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Best of 2023

Opinion: yes, the Tesla Cybertruck isn't for everyone... but we still like it

A Top Gear Guilty Pleasure: the Cybertruck is a controversial car, but isn't it good it bucks trends?

Published: 25 Dec 2023

By now you will have watched our Cybertruck video, or read the review, or been bombarded by my shonky phone videos on Instagram… or all of the above and bought the t-shirt. Either way, you now know there are all sorts of reasons to dislike the Tesla Cybertruck. I shall list a few.

It appears to have been drawn by a six-year old child who just discovered the joys of a ruler. It refuses to comply with any sort of car design convention and normal development protocols – namely, you don’t usually design a concept car then point at it and say “I want that one” because it causes designers and engineers several years’ worth of migraines, but Elon Musk did.

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On the subject of Elon, and putting his obvious visionary genius to one side, he’s a person that makes himself, and therefore the products he hawks, quite hard to like. The Cybertruck is a product that is actively marketed as bullet resistant. Indeed they shot it with a tommy gun and released the video at the handover party last month. This is a) useless in the real world and b) will probably encourage some horribly dangerous YouTube content in the near future.

Since first being announced in 2019, the price has gone up and the range has gone down, unless you pay even more to strap another 50kWh ‘range-extender’ battery into the bed. It has no buttons on the inside, not even indicator stalks, which is incredibly annoying. Some edges on the panels are straight-up dangerous – I didn’t cut myself, but someone will soon - and the over-sensitive steer-by-wire and four-wheel steering system is just plain odd at low speeds.

But I still like it. I like that I couldn’t apply the normal road test handbook to reviewing it, that it exists in a grey area where panel gaps and potential injury don’t matter to customers because it’s so bonkers and exciting to them that they’ll buy it anyway. I like the way that it confuses the hell out of people on the street – like the man who refused to believe it was real even when I told him it was a production truck. Or the bloke who kept telling his friend it was a movie car, even when I told him it really wasn’t.

I like the fact that I’ve been asked about it by my Auntie and neighbours and all sorts of people who wouldn’t normally care about cars, but have been caught in the Cybertruck’s web of fascination. I like that while it’s not as innovative as Tesla would like you to believe, that it’s been engineered properly to handle better than traditional trucks, that it doesn’t have an enormous battery built-in to chase a 500-mile headline range figure, but it’ll reap all the benefits of a fast-charging 800V architecture and Tesla’s superior charging network.

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I like how it looks, I really do. It’s mesmerising. It’s lumpen and fridge-like from some angles, and the panels look rippled in direct sunlight and it’s bloody massive, but you can’t take your eyes of it, and plonked in the real world it makes you smile. Most of all I like that, on supersized US roads at least, it’s just a useful car. The lockable bed cover, the dinky frunk, back seats that flip up to give you another massive six-foot long storage area, all those lovely over-priced accessories...

We’re yet to give it the full send off-road (and yes I’m aware of the viral videos online that show it getting unceremoniously stuck) but independent suspension, no diff hanging down at the back and air suspension that can crank it up on stilts look good on paper. It’s easily the most outrageous car on sale today, possibly ever, but it’s not a supercar, it’s a truck that you can use every day. Just bring a packet of plasters.

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