So the kind folk at Tesla loaned me a Model X for a few days whilst my Model S was getting some work done… Ironic given I had openly said I don’t like urban SUVs and I reckon they’re for the Mamarazzi on soccer and school pick-up duties. And all those gimmicks on the Model X – automatic opening doors, big sky windscreen, falcon wing doors, electric adjustable centre row… Ha Tesla, you’re gonna regret this…
So with a negative mindset I collected the key fob and approached the Model X 90D.
When I got near the driver’s door it opened itself, just a little bit to start and then opened wide enough for me to just step through. Yeah, okay – gimmick – let’s see what happens when we’re in a tight spot and it bangs into the car beside me. When I got in, the 18″ touch screen was displaying options for me to open or close any of the doors in the car. Naturally I opened the falcon wing doors (you gotta right?), then the passenger door and the boot door (sorry Tesla, it is NOT a trunk in this neck of the woods!). Then I simply pressed ‘Close All’ and every door shut itself and I was sitting in the familiar surroundings of a Tesla. What I later learned is that you can simply walk away from the Model X with all the doors left open and around 20 seconds later it will self-close the doors and lock itself.
The driver’s view from within a Model S and Model X are pretty much the same. Same controls and operating systems so it’s all very familiar. The X is and feels far roomier and it is more than just the space – the Big Sky windscreen goes all the way back to above your head – there is so much head room. You can tilt your head back and look straight up at the sky – which was really cool as the Melbourne Grand Prix had the air force jets overhead! We came to appreciate the open feeling it gave – like being in a bubble Vanessa said.
Downsides? It took us a moment to find the sun-visors – with the windscreen running way back, where are they? As it turns out they are against the A-Pillars and you turn them out when you need, the second issue – and it’s a big one for us married guys – there is no make-up mirror for the boss to make herself (more) beautiful. (I’ve since read that there is one behind a second visor panel, that we didn’t find)
Those falcon wing doors… too complex, yep… a gimmick, maybe… practical, yeah okay… uber cool, absolutely… Yeah, I confess, maybe I opened them once or twice when I didn’t really need to open them. They turn heads. They also carefully sense their surroundings when opening for the first time in a new location and remember the settings for the next time you’re there.
And now for the big test – how does it drive?
Having spoken to other Model S owners who’d driven the X, I’d been told about body roll and less performance compared to the S – a Model S has virtually zero body roll as the centre of gravity is below the axle line – so I was almost expecting something like my Landrover Discovery from two decades ago rolling from curb to curb.
I was pleased to learn that ‘our’ Model X with air suspension had virtually zero body roll – sure, it ain’t no Model S, but it is very good compared to something like a BMW X5. I threw the Model X hard into a 50km/h signposted bend at around 90km/h (controlled conditions yarda yarda) and you could feel the weight pushing her wide but very little body roll was contributing.
We were staying at the farm about a hundred kays outside of Melbourne. We’ve got several kilometers of corrugated road to travel each way. Initially, we set the suspension to high to try to smooth out the corrugations. It worked almost too well. We could travel at 80km/h in comfort, thought at this speed the suspension lowered itself to standard and happily dealt with the bumps. Travelling slower was less comfortable as many who have dealt with Aussie corrugated roads will attest.
The drive in to Melbourne and back has some 20 odd kilometers of single lane highway. Signposted at 100km/h with the locals driving around 85km/h. Overtaking performance is very strong with around 350Kw available from about 80km/h – meaning you must be careful to maintain your licence – 30km/h over the limit happens very quickly. [flashing lights – crying lots]
I probably covered around 800km in the five days we had the Model X. In comparison to a Model S I reckon it consumes around 5 -10% more electrons for a given trip – understandable given the extra weight and size. Yet this more than covers most of everyone’s driving needs.
And now I must now admit, I really enjoyed the car. I did not expect to. I was ready to shame it out of existence (at least out of my existence). Yet I liked it – a lot. Every one else we met, liked it a lot.
When I walked back to my Model S this evening, the door handles popped out to greet me – door, why did you not open? I sat in the driver’s seat and looked towards the stars – but the roof lining was in the way. And then I got on the highway and felt the power of my P85D and I smiled; even though, I knew I’d have to physically close the door when I got home.