► Tesla takes on SUV/MPV market
► Shares motor tech with Model S
► Price starts from £89,300
Tesla’s electric revolution is expanding beyond the Model S saloon into this, the taller and more capacious Model X.
Designed to rival more conventional MPVs and SUVs in the market, the Model X can be specified with five, six or even seven seats, as tested here.
CAR magazine lives with a Tesla Model S long-term test electric car
So is the Tesla Model X really an MPV then?
Well you could call it that. The most eye-catching element of the Model X are the ‘swan-wing’ doors; they look like slightly more conventional coach doors with the handles butting up against those on the front doors, but a press of the key or a touch of the handle itself seems them rise gracefully and elegantly, leaving a generous aperture for those climbing aboard.
Think Daniel LaRusso’s crane-kick stance from The Karate Kid and you’re not a million miles away.
They look awesome, but are Tesla's swan-wing doors practical?
Mostly, yes. It can take a bit of fiddling with the key to get them to open as you’d want, and although you can pause the opening process there is the occasional intake of breath in multi-storey car parks, for example.
But the truth is that the Tesla Model X doors require less horizontal space than conventional doors and leave no ugly train track like the sliding variety.
Plus your kids will, quite rightly, think they’re the coolest thing they’ve ever seen...
Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK
Is the Model X as practical as an MPV?
The seating arrangement makes full use of electrickery, allowing you to slide the second row by tapping at the main control screen, while the third row requires a simple button push to fold or return to a seated position.
For passengers, the space on offer is impressive, although the third row is, practically speaking, a child-only zone. Luggage space is a little behind more conventional rivals thanks to the deeper floor eating a little space, although the Tesla Model X is unique in offering a front boot (or frunk, if you will), even if this is relatively small.
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What about the driving experience?
You may not be surprised to learn it’s very much like the Model S. This four-wheel-drive 90D example is not short on thrust; dunk the right pedal and the response is precise, instant and measurably linear, accompanied by a harmony of faint whines from the electric motors and your gobsmacked passengers. When you’re not showboating the Model X is at its best at a steady cruise, with instant torque available should the mood take you.
Less impressive are the rest of the car’s dynamics. Like its siblings the Model X’s steering is more of an elaborate switch, lacking much in the way of feel or feedback. It’s certainly accurate, and you can dial in three modes of assistance, but it won’t satisfy your inner Senna.
The same goes for the ride quality, with suspension understandably set relatively stiff to keep the weight in check. Over longer undulations it’s fine and controlled, but sharper bumps make it all the way to your backside, and in those conditions it rides more like a sports car than a family wagon.
What about the rest of the Model X's cabin?
It’s the familiar Tesla experience in here, with the tall-screen tablet experience dominating your interaction with the car. It can be a little intimidating at first but as long as you’re not bemoaning the lack of a tiller and a starting handle it soon becomes intuitive, and being able to configure the screen to your own preferences is welcome.
But will I be able to charge my Tesla?
The charging experience will largely be determined by where you are in the country and what you do with your Model X. The Tesla Supercharger network is growing and using one is how all electric car charging should be; plug it in and within seconds you can see the range increasing as it gets a full 120kW up its socket, turning a brief coffee stop into a chance to add 100 miles to your scope.
That only compounds the misery of a standard domestic three-pin charge however, which offers a measly 4-5 miles for every hour of hook-up. There are further options between these two extremes, including a beefed-up dedicated home charger, but do your homework first. Tesla expects the majority of buyers to have a dedicated home charger, making the three-pin option a last resort.
What else do I need to know?
Adding in the six- or seven-seat options is extra but definitely worthwhile, otherwise you might as well stick with the more conventional Model S.
And the Tesla Model X UK price? A whopping £102,730, as tested in 90kWh spec. That's a whole lotta cash...
It's hard not to be impressed by the Tesla Model X. Here is a think-different car from Elon Musk's disruptive car maker, pioneering the electric car into all sorts of new niches and segments.
The thing is, we wonder how long before the European premium pack catch up... Here and now, the Model X stands alone. But in 12 short months' time, Jaguar is confident it'll pip the Germans to market with its new I-Pace electric SUV - with Mercedes-Benz and Porsche waiting in the wings.
The premium electric car market is getting ready for one almighty punch-up. Today, we can safely recommend the Tesla Model X. But it's not going to have things all its own way for much longer...
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