Tesla Model X 90D
What is it?
THE Tesla Model X 90D is a premium all-wheel drive SUV with supercar performance, zero exhaust emissions and the best technology package any car could offer.
Throw in falcon wing rear passenger doors, seven seats and a best-in-class luggage capacity and, some would argue, you’re looking at the best business car in the world. Is there a catch? Well, that depends on what you think about electric cars!
- EVs have always been quick off the line thanks to the electric motors’ torque delivery but the Model X takes it to new levels claiming a 0-60mph sprint time of less than 5 seconds. Despite the speed, Tesla claims a range of nearly 290 miles between charges, ample for most business users.
- Wonderfully tax efficient with just 7% BIK in its first year and a zero fuel benefit in kind rating it makes a powerful case as your next business wheels.
- For a car made by an opening ‘tech’ company, it’s surprisingly refined and capable on the road with solid handling despite its Range Rover matching 5,400lbs (2,500kgs) kerb weight.
- The luggage capacity, at a potential of 2,810 litres with seats folded, is immense and, if that’s not enough, there’s a further 187 litres in the car’s nose where a ‘proper’ car would have its engine.
- Technology, for those who want it, is top drawer with a huge over-sized iPad-like touchscreen to operate all your infotainment and navigation needs. The tech also extends to the driver’s readout screen where digital impressions of what’s ahead, like parked trucks, are displayed along with little proximity bubbles that change from green to red depending on how close the car is to the kerb.
- Its tech has, to coin a horrid Americanism, total ‘updateability’ to ensure while other bits of the vehicle may become obsolete, the software is always the latest Tesla can offer. For example, while the car can already remember speed bumps and potholes, modifying its suspension when it approaches those GPS coordinates again, later an over-the-air-update could allow route planning avoiding any unwanted bumps and speed calming structures. The navigation, by the way, will also redirect the driver automatically to the nearest Tesla supercharger station, of which there are currently 744 in Europe, if it calculates the trip requires it and will tell the driver how long the charging will take. Tesla claims a range of 170 miles for a 30-minute visit to a supercharger.
- The controversial enhanced Autopilot autonomous mode, a £4,600 optional extra, works quite well handling steering as well as the other adaptive cruise functions we’ve seen in other premium cars. There’s also Auto Lane Change that will change lanes in the direction you have indicated when it is safe to do so and a useful add on to take stress away from car’s filtering into the inside lane on motorway junctions. However UK laws mean you have to keep hands on the wheel and if they’re not at the prescribed 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, the sensors won’t let you Auto Lane Change.
- All the doors have ‘cool’ factor with the front opening automatically at a push of the handle ‘button’. Yet, the rear falcon wings steal the show elegantly opening up the rear passenger seats for glamorous entry and exit while taking just one foot of side room in operation. At the same time, the driver’s door can be closed hands-free simply by stabbing the brake pedal – very useful when clambering onboard carrying the four venti decaff soya lattes that will fit in the large cupholders in the front console.
- It’s electric. That means you’ll need access to home/work charging and be not too far from a Tesla supercharger to keep down time at a minimum. Also, say what you will, many of us ICE (internal combustion engine) age babies will never get as passionate about a hair-drier on wheels as we would a lusty V8.
- While being a decent stab at a premium automotive product considering that Tesla is first and foremost a tech company, its levels of refinement and luxury don’t match equivalent or even cheaper premium traditional brands.
- Its suspension may be ‘smart’, as mentioned above, but it lacks the poise of immaculately tuned suspension offerings from market leaders like the Range Rover. The chassis transmits too many road imperfections through to the cabin and this is not helped by the optional 22-inch hoops on our test vehicle which rendered the ride quality nudging into the inadequate category. The standard 20-inch wheel would be a better choice.
- Take a sharp bend or roundabout too quick, a real possibility with the Model X’s pace, and you’ll feel every bit of its two-and-a-half tonnes of mass trying to pitch you off the road.
- Touchscreens, no matter how big, can be pretty useless on the move particularly if the suspension is not from the top-drawer.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, as such, this means you’ll have to be blind to what a well-designed SUV should look like because this isn’t it. With so much front glass prominent on the car’s profile, the use of privacy glass in the rear makes it look like a blinged-up van.
- The level of wind noise from what looks like a sleek design is unacceptable at this price point.
- On the topic of price, £89,500, excluding the controversial government £4,500 plug-in grant, is steep and gets steeper meaning with bolt-ons including Autopilot, seven-seat configuration and ‘premium’ upgrades, you’ll soon be nudging £100k.
Verdict on Tesla Model X 90D
This is a technological triumph and one with which the digital geeks will bore you witless streaming YouTube videos of its range-topping sibling with the aptly named Ludicrous Mode and a 0-60mph sprint of 2.9 seconds blitzing just about every hypercar it has been pitted against on the American drag strips.
That said, it is a worthy proposition for business users looking to blend a green image with practical commercial interests in terms of tax and running costs.
True, few would relish the prospect of driving one on holiday down to the South of France but, I ask you, how many Range Rover V8 owners would want to burn that much petrol when even a business-class plane ticket would look like a cheap alternative?
So, well done Tesla but just don’t expect the petrol-heads to want to trade their large-jugged gas-guzzlers for the automotive equivalent of a battery powered lawnmower on steroids.
The Low Down… Tesla Model X 90D:
|Doors and body style||five-door SUV|
|Engine/gearbox:||Front and rear electric motors/1-speed automatic AWD|
|Economy/range:||290 miles on a charge|
…..and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||£n/a|
|Road tax (VED)||£0 first year|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2016/17 to 2018/19||7%, 9%, 13%|
|Benefit in kind 2016/17 to 2018/19||£6,292, £8,089, £11,684|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£0/£0|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£0/£0|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£1,258/£105|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£2,517/£210|
|Figures correct at time of posting||November 2016|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|