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Tesla Model X


BMW X4

Summary

Tesla Model X

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Tesla Model X SUV, with specs, energy consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Victoria.

At some point Tesla need to come clean... and admit they're aliens. That they're the first fleet of colonists belonging to a super advanced civilisation from another planet.

How else are their vehicles so fast? How else can they travel so far on electricity alone and then be charged so quickly? And how is it they've mastered fully autonomous technology while other car companies are just dabbling with experimental self-driving tech?

Wake up people, Elon Musk isn't Tesla's CEO he's General Eeeekbleeeergh from Centauri 1. Come on, his really bad human mask is a dead giveaway.

Okay, maybe not. But we were mighty impressed with the Model S when we reviewed it and now the Model X large SUV has arrived in Australia. Like the Model S the Model X is completely electric, and with a best 0-100km/h claim of 3.1s that doesn't just make it the fastest accelerating SUV around, it's actually one of the quickest cars on the planet.

So does this new gift from our alien overlords live up to the hype? Maybe it's quick to 100km/h but does it handle like a block of cheese at the first corner? Is it a practical SUV? Does it tow? And what made me want to throw up? We found out by piloting the angriest one in the range - the P100D.

Safety rating
Engine Type
Fuel TypeElectric
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

BMW X4

Love it or hate it you can’t say the X4 hasn’t been a hit for BMW, just like the bigger X6. Now the completely new version is here – the sequel to the original, the second-generation X4. But is it better?

This one is bigger – but does that solve the practicality issues of the previous one? The outside is completely restyled, but has the ageing interior of the past been turfed? And now that this is not just a rebodied X3 like the previous car was – does it feel like it has its own identity? And then there’s the wilder M40i - could this be the X4's ultimate form?

I found out this week at the new X4's Australian launch.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Tesla Model X8.6/10

Hugely impressive all round – from its brutal acceleration to its practicality. It's expensive when optioned to the hilt, but this is a special car. I miss the noise of petrol engines, though and the drama which goes with it. Alien technology, then? Nope, more likely the future of human travel. Just make sure you have the stomach for it.

Would you pick a Model X over an X6 or GLE Coupe? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


BMW X47.4/10

This is the X4 I wish BMW started with in 2014 – it feels a far more complete SUV and looks confident in its identity, with a thoroughly modern and cool interior. The M40i feels almost like a completely different car to the xDrive20i in the way it drives. Which reminds me, the X4 M will be here soon – now that is going to be a little monster.

As far as value goes the sweet spot in the range is the xDrive30i – a good price, a great engine, plenty or equipment.

Is this car this or that? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Design

Tesla Model X8/10

I'm pretty sure the designer who came up with the shape for the Model X was sitting at his computer and looked down at the mouse in his hand and said: "That's it! Now where are we having lunch?"

With coupe styling similar to BMW's X6 and Mercedes-Benz's GLE Coupe and with short overhangs like them too, the Model X is one sleek hunk of SUV. Actually at the time of writing the Model X is officially the most aerodynamic SUV on earth with a drag coefficient of 0.24, that makes it 0.01 slipperier than the Audi Q8 SUV Concept.

The Q8 will come as a fully electric SUV like the Model X, but the Benz GLE Coupe and BMW X6 run are powered by diesel and petrol only. The closest electric equivalent is the GLE 500e and the X5 xDrive 40e, but these are plug-in hybrids that still use petrol. The Model X is far closer in shape, size and spirit to the GLE Coupe and X6 - it's just that their electric versions haven't been born yet.

The Model X is just short of drop-dead gorgeous, just short because there are some elements which while they may make aerodynamic sense aren't that aesthetically pleasing. Sure electric cars don't need a grille, but its face is a bit plain without a mouth. The way the rear of the car ends abruptly like it's been sawn off reminds me of the Toyota Prius's bottom.

What makes it possible to overlook these not-so-pretty points are stunning design features such as the massive swept back windscreen, the wheel arches filled with giant 22-inch rims and those upward opening Falcon Wing doors.

