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Car reviews - Tesla - Model X - P100D

Our Opinion

We like
Jaw-dropping performance, fantastic infotainment, benchmark space and versatility, great steering and handling
Room for improvement
P100D too expensive, hefty options pricing, ride comfort on 22s, claimed range hard to achieve

Gallery

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Tesla logo9 May 2017

Price and equipment

THE flagship Model X P100D tested here is not cheap at $261,132 plus on-road costs, $42,832 of which goes to the luxury-car tax (LCT). It is $85,280 pricier than the grade below, the 100D, yet that surcharge is all in the turn of speed, which moves from a 5.0-second 0-100km/h claim to 3.1s.

Both ‘100’ models include 20-inch alloy wheels, power-fold mirrors, electric doors and tailgate, a huge 17.0-inch colour touchscreen (with navigation, digital radio and apps connectivity), keyless auto-entry and -start and dual-zone climate control air-conditioning.

Options include 22-inch wheels ($8000), AutoPilot with enhanced self-driving capability ($7300 – or a further $4400 for full autonomous driving not yet legal here), a premium upgrades package with leather/Alcantara dashboard trim and ‘self presenting’ front doors that detect your presence and automatically open and close ($6600), white/tan/light/black full leather cabin ($4800) and 17-speaker premium sound system ($3700). Yes, a lot of that should be standard for the price.

Major cabin configurations include standard five-seat, and optional six-seat ($4350) or seven-seat ($5800).

Interior

Like the Model S, the Model X focuses on technology over touchy-feely detail.

Although the (optional) leather quality is supple, some plastics and fit-and-finish are not to premium standards.

Thankfully, the touchscreen certainly is. With Google Maps predictive search function, pinch-to-zoom and fabulous menu intuition, this is absolutely the best infotainment system in the premium class. The (optional) premium sound system is fantastic, too.

Tesla’s SUV introduces a huge, panoramic windscreen that stretches well over the heads of front occupants. Visibility is great, but with the sun shining it leaves a driver counting how many times the sunvisor must be adjusted to block glare from eyes. The real answer is: it is not a fun game.

Surprisingly less controversial is the ‘Falcon Wing’ doors. At first they seem like a needless affectation, but the way they contort upwards, taking part of the roof with them, means third-row occupants can stand up inside the car before easily lowering themselves into the back. It makes for benchmark SUV entry and egress, even if it is a terribly complex solution to the issue.

That unique design also, however, shines a light – literally when the doors are open – on what is then revealed as a superbly space-efficient SUV. With batteries underfloor, it leaves both a front boot and an unbelievably deep rear boot, the latter thanks to the lack of messy exhaust hardware.

The egg-shaped SUV also delivers plenty of middle-row legroom and headroom – although the seven-seat option is the smart choice, given that three duplicate buckets are provided in lieu of two identical units in the six-seater. In the latter, there is simply a big void in the centre of the vehicle.

Even the third-row is accommodating, with a nicely tilted bench, air vents and one-touch power-fold centre outboard seats that utterly embarrass the flip-then-fold mechanism of an Audi SQ7 tested in the same week. In packaging terms, this 5.0-metre-long Model X is also far more impressive than its lower Model S liftback sibling that suffers from a rear seat mounted too close to the floor.

Engine and transmission

As mentioned, spending $85,280 extra and moving from the Model X 100D to this P100D buys a 2.1-second-faster 0-100km/h time. With standard Ludicrous mode employed, ferrying family to Easter lunch resulted in genuine laugh-out-loud response from passengers.

Best of all, the Tesla EV is silent yet peppy, with instantaneous and brilliant response even when it is not being floored from standstill. But the Model X P100D cannot do two things at the same time – even occasionally use its performance and its claimed range of 542km plummets.

On the freeway – between Tesla’s Goulburn Supercharger facility and Sydney – we managed 175km with 40 per cent of the battery used at 234 Watt-hours per kilometre. The combined-cycle claim is 226Wh/km, so we were close with a potential range of 438km if we continued on.

But through city traffic and using brief spurts of acceleration with three people on board, the remaining 60 per cent of the battery was sapped after only 125km, for a total range of 300km. Had we only driven it in such conditions, the range would have been an even more paltry 210km.

The lesser powered Model X 100D is still quick, yet it claims an even lengthier 565km range. Given it takes 90 minutes to recharge at one of Tesla’s increasing number of Supercharger outlets – of which every buyer gets around 40 free recharges – the more range, arguably, the better.

Ride and handling

Not only for a 2497kg upper-large SUV, the Model X P100D is mostly outstanding to drive.

We say mostly because its steering is superbly direct and fluent, being sharp and light enough to disguise its dimensions, while the handling is phenomenally grippy if a bit one-dimensional.

Basically, driving through bends relying on grip and motor response is fun and addictive, but the chassis lacks the balance, or the natural segue between front and rear axles through bends, of a fossil fuel-powered equivalent such as the SQ7. Once past the sticking point of its tyres, that is it.

Tyres, though, are indeed a sticky issue with this Tesla. Quite simply, low-profile 22-inch rubber affects the ride quality of the otherwise fluent and composed air suspension setup. Particularly on country roads, the P100D jolts and thumps around in an unrefined fashion. It is possible to feel the suspension working well (and hard) but the alloy wheel rims jar.

Thankfully, it gets better at lower speeds, though saving $8000 and retaining the 20s is smart.

Safety and servicing

Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and full-length curtain protection), ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), pre-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and front and rear parking sensors with around-view camera are standard.

ANCAP has not tested the Tesla Model X.

Annual or 20,000km check-ups come at a recommended cost of $2475 for the first trio, or $3675 for the first quartet. Individual services are more expensive than up-front packages.

Verdict

The Tesla Model X is more impressive as an upper-large SUV than the Model S is as an upper-large liftback. No longer is electric acceleration the absolute standout, but rather the six- or seven-seat packaging of this model is among the finest around.

In fact, we cannot see the value in the Model X P100D unless Ludicrous mode acceleration is valued as an $85,000 party trick. Particularly given this model struggles with claimed range between recharging, the 100D – or even cheaper models – simply seem more convincing.

With a cheaper model optioned up with AutoPilot – not fitted to our test car, but which experience reliably informs us is brilliantly tuned for effortless freeway motoring – and premium audio/cabin, but on standard wheels, this Tesla would combine unique design with practicality, and performance with comfort, better than most conventionally-powered multi-seat alternatives.

It would not only hang its hat on being an EV and being different, but being all the better for it.

Rivals

Audi SQ7 from $153,616 plus on-road costs
Inefficient inside and bulky, but fast and fully featured.

Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic from $169,100 plus on-road costs
The driver’s SUV with a characterful but fuel-sucking V8.

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