In the Spotlight – Tesla Model X P100D {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

26 Aug 2017

Welcome, dear friends – welcome to the future. Now a lot of you are going to baulk at that statement and maybe even stop reading, but I implore you not to as if you have any interest in the future of motoring you need to embrace the idea of electric cars because they’re coming whether you like it or not. By 2030 it’s estimated that over 50% of new car sales will be electric – that’s just 13yrs from now so you’d better get opening those ears…

I had this Tesla Model X from EVHire for the day and even though I was already a huge fan of EVs this P100D sold me absolutely on the idea. As a bit of background, as part of the other half of my life I designed and engineered the charging points for POD Point – the company whose CEO and founder chose this week’s ITH cars. So yeah, I’m slightly invested. But don’t for one second think I’m biased – I was a petrolhead long before I started my engineering degree or I started writing about cars – in fact that term may have to change too, maybe carhead?

Anyway – the Tesla. Lets start with the most controversial aspect of it – the looks. Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the best looking large SUV. It looks a little bit like someone shoved an airhose in the exhaust of a Model S, except the Model S doesn’t have an exhaust pipe. I digress….. It’s quite a challenging shape, but there is method in the madness – aerodynamics. The Model X is incredibly slippery for an SUV the size of a Range Rover which really helps with range as aerodynamic drag means less battery range.

I actually think the nose is still very attractive, it’s just the rear end that doesn’t work as much for me with the tapering glass just looking a little too tall. But aesthetics are all personal so I’ll leave it for now. What nobody can ignore with the Model X are those rear doors, or Falcon Wings as they’re known. They’re one of the Model X’s two party pieces and are, quite frankly absurdly cool, and functional. They sweep up and then out to give incredibly easy access to the rear seats, in fact they actually take up far less room to open than a regular door – about 30cm – so are very handy in tight car parks. They are of course powered but what you don’t expect is that the front doors are too. Press the button on the drivers’ door and it sweeps open; sit in the seat and press the brake to wake the car and the door shuts itself. Sounds gimmicky and of course it is, but it’s very nice to have.

Once inside you can then close all the doors with one button (as you can from outside on the remote too) and then you’re ready to take in the incredible interior. This really does take things to the next level in the Model X – functional, stylish and exquisitely finished. The biggest thing to talk about has to be that massive screen, a 17-inch HD touchscreen mounted in Portrait replacing all the buttons on the dash. There’s a strip at the bottom with the climate controls that’s always there but then the rest can be taken up with the whole nav map which is simply Google Maps. I’ve wondered for a long why manufacturers don’t just use Google Maps for navigation and thankfully Tesla have done it, as it works brilliantly, you have the might of Google search behind it to find things and it’s crystal clear.

Of course there are a lot more aspects to the screen – for a start the reversing camera is there and it really does look like someone shoved a GoPro on the rear bumper, it’s insanely high quality. Then you have music, with not just DAB, FM and phone Bluetooth, but with Spotify as well via the car’s in-built 4G connection. You can also sync your calendar and even use it as a web browser, you can control your whole life through your car. There’s a screen instead of dials ahead of the driver too, with the turn-by-turn navigation directions coming up there so they’re easier for the driver to see, along with charge, range and other details. If there’s one criticism I have, it’s that there isn’t an option for a head-up display. I’ve used them in Audis, Range Rovers and the like and find them incredibly useful for keeping your eyes on the road when driving.

But that leads me onto another aspect – do you even need to look ahead with all the Model X’s semi-autonomous driving capabilities? Well yes, of course you do, but they are incredibly good and we only have access to a small selection of what’s available. I drove down the motorway, set the cruise to 70mph (officer) and much like other adaptive cruise systems it keeps you a set distance from the cars in front, then accelerates again when they move. But the Tesla has radar and cameras all around and actually keeps you within the lines too, around corners, over bumps, perfectly centred. Then when a car comes up ahead you indicate and the car will change lanes for you – but only if there’s a safe space of course. I tried it and yes, at first it’s a downright scary experience, putting all of your trust in the car’s systems but they really do work. I can only imagine how incredible he full systems are going to be when they’re fully developed and we’re allowed to use them (that’s another matter altogether).

Another aspect to discuss is the second of the P100D’s party pieces – the performance (that’s what the P stands for). Put quite simply -it’s absolutely @{&£*ng ridiculous. This has the ‘Ludicrous’ upgrade meaning you can have an extra level of performance from the 611bhp provided by the motors. To access it you press and hold the Ludicrous button which shows off a Star Wars hyperspace-style graphic and then motor’s brushes then have to warm up. Once they are you have access to the full performance, which is a frankly absurd 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds – in a huge SUV. To put that into perspective that’s as fast as a Caterham 620R, or a McLaren 720S. it’s not just that sprint either – 45-65mph (passing speed) takes just 1.4 seconds. Both of these numbers are impressive, but they don’t prepare you for how they feel – an EV has 100% of the torque available from standstill and there are no gears so you just mash the pedal to the floor and you are shoved into your seat as it takes off, relentlessly accelerating until you run out of nerve. I did a few of these runs, with 5 passengers (see the video review here) and I can tell you now it’s so brutal I felt genuinely queasy afterwards.

The thing is, that is all well and good but when can you use that? Okay, you can’t, but you can use the performance elsewhere, where the P100D can overtake pretty much anything in a heartbeat, get you into gaps you thought couldn’t be reached and get you down that sliproad ahead of that big lorry who hasn’t moved over. Speed can be helpful as well as just a bit of fun.

When I talk to people about electric cars the first comment is always about range – they don’t want to have to stop every hour to charge their car on a long journey. Well that isn’t an issue here either, okay the P100D has the largest battery at 100kWh, but this Model X will comfortably do 250 miles on a charge, more if you put it in Eco mode (some have seen 300 miles at a steady cruise). Yes if you do Ludicrous launches all the time it’ll be far less but in normal driving I saw a range of at least 250 miles. That’s enough for London to Manchester in one go, and if you’re going further there are Tesla’s Supercharger stations throughout the country with more being installed all the time. This gives you an extra 100 miles for 20 minutes charging, so you could stop, plug in and have a coffee should you need to. But that length of journey is quite rare, most do it sporadically with average journeys being less than 40 miles, so that shouldn’t stop people. Generally the public needs to change the way they think about ‘fuelling’ their car with an EV – internal combustion engine cars are filled up, run to empty and repeat, whereas EVs you charge overnight so every day the car is full. You then ‘graze’ with top-up charging at your destinations; work, shopping, anywhere that you park your car. The infrastructure is getting better every day, and EVs are pushing the boundaries of development every single day. The future isn’t coming – it’s here, and it’s called a Tesla.

The Tesla Model X P100D is available for one week only in our In the Headlights promotion – buy your tickets here.