Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X
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Tesla Model X 90D

What is it?

Tesla Model X 90D
Falcon wing rear doors

The Tesla Model X with falcon-wing rear doors.

In the Tesla timeline, first came the limited-appeal Lotus Elise-based Roadster, then Tesla proved it was serious about electric car development with the Model S five-door hatch – which impressed when we drove the P85D version 18 months ago.

Well, the Model X SUV is the next development of the Tesla genre and in fact it sits on the same chassis as the Model S, although that’s where the similarities end.

Available with 5, 6 or even seven seats, the Tesla Model X is its new premium SUV rival – but will you choose the all-electric Tesla over conventional rivals? Well, we got an early drive in a UK spec 90D to find out.

What’s hot

  • The Model X might weigh a portly 2,439kg, but you wouldn’t know it in the way the 90D goes – and there’s still the high performance P100D range-topper to come! Even though this is a 90D, there’s still a massive, supercar-like 371bhp from the Tesla’s front and rear motors. Twin motors mean four-wheel drive, acceleration to 60mph in just 4.8 secs and for an SUV, an unbelievable top speed of 155mph.
Tesla Model X
Dash with large central touchscreen
  • The Model X is fast, but with all that performance what’s the range like I hear you say? Like the Model S that came before it, as long as the Model X is more carefully driven, Tesla tell me this 90D should be capable of a 303-mile range on a full charge. The Model X earns further brownie points as being electric it emits 0g/km of CO2, equalling a 9% tax band. The Model X can also be charged at home, or on the move with the company’s excellent own free fast-charging supercharger network or its new destination chargers.
  • The Model X couldn’t be mistaken for anything else, which considering how expensive it is, we think is a good thing. In our opinion, it almost looks like a taller Model S. Interesting parts of the design start at the front, with the slim headlights and family grille, carrying on with the chunky but sculpted front air dam and long bonnet. At the side of the Model X, it’s the tall roof line and the way that massive panoramic windscreen carries on over the roof and those flush-fitting door handles that impress. Then, at the back it has to be the tall rear design with the rear smoked light clusters spreading across and the active rear spoiler mark out this Tesla. Our Model X rode on massive, optional 20-inch alloys which completed the look.
  • Yes, we’ve talked about the design, but we feel we need to give separate praise to the gullwing-like ‘Falcon-Wing’ rear doors, which swing up out of the way, giving impressive access to the five separate rear seats. They are certainly a talking point, a step ahead of rivals and helpfully feature sensors that measure the distance between this Tesla and other parked cars and then pivots them accordingly – or if there’s not enough room they just won’t open – clever.
  • On top of the performance, just getting behind the wheel of the Model X is something we guarantee you’ll never forget. Why? Well, it’s down to that massive panoramic windscreen. The largest cured windscreen on any production vehicle, it almost makes you feel like you’re driving on the outside of this Tesla and is specially tinted to reduce glare.
Tesla Model X rear seats
Model X rear seating
  • The inside of the Model X feels like an even more spacious version of the Model S – which it effectively is. The dashboard is dominated by the central iPad-like touchscreen which controls all the car’s functions and infotainment. One of the biggest steps forward over the earlier Tesla Model S that we tried was with planning routes – where to avoid range anxiety, the system can even work out where you should stop for charging! It will always stay up-to-date too because of over-the-air software updates.
  • The driving position is comfortable and multi-adjustable and because of that touchscreen there’s not much other switchgear. However, what there is comes from Mercedes and feels good quality. Move to the back and there’s plenty of room for passengers in the second row, although the third row was probably best suited to children and bootspace is a bit on the tight side with all the seats up. Best fold them down to make the most of the 2,180 litres of space!
  • The Model X is a tall, heavy SUV, but once you get used to this and because of its low centre of gravity, there’s hardly any bodyroll, plus plenty of grip and reasonably communicative steering.
  • Okay, this Tesla isn’t cheap, but the batteries’ location in the floor gives Model X an extremely low centre of gravity, reducing the risk of rollover common in SUVs. Without an engine, Model X has a crumple zone much larger than other SUVs to absorb the energy of a front end impact. Along with standard active safety features, crash tests indicate that the Model X will receive a 5-star safety rating in all Euro NCAP categories, the first SUV ever to do so.

What’s not

  • Those ‘Falcon-Wing’ rear doors might be clever and cool, but we wonder if they might be more helpful if they open normally in everyday use? They were slow to operate and even though they pivot, we’re not sure they’d pivot enough to be of use in car parks.
  • Teslas ride on big wheels and this Model X had too much of an unsettled ride in our opinion.
  • Range anxiety might be less of a worry with the Model X as Tesla seems to have thought of everything. But, outside of your own home charger, the growing network of Tesla’s excellent own superchargers covering key centres and motorways, and new destination chargers at shopping centres and the like, you might find yourself at the mercy of the public charging network which is a bit hit and miss in places!
  • This is one of the most advanced electric cars on sale but Tesla and the Government are going to make you pay for it! Our test car even with the £4,500 plug-in grant and plenty of options still listed at a scary £104,730. Although business contract hire rates are available.
  • It is a classic example of the new road tax bandings effective from April 1 for new cars based primarily on CO2 emissions. As a pure electric this has none so first year road tax costs nothing. But because the list price exceeds £40,000, new Tesla Model Xs registered from April are subject to the £310 p.a. premium road tax levy for years two to six. And as company car BIK rates soar over the next three years, the P11D BIK multiplier rises to £15k at 16% that for a 40% taxpayer means £502/month in 2019/20.

Verdict

We think that the Tesla Model X offers a unique electric-powered SUV package, as on top of the practicality with five, six and seven-seater options and those ‘Falcon-Wing’ rear doors, there’s almost supercar levels of performance available.

Our only caveats are the Model X’s high list price, we’re not convinced the ‘Falcon-Wing’ rear doors are any more than a gimmick in everyday use and away from Tesla’s excellent supercharger network, new destination chargers and home charging you’ll be at the mercy of the UK’s public fast-charging system which is still a bit hit and miss although improving all the time.

The lowdown on: Tesla Model X 90D 

List price£89,300 (after plug-in grant)
Doors and body style5-door SUV
Engine/gearbox:Front and rear electric motors/single-speed automatic transmission
CO2 Emissions:0g/km
Economy (combined)/range:303 miles
Power/torque:371bhp/316Nm
0-62mph/top speed:4.8sec/155mph
Insurance group:50

What it Costs:

P11D value£94,125
Road Tax (VED) from April 2017:£0 first year/£310 p.a. years 2 to 6
Company Car Tax Band 2017/18 to 2019/20:9%, 13%, 16%
Benefit in Kind 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20:£8.471, £12,236, £15,060
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%):£0
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%):£0
Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (20%):£1,694/£141
Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (40%):£3,389/£282
Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X rear profile

 

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