That slippery shape also hides just how enormous the Model X is but the dimensions don't. At 5037mm end to end the Model X is 137mm longer than the Benz GLE Coupe and 128mm more than the BMW X6. The width with mirrors folded out is 2271mm which is 142mm wider than the GLE Coupe and 101mm  more than the X6. But at 1680mm the Model X isn't as tall as them – the GLE coupe is 1709mm and the X6 is 1702mm.

Ground clearance ranges from 137-211mm, which is not bad for an SUV.

It may be an SUV but the Model X has all the Tesla hallmarks – from that window profile to the featureless face. The same goes for the cabin with its giant display, beautiful high-quality materials and stylish design.


BMW X48/10

The X4 is all about the design, well maybe not all but a large part of the appeal of this SUV is its styling,  which can polarise opinion more than a dinner party conversation that turns to politics. These opinions don't matter anyway, because it seems the reason some people don’t like it is exactly why some do. 

Like the X6, the X4 is an in-your-face SUV with fastback styling. The X4 does look like a ‘Mini Me’ version of the X6, but it’s actually the X3’s twin under the skin, sharing the same platform and engines. But unlike the first generation this new X4 was built in conjunction with the X3 and not just a rebodied afterthought version of the X3.

While this second-generation X4 shape may appear to look a lot like the original X4 from 2014, there have been some big changes.

Let’s start with dimensions, because this SUV is now slightly bigger. At 4752mm end-to-end the length (4733mm for the M40i) has grown by 81mm and it’s 37mm wider at 1918mm (1938mm for the M40i), but 3mm shorter in height at 1621mm tall. 

Its profile is less humpy and more sleek, too. Edges have been smoothed especially around the tailgate which now looks more minimalistic, while the big taillights have been replaced by thin blade-like units.

The headlights have been redesigned and the kidney grille is now enormous – and possibly too large, with structural supports behind it being clearly visible. Have a look at the video above – when the SUV is driving towards the camera they are hard not to see, and once you notice, it’s hard to unsee.

You can tell the sporty top-of-the-range M40i by its grey grille treatment and side vents,  plus a trapezoidal dual exhaust. The front bumper is more aggressive than the lower grades, but there’s not much in the way of a tough body kit – even the roof spoiler is low key.

The changes to the X4’s cabin are just as significant. See, there’s only so much cosmetic surgery a car company can do to slow the aging of a cabin before a new generation is needed to start fresh.

The previous X4’s cockpit was starting to date with its small-ish touch screen, analogue instrument dials and older styling, but the new X4’s cabin is impressive with a large dash-top display, a fully digital instrument cluster and modern styling. BMW owners will still find it familiar, with the layout of controls almost identical to every car in the BMW line-up.

Have the interior dimensions grown as well? Is there more legroom? And how does that roofline affect anybody with a head in the back seats? Skip forward to practicality or keep reading to find out what you get for your money.

Practicality

Tesla Model X8/10

Yes it's fast and electric but if you take the utility out of an SUV you're left with just a sports vehicle, right? So the Model X needs to be practical – and it is.

There are five seats as standard, but you can option six or seven seat layouts. The GLE coupe, the X6, even the Q8 (when it finally arrives) only have room for five. All are individual buckets seats in the Model X – two in the front, three in the second row and two more in the third in the case of the seven seater.

Now the real test. I'm 191cm tall, so apart from being refused entry onto some amusement park rides sitting behind my own driving position can be a challenge in various cars. In the Model X I fit but with about a thumb nail's gap – which is fine. Headroom is good because of the recessed windows in the Falcon Wing doors' which become the roof when closed.

The P100D we drove was optioned with seven seats. Back in the third row headroom is limited because of the roofline. Legroom is adjustable because the second row seat can slide forward but I couldn't sit behind myself. The third row really is for kids or Danny DeVito – entry though is excellent thanks to that sliding second row.

Storage is good with six cup holders (two in each row of seats), medium sized bottle holders in the front doors (the back doors don't because, gravity), a large centre console bin, and a glovebox.

