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Tesla Model X


Range Rover

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

Range Rover

Range Rover. Straight away, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Despite a growing model line-up that now includes the Evoque, Velar and the Range Rover Sport, just about everyone on Earth pictures the brand's big bruiser whenever they hear the name.

A true motoring icon, it might have started life as a posh farmer's tool, but it is now a fixture on suburban driveways everywhere. Big and bold, it's now far more stylish than the utilitarian original, yet still manages to be super-impressive off-road. I know this because I once drove one up a river. Not across, but up. Against the current, in water almost a metre deep.

For 2018, the Range Rover's interior has scored an upgrade and, as ever, a minor tweak in the specifications. But it's still a car that has few genuine rivals.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/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.


Range Rover7.5/10

The Range Rover is a car everyone knows - it's amazingly capable off-road, actually seats five full-size humans and casts a (huge) stylish shadow like no other. Now well into its sleeker fourth generation, it's ageing well and still holds its position as king of luxury SUVs, despite pretenders piling in from all corners.

I wasn't expecting to like the Range Rover. I knew I would respect it, but like? It turns out it's super-quiet, relaxed and, if you spend a few more bucks, has all the gadgets you need to manouevre it about and enjoy the ride, long or short.

Is the Range Rover still top of the pile? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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.


Range Rover8/10

One of the extraordinary things about Land Rover and sister company Jaguar is the sheer consistency of the design teams over the past decade or so. The Range Rover is a hefty machine, and while it looks big, it does not look as overbearing as a car five metres long and over 180cm tall could.

No, it's not a lithe CX-9 approach, but it maintains the muscular Rangie look with the blacked-out pillars and floating roof and the now-signature laid-back grille and lights. And on our black car, the blacked-out gills on the front doors looked terrific - sometime the lighter-coloured versions look a bit cheap.

Inside is swathed in leather with wood or, if you prefer, metallic finishes. Everything looks and feels substantial. The new 10-inch screen looks a lot more modern than the older version, and it sits atop a redesigned centre console with the new HVAC controls. The old dials on the steering wheel have also been replaced with touch-sensitive dials with digital displays. It's a nice mix of traditional shapes with advanced tech.

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.


Range Rover9/10

From the get-go, it's huge inside. There is lounging-room aplenty in the first and second rows, and rear seat occupants score their own set of climate controls.

Storage is everywhere, with two deep bins in the front and two front cupholders that slide away to reveal a space big enough for a beagle (okay, slight exaggeration). The rear also features two cupholders and each door will hold a bottle.

Boot space starts at a massive 639 litres and expands to 1943 litres with the rear seats down. There's a ton of space in the boot for things or a hefty dog.

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.


Range Rover7/10

The Vogue TDV6 starts at a fairly hefty $190,000. You might think that's a lot of money for a seven-seat SUV - and you'd be right.

You do alright for your money, though. The list contains 20-inch alloys, climate control, keyless entry and start, a comprehensive safety package, twin-view front screen, dynamic dampers, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, digital dash, electric heated front seats, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, acoustic heated windscreen, heated rear seats, partial leather seats, head-up display, active air suspension, heated steering wheel, powered gesture-activated tailgate and a full-size spare.

The new 'InControl' system now pairs with an all-new 10-inch touchscreen, and it looks terrific. The system is finally making some inroads (sorry) into the German competitors' in-car multimedia dominance.

Obviously it has sat nav, but it also has DAB, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a TV tuner, app connectivity (iffy, if I'm honest), and various off-road based stuff. The 13-speaker stereo is a belter, but, frustratingly, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. JLR keeps saying "watch this space", and after Mazda recently proved me wrong, it's a claim I'll take a little more seriously.

The car I had for the week also had the 'Pixel Laser' LED lights ($6490), 22-inch gloss black wheels ($5110), sliding panoramic roof ($4420), adaptive cruise ($3600!), black exterior pack ($2730), 'Vision Assist Pack' (foglights, interior ambient lighting and around-view cameras; $2040), Park Pack (rear cross-traffic alert, and side parking sensors; $1280), laminated windows ($830), 'Drive Pack' (blind-spot monitor; $820), wade sensing ($600), ebony headlining ($680), and few extra bits taking us to a grand total of $222,440.

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.


Range Rover7/10

Being a Range Rover, it's obviously all-wheel drive with a centre differential for the rough stuff. The TDV6 designation tells us it has a 3.0-litre turbodiesel good for 190kW and 600Nm to shift its substantial frame, weighing in at 2249kg. The dash from 0-100km/h comes up in a surprisingly spritely eight seconds dead, and towing capacity is a muscular 3500kg for a braked trailer.

The eight-speed transmission comes from ZF, and the Vogue even has an incongruous set of paddles for manual changes.

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.


Range Rover6/10

Land Rover's official combined cycle figure for the Vogue is listed at 6.9L/100km, but in my week with the car doing largely suburban running about, with some highway mixed in, we didn't event get close, returning 12.3L/100km.

Even so, the huge 86-litre tank will ensure you won't have to visit the servo too often.

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.


Range Rover8/10

A Range Rover drives like no other car. It feels big, but with that upright driving position, it's oddly relaxing. Despite needing a little extra attention to keep the car in the lane, the view out over the flat bonnet is pretty unique.

The air suspension provides a plush ride, but can occasionally get itself into a bit of a heaving-sea movement - as it did along a particular road near where I live. The rest of the time it completely insulates you from the road.

Of course, if I'd had the bravery to tackle some serious off-roading, the air suspension can lift the car from its low-riding city stance to 22cm, meaning you can wade through 90cm of water, which is around half the car's height. The people down the road weren't keen on me testing it in their pool. Spoilsports.

You can't easily escape the fact it's exactly five metres long - it squeezes into parking spaces, and the big mirrors help, too. At least the height is rather more commonplace than it was a decade or so ago, so you're less likely to bang into low ceilings.

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.


Range Rover8/10

The Vogue sports six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, rollover-stability control, hill-descent control, forward-collision warning, forward AEB, corner-braking control and trailer-sway control.

The Rangie scored a five star ANCAP safety rating in 2013.

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.


Range Rover7/10

Range Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the duration, which is now starting to look a bit skinny. The website assures me that not only does it cover the usual stuff, but you'll also be rescued if you're on four-wheel-drive only tracks, too.

You can cap your service prices with a service plan of up to five years/130,000km, and servicing is required every 12 months or 26,000km.