Tesla Model X: cost the crux of it


What is it?

For the moment, Tesla Australia has two cars available.

One is the Model S sedan. The other is the Model S based SUV — the Model X 100D to be precise.

The name gives a clue to part of the specification, but no P means it’s not the “Performance” version that offers the much talked about “Ludicrous” mode.

The D is for “Dual” as in a pair of motors, and the numbers are the kilowatt hours the engines are capable of.

Model X can be configured in various ways, including seating — the car as tested was a six-seater.


What’s it cost?

Currently, there is NO escaping the fact that an electric car is expensive.

The Model X as tested breaks down as follows:

  • Car as tested started at $129,500
  • Metallic paint is $2100
  • Big black wheels $7800.
  • Seating colour scheme was $2100 (with the dash trim, a dark ash wood look, a no-cost fitment)
  • It’s the electronic bits that add up, with the full self-driving option and auto-pilot $7100 and $4300 each
  • With these options fitted, Luxury Car Tax and GST, plus the other government taxes, the car as tested came to $186,305 (Tesla has recently announced some self drive elements are to be included as a no cost option)

The seats came trimmed in white leather with black bases. Only the front seats are fully adjustable.

The centre rows are designed to move fore and aft to allow access to the third row which is fixed apart from being able to fold.

The wheels are the turbine style, and are huge at 22 inches diameter, with 255/35 Goodyear Eagles.

The Tesla Model X, like its brethren, is in theory simple to operate.

The driver’s door can be set to open on approach for anyone with the right key, which itself is akin to the Model S shape. Buttons in the fob remotely open and close individual doors, or can do the lot, including the powered tailgate.

The touchscreen is the home and hearth of the Tesla’s operation. Virtually everything is controlled from this massive vertically aligned screen, including maps, navigation, charger locations, audio including Spotify and TuneIn, online resources (the car has a 3G sim card fitted), plus some specialities.

Embedded at the top centre of the screen is the Tesla ‘T’ symbol. A gentle press of this brings up firstly a block that displays the car’s individual details, then moments later another screen with “easter eggs” — hidden icons that provide extra goodies.

One such icon is the famed Atarai game badge. This brings up five Atari classic games such as Asteroids and Missile Command.

Another adds a Father Christmas jingle sound to the indicators, and changes the driver’s display’s centre icon from a car to Rudolph.

Yet another appeals to the aural side for sniggering young boys, with a range of farts.

But perhaps the party piece is the one that brings up a sound and light show from the Model X at night. This is the link and it’s worth giving it the two minutes it takes.

The driver’s display is also a full colour LCD screen. There is an energy usage graph, the direction taken while under way, and options to show audio — for example.

The steering column is perhaps the weak point, not so because of the design itself, but the location of the indicator and cruise control stalks. They’re too close together and easily mistaken for the other.

The roof height of the Model X allows for plenty of headroom. Perhaps the downside is the reach of the front screen with its way too thin sun visors that stretches back over the front passengers.

A “normal” windscreen that doesn’t compromise the profile would be preferable. Safety isn’t compromised though, with millimeter perfect parking sensors, radar-controlled cruise control, airbags aplenty, and auto emergency braking.


What’s it go like?

As much fun as Ludicrous mode is, the 100D drive provides more than enough oomph to frighten Superman on steroids.

All that’s required is a simple flick down of the lever to the right hand side of the steering column, make sure D is highlighted, look towards the future and plant the right foot.

In seconds the future is upon you. It’s an incredible experience and one that anyone that hasn’t experienced the sheer exhilaration of an electric car will want to experience, over and over again.

It’s this experience though that cruels the advantage electric cars have over their petrol counterparts in respect to response.

Much like the old days, flattening the pedal in a carbide V8 and watching the fuel gauge plummet — it’s exactly the same here.

This particular car, at full charge, had an expected range of 475km. This can also be viewed on an app installed on your smartphone, allowing the driver to see what their car has available.

Even with that range, our planned drive from the lower Blue Mountains to Bega on the NSW South Coast, required a couple of stops. First at the Tesla Supercharger station in the heart of Goulburn, and another at a somewhat dingy location in Cooma, the doorway to the Australian snowfields in NSW.

Superchargers can pump in up to 400km of range in an hour. The default charge is up to 80 percent. For extended runs it’s easily bumped up to 100 per cent, and the app or the car’s control screen can also set the charging to stop at a predetermined time or level.

The destination chargers that can be found in the car’s navigation, online, and in apps, can add up to 80km of range in an hour. A home charge without Tesla’s installation, delivers a mere 8km of range per hour.

The number of passengers reduces the range and our test car was loaded with four people, a light cargo, and pooch.

That 475km of range is further reduced, much like a conventional vehicle, by the rise and fall of the land. Where the Tesla gains a tenuous advantage is on extended downhill runs, such as that found at Brown Mountain, some 50km west of Bega. It’s a 10km up or downhill run, but climbing back up saps battery range severely.

We left with close to a full charge however and there was enough in the tank so to speak to safely reach the Supercharger at Canberra, located next to the airport. An hour’s break to “refuel”, both the car and occupants and three hours later arrived at home.

The big difference here is how quiet the Tesla is, lowering driving fatigue. The drive and handling is precise, composed, taut yet never enough to weary, even with the huge wheel and tyre combination.

Overall travel time including the break at Canberra worked out to be the same as a normal drive that would normally include two stops, either for fuel or for comfort.


What we like?

  • Sheer punch of the twin electric motors
  • Lack of driving fatigue
  • Sound and light show is truly engaging and memorable


What we don’t like?

  • Cost
  • Promised range doesn’t equate to reality
  • The cost


The bottom line?

Electric cars are not merely coming. They’re here.

Tesla isn’t the first purely electric car, that honour goes back to another over a century ago. However it is this American brand that has put a metaphorical rocket up the car industry.

Although calls for hydrogen powered cars are growing, the infrastructure simply isn’t there. BUT, like electric cars, which also did not have an infrastructure, there’s no doubt that could happen.

Tesla’s biggest problem is simple: the cost. The car tested is by no means the top spec but it’s still the price of a few square metres of real estate in Sydney — and that HAS to change.

CHECKOUT: We get ‘ludicrous’ in Tesla’s eye-popping Model S

CHECKOUT: Bill, 91, loves his Tesla


Tesla Model X 100D, priced from $129,500
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 9.5/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 9.5/10
  • Value - 5.5/10

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