There's no engine under the bonnet and so it becomes a front boot (a froot?). The combined luggage capacity of the froot and the back boot (with the third row folded) is 2180 litres.

All doors open automatically – the front ones and the rear Falcon wings. They are a bit slow and forcing them only makes them grind their motors angrily. They're a great party trick but if you're getting in and out frequently – as I was when doing the photo shoot, they become a hassle.

The Falcon doors are clever, though, in that they can open in just 30cm of space either side of the vehicle.


BMW X46/10

I was afraid you were going to ask this. Even though the X4 shares so much of the X3’s engineering the body itself limits space inside – which is just the price you pay for the coupe roofline.

So, while the boot capacity may sound good at 535 litres (and that’s only 25 litres less than the X3) the sloped rear window and roof will limit you from carrying taller items. With the rear seats folded down you have 1430 litres at your disposal.

Legroom in the second row of the previous X4 was pretty good, but it’s been improved further now that the wheelbase of has been increased in this second generation. At 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with 30mm to spare, thanks also to the cleverly designed front seatbacks, too.

Headroom is where it starts to get ‘iffy’. If you’re as tall as me, you’ll be ok, just, but that roofline drops towards the back so quickly that anybody taller is going to be uncomfortable, especially if there’s a sunroof, which lowers ceiling further.

Up front there are no space issues. BMW says it’s a driver-orientated car which I have a feeling is a diplomatic way of saying only the driver will have the plenty of space and comfort, that and all the dials and control are angled in the pilot’s direction. I was the front passenger for a couple of hours and can report that leg, head and shoulder room was fine for me during my time riding shotgun. 

Cabin storage isn’t bad, but could be better. There are large bottle holders in all of the doors, and there are two cup holders up front, but there aren’t cupholders in the back and the  bin under the front centre armrest isn’t huge.

Price and features

Tesla Model X9/10

The P100D is the king of Model Xs (the P stands for Performance, the D for Dual motors) and has a list price of $271,987. Under this is the $194,039 100D, then below that is the 90D for $187,671 and then the line-up's 75D entry variant for $166,488.

Yes the P100D we drove is $100K more than the entry car, but you do get some sweet standard features.  Things like the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade which drops the 0-100km/h time from 5.0 seconds to 3.1 seconds. There's the higher capacity battery for increased range and performance, plus the rear spoiler with three height settings. The Falcon wing doors are standard, too.

Other standard features found on each variant include the 17-inch touch screen, nine-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connectivity and front and rear parking sensors. Not counting the reversing camera the Model X also comes equipped with seven other cameras – these are for the Enhanced Autopilot self-driving option ($7500) which is currently being developed but will be rolled out soon according to Tesla.

Standard as a five seater, a six seat option costs $4500 and seven seats will need you to part with $6000.

Our test vehicle was also fitted with the optional Towing Package – yup you can tow with the Model X. It's braked towing capacity is 2500kg.

Our test car with all of its options was pushing the $300K mark.


BMW X48/10

How much does an X4 cost? It depends which one you get – there are four grades in the line-up. The range starts with the petrol xDrive20i with a list price of $76,900 and there’s its diesel twin, the xDrive20d for $79,900. 

Both come standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, digital radio, six-speaker stereo, cloth-leather seats, auto parking, a head-up display, adaptive suspension, LED headlights, M leather steering wheel and 19-inch alloy wheels. If you want Apple CarPlay you’ll have to option it for $623. Like all BMW's, there's no Android Auto available.

The next grade up is the xDrive30i and it looks to be the best value in the range with a list price of $83,900. It adds full leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, proximity keys, adaptive LED headlights and 20-inch alloys.

At the top of the range is the M40i at $109,900, and it brings adaptive M suspension and an M Sport differential. There’s a 16-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo, panoramic sunroof, wood trim, heated front seats, ambient lighting and 21-inch M alloy wheels.

The optional Innovations package adds wireless charging, proximity keys and the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster for $2200 on the 20i and 20d. 

There’s also the $2800 Comfort package which brings heated seats with lumbar support, ambient lighting and wood trim.

