Tesla Model X Review: Is it worth the hype and the price? hmmmmm

It may just be I am peeking out of a whole new reality distortion field.

Pinch my, I’m dreaming.  I’m worried I’m not in love with Tesla in the same way that I once was!  And this is a concern not because of the huge interest in the Tesla car company and its products – but because I have a $1,500 holding deposit on my very own Tesla Model 3 – a car yet to even enter production.

This past weekend I had the luxury of a Tesla Model X in my driveway. What a great car – the concept of it is to put up to seven seats into an all-electric SUV – and as Tesla’s own marketing says this car is designed with safety first in mind.

That’s appealing to me on so many levels – we should be doing everything we can to reduce the road toll, and as a parent I’ll do whatever I can to keep my kids safe.

This comes at a price

The Tesla Model X is an expensive car, $150,000 starting price – at best. As Chris just found out, you can get a luxury Lexus for half that.  So how do we justify that price.

Firstly, there’s the ongoing cost savings from not buying petrol ever again – that’s a huge windfall into your weekly budget.  Yep, you’ll be charging at home, but still the price is lower per km than petrol – much lower.  And if you can afford a Tesla, you can probably afford Solar Panels to bring the cost down to almost nothing.

Yes, this car like the Model S before it, has a stunning 17 inch centre console display.   And with all the torque you could want – at your foot – it’s something very awesome to drive too.

But the car I drove this weekend was $300,000.  It’s the 100D model, which means more range and more power. At $200,000 – it’s a step up.   Add in a few extras, then the GST, Luxury Car Tax and Stamp Duty and we’re talking $305,000.

What’s missing

Despite many years now of development, it seems Tesla’s only focus is their Autopilot functionality.   There is still not Head-up display.  And despite the many many cameras all around this car – no 360 degree reversing camera.

The car I drove didn’t have Autopilot enabled, and with that there was not even lane departure alerts – the Toyota Corolla Hybrid I’m driving has that for crying out loud.

Too smart by half?

Those falcon-wing doors – Impressive right? Yep, totally.  But sadly, they closed in on me or my family three times.

The first was when my daughter was getting in the car – I sat in the front seat.  The second, my mother in law and son were standing beside the car – beep – and down they come.

In all cases, they will stop and go up – if they hit something, but not all that re-assuring given something has to be hit.

They are super smart.  They can detect the space beside them and above them and actuate accordingly on the right angles to go up or down.

But if you accidentally click lock on the key – they will come down.

All three times this was the case.  The last time was my reaching into the boot which came down on me – but I used my MacGyver like skills to avoid it.

All three times – my fault.  Key was in my pocket.  It squeezed and triggered.  My only thought is that perhaps a double click to close is better than one click?  You learn these things, but now every time the kids get in they say “Dad, quick before they hit us” and that’s not cool at all.

The Family Car?

So my real lust for this was the idea it was a family car.  In Australia the Model S is only a five seater – the rearward facing “boot” seats are not legal here.   So as a genuine five, six or seven seater – this had some desirability.

When I picked the car up, I transferred two large booster seats for my two under seven year old children.  I was told that all four rear seats in this six seater configuration were capable of taking the car seats.  Wow.  Even a Honda Odyssey can’t match that frankly.

ISOFix was available on all seats, as was standard tether restraint.

I locked the kids seats in the third row for simplicity and decided to head off.  The problem is, neither my five or six year old could buckle their own seatbelt.  Nor is there any seatbelt alert visible from the driver’s seat.

The issue is, the seatbelt mechanism folds down into a recess for a nice look – but get a child to pull that out AND put in their seatbelt buckle and you’re asking for them to perform brain surgery.

Problem Solved: I placed a small face-washer underneath the mechanism so they stayed pointing up.  A simple fix, and honestly, shouldn’t be needed.

When I got home I decided to put the kids into the second row instead.  Sat the booster down, extended the tether strap and hooked it in right down the bottom of this impressive futuristic seat.

However, this futuristic seat has such a sleek design the straps won’t stay up.  They fall down the side like the straps on the shoulder of a loose-fitting dress worn by a slightly tipsy woman on a Saturday night.  Except this is my kids I’m talking about.  It’s simply not possible.

Now, it’s a first world problem for a reviewer with two car seats – anyone with $300,000 to buy this car would simply buy two new ISOFix compatible seats – ok – done.

The Drive

Oh man, Insane.  That’s how the acceleration is best described – sure it’s called Ludicrous mode but as I took the boys from the local servo for a run, it was described more like a carnival ride – intense and just amazing.

But you don’t need that.  In fact, I wouldn’t bother with it as an ownership decision.  You’re really buying the range from the 100D model, not the ludicrous mode.  And that range will get you over 500km of good driving, easy.

Ride and handling is somewhat separated from reality, the steering feels a touch floaty, and the ride is a bit bumpier than I would like, though on good roads you’ll never complain.

The front windscreen is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen, and other manufacturers would envy it – a long sweeping glass that goes all the way over your head when driving – heavily tinted to ensure it’s not distracting – it gives you some extra viewing area and for whatever it’s worth it’s a real bonus behind the wheel.

Inside and Out

This is every bit a Tesla.  Sleek likes, great style.  The fit and finish is excellent, but still not German or Italian quality.  The interior bits and bobs will move around if you shake them and the panel gaps on the outside seem more than I would accept through quality control

The mounts for these second row seats are a design and engineering highlight – stunning

I’m being very picky here, very.  Because you’re spending a LOT of Money, and it’s important to remember there are plenty of other options that will save you coin – however I know full well they won’t give you the same looks at the lights or questions at the shops.

Reality Distortion

People famously described the “cult of Apple” as a Reality Distortion field surrounding Steve Jobs.  One that still exists today around the company.  We like to want and believe their products are more amazing than perhaps they are – but in reality, they are more amazing than most of their competitors.

I believe Tesla to be the same – our lust for a company so innovative, so groundbreaking is intense.  God love them for bringing genuine change to the motoring industry.

This is – along with the Model S – the most unique car you can own today.  And it’s a joy to own.

You need to justify the cost, to yourself, and your wife – but once you’ve done that, you won’t be disappointed.

Yep, I’ve got my questions – nope, I wouldn’t buy a Model X.  But I’m somewhere in the line for a Model 3 – and if it is as affordable as is hoped, then it will be a winner – because it’s not meant to be a high priced car.  It will – no doubt, be more expensive than its direct competitors, that’s always going to be the way – if it’s $60,000 or less – then the force will be strong with this one.

If the number of Model X at the Sydney showroom and service centre is anything to go by – they’re selling bloody well!

Tesla Model X 100D
Date Published: 04/24/2017
Sensational to drive, stunning technology, has some quirks to learn and tweaks required
4 / 5 stars
Categories
Motoring

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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One Comment
  • JCane
    5 May 2017 at 11:35 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Did you drive the 100D or the P100D? Your review says the 100D, but you talk about ludicrous which is only on the P100D. I ask as they’re rather different and the P100D is almost half as much money again as the 100D.

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