreen is incredibly intuitive
- Dashboard fit and finish is disappointingly below-par
A sense of spaciousness, simplicity and relaxation dominates the Tesla cabin. Unusually, the driver needs to do nothing but select Drive on the (Mercedes-sourced) steering-column-mounted gear shifter to drive away.
There’s no need to unlock the doors, or even press a start button, and the Tesla shuts off and locks itself automatically as the driver walks away. As an option, the front doors will even slowly swing out as you approach, removing the need to even touch the handle. It’s disconcertingly simple.
A huge panoramic windscreen sweeps right back over the driver’s head, split by a graduated tint and sun visors that fold in from the driver’s right (and passenger’s left) when required. It’s key to creating the feeling of space and light.
The 17-inch touchscreen controls nearly all vehicle functions, from features such as navigation, music playing and telephone connectivity to raising the suspension and sliding the second-row seating back and forth.
If you’re familiar with smartphone technology, it’s intuitive to navigate all functions, and removes the vast majority of buttons from the dashboard for a sleek, modern appearance. The buttons that remain – the electric window switches, for instance – are also borrowed from Mercedes.
Impressive storage but low-quality materials
Unlike the Model S, which makes a feature of the completely flat floor between driver and passenger at the expense of stowage space, the Model X uses a more conventional centre console. This provides far more storage, with cubbyholes and generous-sized cupholders. In fact, eight cupholders are supplied on six- and seven-seat versions.
On a relatively superficial level, quality appears high and the design of the dashboard – dominated by the iPad-like central screen – and the seven individual leather seats fitted to our test car are impressively striking.
But investigate further and the Model X lacks the substance to back up first impressions – the dashboard sounds hollow and cheap when tapped, and one of the plastic covers on the front-seat runners had come loose on our test car. It’s indicative of a level of fit and finish below Tesla’s premium rivals.
- Lumpy ride quality disappoints
- Poor wind-noise suppression
- Excellent driving position
This allows the ride height to be adjusted up and down, and should make for a more comfort-focused ride. The reality is, however, a little disappointing, the Model X displaying a lumpy ride quality that doesn’t smooth over irregularities in the road as well as it might.
The motors that power electric cars are quieter than rivals with internal combustion engines, but this means wind and tyre noise can be more noticeable
Even so, the Tesla scores poorly in this respect, with quite pronounced noise. Wind-noise suppression on our test car was particularly poor, perhaps linked to the ill-fitting seals where the Falcon Wing rear doors fold over into the roof.
The driving position is, however, perfectly comfortable, and the seats are relatively supportive. The headrests could be more generously cushioned, but there’s little to complain about here.
Similarly, there’s generous space for passengers in the second row of seats, which can be electrically powered back and forth, and even the third-row seating is comfortable for large adults.
This is partly because electric cars do not require bulky transmission tunnels – with the large battery mounted low down between the axles, the Model X is able to offer a completely flat floor, boosting space.