As for colours only Alpine White is free – the rest you’ll pay for. Carbon Black, Glacier Silver, Sophisto Grey, Flamenco Red and Phytonic Blue cost $1950, while Sunstone Metallic is $2300.  

How does the X4’s price compare to rivals? As a model comparison there’s the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe which starts at about $70,000 and heads north to a bit more than $100,000; also check out Jaguar’s F Pace which lives in the same price range and Porsche’s Macan is more expensive at $80-147,000 but did you consider you can step into a Porsche for $10,000 more than the base X4?

Engine & trans

Tesla Model X9/10

The Model X is all wheel drive. The P100D has a 193kW/330Nm at the front axle and a 375kW/600Nm at the rear; the rest of the variants just have the 193kW/330Nm motor front and rear.

There is no transmission in the traditional sense, just a single fixed ratio (1:8.28) gear. That means smooth, strong instantaneous oomph.


BMW X48/10

There are four grades in the X4 line-up, a different engine for each and the most affordable is the least powerful.

The xDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol and makes 135kW and 290Nm. The xDrive20d has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and produces 140kW but an impressive 400Nm of torque. 

The xDrive30i is also a 2.0-litre petrol four but makes 185kW and 350Nm, which should be enough for most people but if it isn’t then there’s the six-cylinder turbo petrol xDriveM40i which puts out 265kW and 500Nm.

All grades are all-wheel drive and come with an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. You’re not going to find a manual here.

While the X4 is all-wheel drive, dirt and gravel roads are as adventurous as you should probably get in this SUV. Ground clearance is 204mm which is better than most regular cars.

Fuel consumption

Tesla Model X9/10

The P100D has a 100kWh battery pack which is stored under the floor. The NEDC official range for the P100d is 542km, but in reality Tesla says that your range on a full charge is about 100k less than that.

The 100D also has the 100kWh battery, but with a range of 656km NEDC. Following on from that is the 90D with a 90kWh (489km) and the 75D with the 75kWh battery (417km).

Charging through one of Tesla's Supercharger stations will put 270km into the battery in 20 minutes, while the wall unit which comes free (you have to pay to install it) will top it up at 40km per hour. There's also a charging cable which will plug straight into your power point at home – it's a lot slower at about 10-15km per hour but fine as a last resort.


BMW X48/10

According to official combined figures, the four-cylinder diesel engine in the xDrive20d uses the least fuel of all X4s at 5.8L/100km. The most fuel-efficient petrol engine is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder in the xDrive20i and the xDrive30i, with both rated at 7.8L/100km. The six-cylinder petrol in the M40i is the thirstiest at 9.2L/100km.   

Driving

Tesla Model X9/10

I've had a couple of brushes with car sickness in the past, but never as a driver – until now. So full-on is the Model X P100Ds acceleration and my need to drive every car like it's a rally stage that I managed to make myself a little bit... ahem queasy.

It's not so much car sick, as train sick because piloting the Model X is like driving a high speed train – you've got that instantaneous sledgehammer acceleration, you're seated fairly high and the view from the cockpit with the giant windscreen (the largest in production) is cinematic. The bonnet is short and dips away so much so that the base of the windscreen appears to be the front of the car. Combine this with almost total silence and the only indication that you're travelling at warp speed is what feels like a punch in the guts and the landscape rushing towards you.

It's almost totally silent because there is a faraway hum of electric motors and I also picked up a bit of wind noise that seemed to come from around the rear doors. Apart from that the cabin is so well insulated there was next to no road noise.

How did it handle when it came to the first corner? Gobsmackingly well. The course wasn't an easy one either. Tesla had chosen the Black Spur – one of the best driving roads in Victoria that twists its way from Healesville to Marysville. I've driven it in everything from hot hatches to family sedans, but the Model X would be up there in proper sports car territory.

With the batteries running along the floor there's a low centre of mass and that goes a long way to reducing body roll and the air suspension not only gives the SUV a comfortable ride but great handling too.

Steering is on the heavier side, but it's quick and accurate.

