Model: X P100D
Cost as Tested: $288,995 (on-road costs extra depending on state)
I last reviewed the Model S, Tesla's sedan model, in February and I came away with the final thoughts of "One of the most fun cars I've ever driven, but it comes at a price - a $260,000 price. If however the money's worth it - then this is a stunning car that I can't ever see myself getting bored with, and really it's just a smart computer on wheel. Stick this one down as a must buy if you can afford it!". When I think about it, my position is still the same - it was incredibly fun and with that in mind I reached out Tesla once again to look to their people mover, the 6 seater Model X - to which Tesla generously agreed again. Once again, I was given their top of the line Model X P100D version (you know.. the one with ludicrous mode) but before we get into the review - the specs:
- Battery: 100 kWh battery with All-Wheel Drive
- Max Power: 259 hp @ 6,100 rpm (193 kW)
- Max Speed: 250kph
- 0-100 KPH Secs: 3.1
- Max Range on single charge: 542km
- Weight: 2,459 kg
If you're interested in the full cost breakdown, then take a peek here.
Once again, the Tesla team gave me a good rundown of the car in order to understand the specs and additional features on what was different from the Model S - which includes the super cool Falcon doors, Self Driving Capabilities and so on (including coming in on a Saturday on an off day). I mentioned that when I had the Model S, it did have the Self driving feature - but it was too new and hadn't been configured yet - so it was a cool differentiator for me to actually see. Unlike the Model S, I had planned 2 full days of driving with the Model X to Geelong/Torquay and another day to the Yarra Winery region - with different group of friends to get their thoughts on the car as well.
Aesthetics & Styling
At first glance, especially in an electrifying blue, the Model X stands out, and in a big way. It has a lot of surface area, large rims and is clearly sporting some killer curves - though it's not as curvaceous as the Model S. People were quite surprised at it being a 6 seater because it didn't look quite as big from the outside as it was from the inside - and there's a lot to be said for the styling department here. However, when the falcon doors went up - people went nuts. Without a doubt the coolest feature of the car were the two rear doors which created a sports car like feel, but obviously due to the size, created quite the view - we even heard someone mention "The future is now!". It can't be overstated just how much of a 'cool factor' this was on top of the fact it was a Tesla.
I honestly don't feel like photos do it justice - it really is a good-looking car. The inside is fairly stylish as well, with an incredibly large window which extended all the way up to the room, and that gave it a larger feel from the inside than it actually appeared. And of course, right on the front of the dashboard is the standard large touchscreen which controls everything in the car. Overall, from a styling perspective, I don't think you could go wrong with this car - and it comes with a status symbol of a Tesla - especially in cities where Tesla's rarely exist - for example, there were people taking multiple photos of it in Geelong and even waiting for it to go past to video the car - I've never seen that before and it speaks for itself.
Here's where it get's a little tricky to praise Tesla for. The front two seats are spacious and comfortable - there's plenty of room the stretch. Even the middle seats are decent, provided the person has enough leg room (as you can adjust the seats quite a bit), but once you get to the back, it get's incredibly tight. If all your friends/family members are tall - then you can pretty much only fit 4 people comfortably as the back two seats get quite cozy, if not overly tight. The problem with this is the car requires the middle seats to be pushed back to a certain location otherwise the car screen keeps beeping. I had this with people who weren't the most comfortable and asked for the middle seat to move up a little - but nope, the Tesla module refused to allow me to clear the screen and insisted the middle seat be moved back.
Tesla market this as a 5, 6 or 7 seater - but in reality this is no Audi Q7 which is a true 7 seater. If someone is shorter, say below 5'5, then sure it will be fine, and it will work with kids as well - but kids do grow up eventually - so comfort is certainly an issue here. The solution we found is that people had to put their feet into the middle aisle to avoid being too cramped, so it's lucky we had a 6 seater version as this would be impossible on the 7 seater. However, when we weren't cramped, people said that it was an incredibly quiet and comfortable drive (almost like a train cabin).
Let's not forget this is the P100D model of the Model X, so you've also got the super fast Ludicrous mode which was incredibly fun, especially in such a big car as this. I think people were blown away by just how fast this thing could move, even with a full house. Tesla claim 0-100kph in 3.1 seconds, though this would only be possible with 1 person in the car. With a full house of 6, we tested the car did the same test in about 3.7 seconds, which is still ridiculously fast and impressive - and still brought about a few screams as you can see in the videos below:
The ride was quite smooth though, though we never really went off-road to see if the shock absorbers were any good - but as far as normal roads go - it aces it. The driver's seat was quite comfortable, and a little more roomy than in the Model S, and I had no problems with the driving aspect of it at all.
Even though I said it's not a true 6 seater - it still is a big car. Part of it lies in just how wide it actually is, as it is long which made me think city driving and parking would have been a real issue - but as it turns out, it was fairly easy. Autoparking and inbuilt GPS and sensors all made it fairly easy to drive around - no matter where we were. Storage wise, I wouldn't say the boot is as big as it needs to be considering the 'family version' of the car - I actually think no more than 2 large suitcase will fit at the back which makes the Model X actually have LESS storage space than the Model S. Now of course you could use the inside of the car for luggage and storage, but that really defeats the purpose of having such a large people mover, no matter how good it looks.
