Tesla Model X Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Tesla Model X review

£87,190 - £168,730
Published: 27 Feb 2023


What is it like to drive?

Ask most people what they know about how a Tesla drives and they’ll cite one of two things – it’s amazing acceleration or its self-driving ability. One is a stand-out feature, the other is more of a novelty. Do you need the extra pace of the Plaid version? Of course not. The Long Range is not only plenty fast enough, but ask yourself how the kids in the back are going to cope with crisps and drinks when an errant parent has just unleashed 0-60-in-2.5. Actually, scratch that, they’ll find it hilarious. It’ll be you that doesn’t when you’re on your hands and knees trying to clean it later.

The Model X is fast. But it’s also very, very smooth. Coming from an internal combustion car? That’s the biggest difference you’ll notice: no gearchanges, no engine vibration, barely any noise. The throttle is brilliantly well calibrated, so it creeps easily along with town traffic and despite its size, it moves well, responding instantly and crisply, giving you confidence in tight spots.

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What about outside of town?

It’s less good, with structural stiffness is the first and most obvious drawback. That might not sound like a biggie, but you sense the body twist, feel shudders, hear the trim creak. If there was engine noise maybe it would be less obvious, but there isn’t so you notice. And the ride is simply too firm. It’s been done to keep roll and heave in check, but the Model X thumps and bangs along B-roads. On coarse surfaces there’s tyre noise, and it reflects back from the giant windscreen, making the Model X that bit more hectic than it ought to be.

Handling isn’t its strong suit then?

Correct. We already know the Model X is plenty fast enough at getting itself between corners, but those corners then pose it… issues. It’s a bit scrappy really, you don’t get any sense of what the steering is up to, but a great deal of awareness of how much weight you’ve just tried to make slow down and change direction. So yes, it’s fast in a straight line, but no you won’t drive it like that. Not least because with no separation between load bay and seating area, anything in the boot comes sliding and crashing through. Brakes? Never been Tesla’s forte.

What about this self-driving malarkey?

Don’t believe the hype. Or rather, be wary of the hype. 'Full Self-Driving Capability' was a £6,800 option when the Model X was on sale here, but if you think you’ll be able to pump your destination into the nav and bed down for a nap, think again: this is a driver aid, not a driver replacement.

Without it the car will still follow other traffic and hold itself in lane, and the less expensive 'Enhanced Autopilot' will also be able to change lanes, parallel park itself and be summoned across a car park or similar via the phone app for about half what FSDC costs. The main advantage of having the system is that it’s future proof. As Tesla improves the technology (and it has a long way to go), the extra sensors fitted will have a greater role to play. As it stands Tesla’s self-driving system has reined in its earlier excesses. You can no longer let go of the steering wheel and let the car get on with it; it’ll bong a warning much sooner these days.

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The Model X isn’t as smooth and hushed on the road as the Audi e-tron, but this is still a fundamentally easy and relaxing car to drive for something so big.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Tesla Model X Plaid AWD 5dr Auto
  • 0-622.5s
  • CO2
  • BHP1020
  • MPG
  • Price£110,925

the cheapest

Tesla Model X Long Range 100kWh Dual Motor 5dr Auto
  • 0-624.7s
  • CO20
  • BHP417
  • MPG
  • Price£87,190

the greenest

Tesla Model X Perform Ludicrous 100kWh Dual M 5dr Auto [7 Seat]
  • 0-622.8s
  • CO20
  • BHP605
  • MPG
  • Price£104,790

Variants We Have Tested

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