X really does mark the spot

Tesla Model X

Model on test: 100D, £112,230 (inc. £4,500 plug-in grant)

When I first started writing as a motoring blogger and writer, I was lucky enough to snag a Tesla Model S as my 3rd or 4th review. In short, it was amazing. Tesla has a reputation for quality and being at least one step ahead of the competition, and from that first drive I was convinced that they had an amazing set up. The perfect balance between style, performance and space, coupled with ticking the environmental box.

So the Model X… what is it all about? It’s the first electric vehicle to offer the practicality of an SUV. In fact it offers 5, 6 or 7 seat arrangements, and it’s signature move comes from the access to the second and third rows of seats. Tesla call them Falcon doors, and quite simply they’re awesome.

Everyone who saw them was impressed. in essence each door has two hinges, allowing them to open in the tightest of spaces. With sensors detecting the proximity of nearby objects (such as cars, or low roofs in car parks), they will open automatically at the touch of a button into the space that is available.

The purpose of the double hinges, is that the doors open almost from the centre of the roof, allowing easy access to the rear seats for passengers, but also for parents, strapping little ones in. They also look fantastic.

So it’s practical and easy to get into, but what about its main purpose; it’s a car, so how does it drive? Like the other Tesla I reviewed, it is powered by an amazing battery unit delivering electric and instantaneous drive to the rear wheels. Instant power, amazing torque and the type of acceleration you would usually expect from a supercar.

That’s not an exaggeration – I did some quick checks (on Google, so obviously it’s foolproof) and this car accelerates from a stand still to 60mph in the same or quicker time than a couple of Ferraris, a V8 powered Aston Martin and some other ridiculously powerful petrol-fuelled legends. My parents were visiting while I had this and my father jokingly said he’d driven a few ‘milk-floats’ before, not really expecting much from the electric power unit.

He was mistaken. I may have played him a little by driving very slowly as we left the residential roads and reached the dual carriageway. Then I put my foot down. Hard. In less than 5 seconds, we were at the speed limit, and my Dad’s face was a picture. We got talking about the power, and of course as well as the obvious lack of an internal combustion engine, there is one other difference between this and say an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, that boasts a similar 0-60 time. It’s the way the power is delivered.

I drive a lot of fast cars, and consider myself capable at handling them, but at the same time I wouldn’t expect to be able to get close to their reported acceleration times, even on a track. That relies on crisp perfect gear changes, at the precisely optimum moment every time. In the Tesla, you mash your foot down as hard and fast as you can and wait. There’s no gearbox, there’s not lag, there’s no drama. It just accelerates fast, until either you reach the speed limit, or run out of bravery.

People will ask about the charging, and in fairness I was wondering about that. I struggled to get the charger to work properly on a standard 3-pin overnight charge, but that was user-error, and if I bought one, I’d install a Tesla wall charger. On the way back to drop it off, my wife and I stopped at a services that had a Tesla Super Charger. These units are reported to give you 80% of charge (at least 200 miles of range) in 40 minutes. I thought we could test it by getting a coffee, but even then… a 40 minutes coffee break every 200 miles… would that get annoying?

I started my stopwatch as I plugged it in, and we wandered in for a coffee. By the time we’d walked in, ordered, had our coffee delivered and drunk it, when we got back to the car the stop watch read a shade under 30 minutes, and we had added 185 miles to our range, so it actually does work.

It could be inconvenient, depending on your usage, but I suspect a 30 minute break every 185 miles would suit the majority of people perfectly.

And that’s why I want to buy a Model 3 when they arrive on UK shores.

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