Tesla Model X Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 30th September
Car Review

Tesla Model X review

£87,190 - £168,730
810
Published: 27 Feb 2023
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Not cheap, and not a conventional SUV, but a thoroughly capable family wagon

Good stuff

Falcon doors are more than a gimmick, pace, fresh approach, ease of driving

Bad stuff

Structural shake and shimmy, hardly handsome, interior quality

Overview

What is it?

The one with the Falcon doors. It’s still hard to believe they’re not from a concept car, but here they are, able to open in 11 inches of space, with sensors to prevent knocks against pillars or squeezing children, the Model X’s signature feature.

They’re unique, something they have in common with the rest of Tesla’s biggest car. Because it’s not an easy one to pigeon hole. It’s 4WD and seats up to seven people, but it’s hardly a conventional SUV. Can you imagine one heading off across a muddy field? Exactly. And then there’s the way it looks. It’s more hatchback than conventional family wagon. Hardly a handsome hatch either.

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Is that a bad thing?

Not necessarily. In fact it’s stood Tesla in good stead, suiting the firm’s more disruptive nature. And it’s not as if buyers have given it a wide berth, as it’s firmly established in the upper reaches of the family car price bracket.

Underneath it shares a platform and motors with the Model S saloon, using either a dual- or tri-motor setup and the same 100kWh battery. This sits low in the centre of the car, and combined with the compact electric motors ensures not only a flat floor throughout the cabin, but also a useful load space under the bonnet as well as a huge boot.

What kind of money are we talking?

If only we could tell you. Early in 2021 Tesla decided to stop offering both the Model X and the Model S in the UK, leaving the Model 3 and Model Y as its only representatives in Blighty. Weirdly the online configurator remains active so you can still go through the process of ordering your brand new Model X by placing a deposit of £100. But Tesla can’t tell you when the car will or arrive. Or how much it’ll cost when it does. Funny old company, isn’t it?

A newer, updated version of the X is available in Europe; in Germany it starts from €120,990, and when we do finally get a UK price it’ll be interesting to see where it’s pitched against others in the segment such as the Mercedes EQC and Audi e-tron.

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The best we can do for now is refer you back to the two previous versions of the Model X: the Long Range (£91k) and the Plaid (£111k). Both are very powerful, the entry-level version developing 553bhp, and the Plaid producing 1,006bhp. Yes, that really does say one thousand and six brake horsepower. That's more than enough for both cars to overcome their 2,500kg, the Long Range able to hit 60mph in 3.8 seconds, while the Plaid sees off the benchmark sprint in 2.5s. Two point five! Top speeds of 155 and 163mph apiece, too.

How far can it go on a charge?

The Long Range manages a claimed 360 miles on a charge, compared to the Plaid's 340. Both give you free access to Tesla’s superb Supercharger network – an offer that lasts as long as you retain the vehicle. Second owners have to pay for the privilege.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Its rivals are better built and more familiar, but the Tesla is big, airy and has a sense of humour

Are you thinking an electric SUV could be your next family car? But this one seems too radical? Give it the benefit of the doubt. In developing an electric car from scratch, Tesla still holds a narrow lead over less well packaged and creative rivals from Audi, Jaguar, Merc and virtually every other mainstream manufacturer right now. Yes, its rivals are better built and more familiar, but the Tesla is big, airy and has a sense of humour. And that’s not just because it’s got a fart mode and upwards-opening doors.

It’s a fun and engaging family car with room for everyone and a more playful personality than the outwardly plain looks suggest. And you can’t ignore the charging network: that alone removes so much of the hassle and frustration from the switch to electric. It’s a very good car, the Model X. Not a conventional SUV, sure, but a thoroughly capable family wagon.

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