Braking is almost not needed. As soon as you lift off the accelerator regenerative braking washes off speed quickly.

The driver's seat felt a bit tight around my legs - blame my height – but comfortable across my back - a bit on the firmer side through – some would say supportive.

While forward visibility is unrivalled, the small back window is hard to see through – the reversing camera is excellent, however.

The drive was only a short one, but in my 50km blast I used an average of 329Wh/km. The car wasn't fully charged when I set out and the gauge told me it had about 230km 'in the tank'. Upon returning there was just 138km left – but I was driving hard enough for me to make myself sick.


BMW X48/10

My main takeaway from the original X4 launch in 2014 was that the suspension seemed to be over sprung, which resulted in a jittery, pogo stick-like ride. 

This has been fixed for the new X4. The ride is outstanding, even on the giant 21-inch wheels of the M40i.

Helping achieve this is the M40i’s M Sport adaptive suspension – you can either lock it in Comfort or Sport, but adaptive will adjust the dampers on the fly by ‘reading’ your driving style.

I only had the chance to drive the M40i and the xDrive20i – so the top and bottom of the range. The pick for me is surprise, surprise, the M40i. While it’s not a hardcore M car, it comes under BMW’s M Performance banner, or somewhere in between mild and wild.

Its straight six is a beautiful engine. The sound, the grunt, and the power delivery through the eight-speed auto is wonderful, with great acceleration. BMW claims it will do 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, the 2.0-litre four cylinder in the xDrive20i isn't flawed, but to me it just doesn’t have the bark or power to match those fighting-dog looks. Or the handling. The M40i feels taut, planted and confident in the corners despite it being an SUV with a high centre of gravity. That M Sport differential is there to reduce under and oversteer, too. The xDrive20i handles well, but more body roll reminds you that you’re not in a Z4.

What didn’t I like, about the driving experience? Visibility out the slim rear window from my driving positition is terrible, but the auto parking system and reversing camera partially solves that problem. Also, the steering in the xDrive20i feels a little numb – it’s accurate and well weighted but I like more feedback. The M40i has the same issue, but to a lesser degree.

Safety

Tesla Model X9/10

The Model X does not yet have an ANCAP rating, but all the signs are there that it is likely to easily score the maximum five stars. There's 12 airbags, AEB and when once the Enhanced Autopliot software is ready for download it will be fully autonomous, meaning it will drive you to where ever you need to go without you having to steer it – but check the regulations in your area before you get carried away with this, okay?

There were ISOFIX mounts and top tether points in all five of the back seats in our test car.


BMW X47/10

The new-generation X4 is based on the X3 which was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2017. Coming standard across the range is AEB, but in the xDrive20i and xDrive20d it’s a city version which only operates at lower speeds. Step up to the xDrive30i and you’ll get the full AEB which also operates at highway speeds and brings adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance. All grades come with LED headlights, lane departure warning and auto parking.

For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts in the second row and three top tether anchor points.

All grades come with run-flat tyres rather than a spare.

I gave the X4 a better score here than the first-generation car I reviewed earlier in 2018 because of the increase in advanced safety technology. That said, the new X4 did not score an even higher mark because the AEB offered on the 20i and 20d is limited to city speeds. They also miss out on blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance. Also, considering the poor rearward visibility, all X4s should be equipped with reverse AEB and rear cross traffic alert.

Ownership

Tesla Model X8/10

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.


BMW X46/10

The X4 is covered by BMW’s three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which is in line with its German luxury competition but lags behind the five-year status quo among mainstream brands.

Servicing is condition-based but you can pre-purchase a variety of service packages to add a bit of certainty to the maintenance bills. Terms range from three years or 60,000km to 10 year or 200,000km, and are available in Basic or Plus levels, with the Plus adding brake pad and disc, clutch and wiper blade replacement. 

As an example, the Basic pack costs $1495 for five years/80,0000km, while the Plus package costs $2680 for the same terms.

I'm giving the X4 a fairly low mark here based on the short warranty and the need to pre-purchase the service packages.