Nedahl Stelio

22 Dec 2017 • 17 min read

Reasons I wanted to try out a Tesla:

 

1) It's an electric car with no engine.
2) It’s seriously fast (one of the fastest cars on the planet).
3) Elon Musk, natch.

All good reasons, and then I found out they made an SUV version. Hold me back and tackle me down, I couldn’t WAIT to try it. 

I’d always pictured the sleek sports cars only. But the Tesla Model X 100D I drove for one glorious, glorious week was a seven seater (you can get it in a five or six seater if you prefer). Is it possible there is a superfast car that also actually works for families, so you don’t feel like you’re in a ‘mum’ car? Welcome to the car of the future.

How does it drive?

Like you’re driving a cloud. It’s smooth, it’s silent, it’s light. Quite honestly, it’s a pleasure to coast along the road like you’re in some kind of rocketship, rather than a road vehicle, and I found myself making excuses all week to get into it.

It positively zooms up the hill near my house I test all cars on, and without a doubt is the fastest car I’ve ever driven (it goes from 0-100kms/hr in 3.1 seconds, which according to my CarsGuide colleagues is basically unheard of. Especially in an SUV).

There’s no question you’ll be faster than the car next to you. There’s no question you’ll be faster than the car next to you.

So overtaking is hilariously easy. There’s no question you’ll be faster than the car next to you so you’re supremely confident on the road. Couple that with the size of the car (big) and the silence while you’re doing it (there’s no engine, so no loud growl while going up hills or pedaling to the floor), and you have an all-around driving experience that makes you feel amazing. It. Is. Fun.

It’s also clever, with features like regenerative braking, so when you take your foot off the accelerator, it automatically cuts the power so the car slows down. It means you barely need to use your brakes and also saves power.  You can turn this feature off if you don’t like it.

The Model X a long car, and you’d think parking wouldn’t be the easiest because visibility out the small back windscreen is quite poor. But the reversing camera is 360 degrees, huge, and also tells you how many centimetres the car is away from hitting something, so it’s surprisingly simple to park.

Same with the turning circle, which is a large 12.4, but the gears are on the steering wheel and change in less than a second, so doing three-point turns is a breeze. There’s no struggling with the steering wheel or even moving your hands from it.

The turning circle is a large 12.4 metres. The turning circle is a large 12.4 metres.

How does it look?

Three words: Giant. Front. Windscreen. It extends all the way to the top of the front row seats and  is basically a sunroof, but the best kind of sunroof you could hope for, with shading on the top so you don’t get harsh sun in your eyes and lets in an abundance of natural light. The middle section, too, has a separate sunroof for each side, and if you look at the car from above, it’s like the whole roof is glass.

  • Three words: Giant. Front. Windscreen. Three words: Giant. Front. Windscreen.
  • The outside is sleek and curved and looks amazing. The outside is sleek and curved and looks amazing.

One of the things I love the most is how non-flashy it is from the outside. It’s sleek and curved and looks amazing, but there’s no huge TESLA signage. It’s a small logo. It has no enormous grille on the front, so doesn’t scream CAR at you. It’s understated and elegant. It’s only when you double click on the door of the key and the back doors open upward like a giant bird, and then step inside the car that you realise you’re in luxury.

Yes, the key is a tiny model of the car (like a toy car), and you click the part of the car you want to open. Click the boot and it will open. Click the doors and they will open. So the fun starts from the moment you pick up the key.

Inside, the Model X is pure luxury. Buttery leather seats that are heated all the way back to number seven, along with a leather covered dash, steering wheel and the entire door makes the car a dream to look at and touch. The version I drove had wooden accents on the interior and complimented the cream leather. Plus the seats are ridiculously comfortable. It’s basically like being in your lounge room.

  • Inside, the Model X is pure luxury. Inside, the Model X is pure luxury.
  • A leather covered dash, steering wheel and the entire door makes the car a dream to look at and touch. A leather covered dash, steering wheel and the entire door makes the car a dream to look at and touch.
  • The seats are ridiculously comfortable. The seats are ridiculously comfortable.

How spacious is it?

There is loads of space in the front seats, with legroom for days and plenty of your own airspace in each seat. Because of the giant windscreen, everything is light and airy. The second row is also really quite large, and when the back doors open, you can actually stand up inside the car (well I could, I’m 161cm). There was lots of room for my two girls (aged four and six), and if you need another child seat in the middle there will be space for that too.

The back row has just enough room for me to fit, so I would put small adults and children in the third row. Because the sunroofs let in lots of light, and there are also air vents in the third row which are as strong as the ones in the front row, you don’t feel like you’ve drawn the short straw. I don’t think there is a short straw in this car.

Boot space when all three rows are in use is still big enough to fit a full load of groceries, and the underfloor storage is large and deep. Also, there is no engine. So when you pop the hood, there is actually another boot for extra storage.

With the third row down, the boot is very large, enough to fit whatever you need for the children. And with all seats down you could transport a bus inside. Okay that’s an exaggeration. But it’s big.

  • With the third row down the boot is large enough to fit whatever you need for the children. With the third row down the boot is large enough to fit whatever you need for the children.
  • Boot space is big enough to fit a full load of groceries. Boot space is big enough to fit a full load of groceries.
  • The underfloor storage is large and deep. The underfloor storage is large and deep.

How easy is it to use every day?

Let’s talk about the wing doors because that’s really why we’re all here, right? And they are quite fabulous. My children could not get enough of them. But there are controls so if you don’t want kids to open their own door, you touch a button and they’ll be locked to back passengers.

