Tesla brings more disruptive technology to the car industry with the Model X 90D all-electric, all-wheel drive SUV, with a range of 303 miles, 155mph top speed and 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds – and of course zero tailpipe emissions.
Model/Engine size: Tesla Model X 90D
Fuel economy combined: N/A
Green Car Guide rating: 10/10
By Paul Clarke
Tesla continues to bring disruptive innovation to the car industry with the Model X, which comes very close to being the holy grail of a car concept: massive performance, zero tailpipe emissions, 300 mile driving range, lots of space, seven seat option, all-wheel drive, variable ride height, and virtually silent to drive.
The Model X shares the same platform as the Model S. This means a flat floor with a battery inside it, and although there are two electric motors – one at the front and one at the rear – there’s no engine, so there’s lots of space for seven people and their luggage, including in the ‘boot’ under the bonnet.
The exterior looks like a tall Model S, and the interior has a futuristic feel, with virtually all the car’s controls being accessed via the huge iPad-like central touchscreen. Although we don’t like having to use a touchscreens to control all the functions is most cars, Tesla’s system actually works really well.
One of the car’s other main party tricks is the set of rear ‘falcon wing’ doors, which, at a touch of a button, rise skywards to give access to rear seat passengers. There are various sensors which Tesla says will prevent the doors opening into hazards such as low garage ceilings.
The outer seats in the middle row – mounted on a single post – move forward electrically to give access to the third row. All seats can fold flat.
The other ‘big idea’ in a Tesla is the ability for the company to update the car’s software remotely – another area where other manufacturers are lagging far behind. This can have benefits in a number of areas, ranging from updating the information on the touchscreen, to the self-driving ability of the vehicle, ie. Autopilot, which Tesla says can now drive the car in a way that is safer than a human can.
The Model X has eight surround cameras which allow for 360 degree vision, and twelve ultrasonic sensors provide detection of surrounding objects. Forward-facing radar sees through heavy rain, fog, dust, and beyond the vehicle ahead – helping to prevent accidents by providing simultaneous visibility in every direction.
The Model X was recently awarded a 5 star safety rating in America in every category and sub-category, making it the first SUV to ever earn a 5 star rating across the board.
Although the Model X doesn’t produce emissions that have an impact on local air quality, sitting in an electric car doesn’t necessarily stop you breathing in diesel fumes from the car in front. However the Model X even addresses this by featuring a medical grade HEPA filter which removes pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution from the cabin air.
Like the Model S, the Model X doesn’t have any form of on/off button; it comes to electronic life automatically when you sit in the driver’s seat.
You then select Drive – using a gear selector stalk on the right-hand side of the steering column from a Mercedes, possibly the one aspect of the car that doesn’t really fit in with the innovative concept of the car – and depress the accelerator, with a linear surge of torque resulting, propelling the car up to 60mph in under 5 seconds, all in virtual silence.
You’re now driving with zero tailpipe emissions, and if you don’t make a habit of accelerating to 60mph in under 5 seconds, you could drive for around 300 miles.
If you need to charge the car then you can take advantage of Tesla’s brilliant Supercharger network. We’ve driven around the UK in many electric cars over recent years, but it’s only Tesla’s supercharger network that has so far guaranteed that you can turn up and plug in with zero hassle. This can give you up to an 80% charge in just over half an hour, and so it really is feasible to drive around the UK in a Tesla with no range anxiety.
By the end of 2017, Tesla will have doubled the size of its global charging network to 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Chargers.
The huge central touchscreen not only displays charging stations, but displays which bays are currently free. This is way in advance of what any other manufacturer is doing to bring smart thinking to the search for charge points.
Driving the Model X is extremely quiet and refined, with a comfortable ride. It’s a pretty big, tall and heavy vehicle, so handling isn’t going to be agile, but having the main item of weight – ie. the battery – at the very bottom of the car means a low centre of gravity and certainly helps when cornering. You can change the weight of the steering via the touchscreen. It has electric all-wheel drive and Smart Air Suspension, which provides a range of ride height options.
One Model X feature – or issue –depending upon how you look at it – is the huge windscreen – ‘the largest glass panoramic windscreen in production’ – which extends right into the roof above the driver. Although there are sun blinds, this may be a bit too much light for some people when driving.
Despite the performance and the excellent driving range, the Model X has zero tailpipe emissions. The significance of this used to be in terms of CO2, but today the world has finally woken up to the issue of air quality, and of course the Model X emits no NOx or particulates. We’re going to need to live with the Model X for longer to report on its real-life driving range, but our time with the car so far suggests that you can sit at 70mph without the range display plummeting in a scary fashion like most EVs under such conditions. A factor in this is the car’s aerodynamics – at 0.24, the Model X is the most aerodynamic SUV in production.
Charging a Tesla at home overnight should cost between £0 – £15 depending upon how much charge is needed and on your electricity tariff.
It’s pretty much all good news with the Model X, so perhaps it will come as little surprise that you have to pay for such a capable all-round product; our Model X 90D cost £84,800 (after the £4,500 plug-in car grant). However it also had options of deep blue metallic paint (£1,000), white interior (£3,300), carbon fibre upgrade (£250), seven seat interior (£4,000), premium upgrades package (£4,500), sub-zero weather package (£1,000), destination & doc fee (£380), taking the total price of the car to £99,230 after the plug-in car grant.
There are four Model X variants: the 75D with a 75 kWh battery, giving an NEDC range of 259 miles; the 90D, as tested, with a 90 kWh battery, giving an NEDC range of 303 miles; the 100D with a 100 kWh battery, giving an NEDC range of 351 miles; and the P100D, which also has a 100 kWh battery, but with a 0-60mph time of 2.9 seconds, so the range is slightly less than the 100D, at 336 miles.
Model X prices start from £75,400 for the 75D. You can lease one from £641 per month, and it has a low 9% Benefit in Kind tax rate.
Tesla came out of nowhere with the Model S; a car company that had been around for less than 10 years had overtaken car companies that had been around for 100 years. Tesla has done it again with the Model X, which has all of the selling points of the Model S, but with more space and more go anywhere capability. As well as being electric and therefore zero emission, it has amazing performance, and it brings technology to the car industry that appears to come from another planet – which may explain what Elon Musk is actually doing with his SpaceX programme.
So the Model X genuinely pushes forward the boundaries of what can be done with cars to make them more sustainable as well as highly impressive to drive and to live with. But Tesla obviously isn’t done yet, we still have the Model 3 to come, which promises to be yet another revolution that other car manufacturers will have to catch up with.
We have no hesitation in awarding the Tesla Model X a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10. But it goes further than that; for the first time in 10 years, it has resulted in a significant recalibration of our rating system – all other cars tested from now on will have to really move the game on in a similar way to the Model X to achieve a 10 out of 10.
NEDC electric driving range: 303 miles
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km
Green rating: VED band A (£0)
Weight: 2389 kg (P90D)
Company car tax liability (2017/18): 9%
Price: £84,800 (after the current UK government Plug-in Car Grant of £4,500).
Insurance group: 50
Power: 503 bhp
Max speed: 155 mph
0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
Torque: 649 Nm