Another cool feature, albeit frustrating, is the Autopilot (aka cruise control 2.0) feature - which is by far the most advanced thing in this car. What is does (provided you have your hands on the steering wheel) is on highways - the car will pretty drive for you, following along on the lanes, slow down and speed up automatically depending on the person in front of you - and when you turn your signal light indicator on, even change lanes for you. Using it was incredible, although it didn't come without its issues - even when you did have your hands on the wheel - the notification telling you to put your hands on the wheel would pop up. Sometimes removing your hands and putting them back on the wheel solved this (ye ol' turn on and off), but sometimes you would need to squeeze hard and do all of the above. It happened a couple of times - and quite frankly it made it very annoying to use at times. I'm not sure if that was a feature to help you concentrate, or a bug, or a beta product fault - either way, huge pain.
Then there's the big doors, the falcon doors. They're not slow - but they're also not the quickest in the world if you want to make a quick exit from the back. If you were quick enough, you could be in and out of a normal car door while this opened up - and while it wasn't a pain point in the 3 days I had the Tesla - I would say it could certainly be an annoyance down the line.
And the final annoying thing is charging. With Tesla's becoming increasingly popular - Tesla really haven't invested in more 'Super Charging' Networks around town. In Melbourne, there are 4 Super Chargers located in Richmond at their office/showroom - which is only true way to give the machine a quick charge (and it also comes with wait times with so many people wanting to use it since its Free right now). There are a few other ways to charge it: Home charging (useless in my case as I don't have a proper port in my Garage) also considered to be a very slow method of charging it, and Destination Charging (faster than home, but much slower than Super Chargers). I decided to try this out while I was in Geelong and head to a Destination Charger.
Unfortunately I couldn't find it, and had to ask the receptionist at the hotel (after 10 mins of searching) how I could find it, only to be told that it was only for hotel residents and it was located in their Garage - which seemed incredibly silly since this would cater to almost no one. After a bit of coercing, I got the keys to the Garage, entered, and charged it for a good 30 mins which gave me maybe 5% additional battery. Not ideal when low on battery, which thankfully I was not. It also leads me to wonder if this is the hotel management being stingy, or that is the actual deal they have set up with Tesla - because if so, I question the availability of many Destination chargers located in hotels across Australia - and just how impractical it may be for those on the road.
Then there's my final complaint - the glass window which extends to the roof. Super cool yes - super impractical in summer - also yes. I could really feel the sun's heat when it was a little warmer and we had to really pump up the aircon to cool down, though this obviously leads to depleting the battery quicker. I can't imagine driving around on a 40 degree summer day, even if the top of the window is slightly tinted - there really should be a way to pull a shade across to limit the sun. Instead, there's a tiny magnetic sun visor which is cool - but feels almost like an after thought which just how limited it is. Yes it can work, but it's incredibly slim and didn't really do the job as well as I would have hoped.
Then there's the P100D version. Surely Tesla focuses the Model X more at families, but which mum needs Ludicrous mode on her car? I mean yes, some MAY want it, but there's no real NEED for it. But I suppose if you want a bit of excitement once in a while, whether mum or dad, the option is here - I just wonder.
The one thing I WAS impressed by however was just how tight a space the falcon doors could open in. Tesla claim it needs only 30cm, and frankly I was surprised as to how close to true this was, especially when I was in a tight spot. The sensors on the car even detect the roof if in a parking garage and stop it from hitting anything. If the space is too tight, Tesla drivers can actually make the Model X go forward or backwards just by using the phone, and you don't even have to be inside. It's also quite fun to freak people out with - though while Tesla reps were showing me how to use this feature, the car didn't stop when I told it to stop which had me freaking out a little, and thinking the bugs are still there in the software.
As mentioned, I'm not sure who the target market is exactly for the P100D model. Yes, I get it could be a great family car otherwise, but when you throw in the top of the line specs the car costs nearly $300k which is insane! But it's also incredible fun - I can't think of any other car which would be as much as fun as the Model X in a 6 seat configuration. But that's just it, you have to look at Fun vs Cost vs practicality. While the Model S was something I could recommend considering the package, the Model X is a harder sell, especially being much more expensive. There's still a market for it though - those families who prefer smart cars, vegan leather, and don't mind spending a little more, but it really is a niche market, even if you go to the base Model.
Yes the car looks cool, yes the falcon doors are almost amazing, yes Autopilot can be fun - but there are tiny issues the really do buildup, and it leads me to think that there are just too many small niggles at this cost to really justify this model, though the entry-level 70D does start at a more 'affordable' $145,000 (though that's the 5 seater version without Ludicrous mode, a smaller battery, and no self driving capability). It's strange to think just how well made and almost perfect the Model S was, while the Model X is a few notches below perfect. It's still a good car, and if you can look beyond certain niggles which would annoy me, then why not? It's also not really a true '6 or 7 seater' car, especially if you have a tall family or tall friends.
Still, Tesla has to be commended for pushing the boundaries of smart cars and what they can do - but with most major brands catching up soon, Tesla may need to start looking over their shoulders - or creating cars with perfect execution. Otherwise it's a slippery slope from here on. I love Tesla and everything Elon has done, but once the novelty wears off - you have to look at things practically.