The big question I’ve had from people this week is whether they’ll hit the roof in a small car park and the answer is no. They won’t. They only need 30cm of width to open, and they have sensors which means they’ll open only to where it is safe if they sense an object in the way.

I parked next to a pole in Westfield and the door opened just enough to be able to get out - with actually more room than you would get in a normal door.

I parked next to a pole in Westfield and the door opened just enough to be able to get out. I parked next to a pole in Westfield and the door opened just enough to be able to get out.

The driver’s door opens on approach if you’ve got your key in your hand, which is a nice touch, and all the other doors open with the (model car) key, or you can open and close all doors with the touchscreen. Fairly handy.

Storage in the front is well designed with four cupholders (finally, four cupholders!) and a spot to throw your keys/phone/wallet, too. It’s quite simple, not fussy, and is exactly what you need. There are two cupholders in the second row and two cupholders in the third row as well as storage in the front doors.

The third row is easy to pop up and down, and the second row, while a tiny bit heavy, is simple enough to move forward so you can get into the third row, and also to lay down flat.

I found the back window tricky to see out of, but as mentioned, the reversing camera is great, and you find yourself relying on that more often than the window.

It doesn’t come with a spare tyre and explains on the website: “Spare tyres add weight which reduces range. In the event of a flat, please contact Tesla roadside assistance. Emergency tyre inflation kits are available for purchase.” So you wouldn’t want to run over a nail.

What’s the tech like?

Let’s start with the 17 inch touchscreen which controls the entire car. It does make you wonder what would happen if it broke, because I can’t even imagine how much parts are to replace. But let’s set that aside for a moment and focus on the clever screen that really does do everything.

From air con to the radio, to setting various suspension levels and the sat nav, to opening and closing doors and introducing 'Easter Eggs', which are basically entertaining points there just for fun, it really does do everything. It’s also remarkably easy to use.

If you own a Tesla you download the Tesla app which connects to your car and you can remotely do things like turn the air con on before you get in the car, so it’s cool/warm by the time you get in. Or activate the ‘summon’ feature which reverses or drives the car out of the garage for you (just forward and back is possible, to help you get out of a tight garage space).

Just like your iPhone, the car gets updates from Tesla, which you’re notified of (on the giant screen) when you next get in. New driving features and Easter Eggs are introduced this way.

The 17 inch touchscreen really does do everything. The 17 inch touchscreen really does do everything.

How safe is it?

Tesla claims it’s the safest SUV ever. The weight of the battery along the bottom of the car helps prevent rollovers. There are 12 airbags - head and knee airbags in the front, two side curtain airbags, four seat-mounted side airbags, and two door-mounted airbags. 360 degree vision with eight cameras and parking sensors that tell you how many centimetres you are away from close objects, stop you from having scrapes while parking. This was an excellent feature, especially in our poky carpark with turns that take about seven manouevres to get a big car out.

It’s got Auto Emergency Braking and there are four top tether points and five ISOFIX points for children’s car seats. There is an 'Auto Pilot' feature which means you can set the car to drive itself, along with adaptive cruise control. All you need to do is keep your hands on the wheel for safety and the car will drive itself.  Note, this is to use on highways only and is still in Beta (testing) phase.

How does it charge?

This is the big question. So, if you own a Tesla, your garage will be fitted with a Tesla charger (you’ll have to pay to install it) and you’ll be able to plug in and charge  every night. It charges at a rate of 40km per hour.

There are Tesla 'Supercharger' stations dotted across the country, and while they’re not everywhere, they have placed them strategically so you can drive from Melbourne to Brisbane. They take around 40 minutes to charge to 540km.

Other charging stations have been installed in places like shopping centres and hotels, with the intent on fitting in your lifestyle (charge while you shop). They charge as fast as the ones in your home (they can take up to eight hours), but you don’t need a full charge to drive.

There’s also a last resort portable charger which takes a while (10-15kms/hour) but is fine as a last resort.

Charging is an easy process: you plug in, it locks, and you leave it to do its thing.

It will tell you on the screen how much charge you have left, and also how far away the next charging station is. If you key in a destination on the sat nav, it tells you how much charge you’ll have left once you get there.

If all goes to plan and you charge it every night, you should be fine, but we’re not all perfect human beings who perform tasks like clockwork. And if you’re a road trip person, you will need to plan your trip.

How much does it cost to run?

Yes, the Tesla Model X is truly a dream to drive. But it costs. A lot. The Model X range starts at $139,233 and goes up to over $270,000. I drove the 100d which starts at $142,900, the one I had came in at $188,961 with all of the extras in it.

The Model X is covered by a four year/80,000km warranty, while the battery and drive unit has an eight year, infinite kilometre warranty.


The Wrap

The Tesla Model X is a beautiful car to drive. It’s smooth, silent and let's not forget, fast. You don’t feel like you’re in a family car because it’s so special, but it is a fabulous car for families. Spacious and practical with incredible technology. I found it hard to fault. If only I could afford one. And that is the issue. The price. Look, there’s no doubting this is the car of the future and really, what we should all be driving - free of petrol at last! But it’s seriously expensive.

I gave it 9 out of 10 taking one whole point off for the cost. My girls gave it a full 10 out of 10. They don’t know the value of money yet.

Likes

Electric car
Luxury interior
Novelty doors

Dislikes

The cost
Not as many charging stations

Scores

Nedahl:

4.5

The Kids:

5

$147,700

Based on new car retail price

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