Schlagwort-Archive: ModelX

Tesla Model X: When an SUV can make you vomit while out-accelerating almost every Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini ever made, Modena and Stuttgart have a problem.


I hate SUVs for the same reason I hate houseboats. Bad houses, bad boats. Luxury SUV’s make me sick. Is there anything more American than the idea that you can have it all, without compromise, for a price? You can’t, otherwise Escalades and Expeditions would be running in NASCAR.

Except now you can, because I just took a Tesla Model X P90D to Ojai, California, and for the first time in my life, I wanted an American car.

The Model X P90D represents everything I hate. It’s an awkwardly-proportioned, 5440 pound, electric, semi-autonomous, 7-seater SUV, packed full of technology that cannot possibly last, from a company critics claim cannot survive.

And I absolutely loved it.

Flaws? It’s a new company. If reliability is your concern, lease one and enjoy the most advanced, brilliant and fascinating vehicle in its class. The standard warranty is four years. Prepare for loaners.

The exterior is what it is. If you want the future now, this is what it looks like. If you’re satisfied with yesterday, you already know what’s available today. I think the X is handsome. Ish. Once behind the wheel, I didn’t care.

The Model X P90D gets about 250 miles of range. I’d like 50 more. Was it a problem? Only in my mind. As with any Tesla, you should install a high-speed charger at home. If not, prepare to meet some new friends at your nearest Tesla Supercharging station, and scratch 2-3 hours a week off your schedule.

The interior is spartan, at best. I still don’t buy into the wisdom of replacing all controls with a touchscreen, however large and gorgeous. The seats are the best I’ve ever used, and that includes the 1972 Citroen DS and SM, my personal benchmarks.


The Model X is a vehicle that makes no sense and yet perfect sense, an SUV with 716 horsepower that does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, or 3.2 with the “Ludicrous” software upgrade.

A Ferrari Enzo does it in 3.14.

When an SUV can make you vomit while out-accelerating almost every Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini ever made, Modena and Stuttgart have a problem. Handling? The X is based on the same platform as the Model S sedan, which means it’s magnificent. Lower the air suspension, set the steering to Sport, and the X shrinks around you. I’ve never felt safe driving an SUV as I would a sports car, until now. Even my old Cayenne Turbo was a brick by comparison.

The Model X is the SUV someone else would have built if they had any balls.

My god, those Falcon doors. Even if the X was utter junk, they could sell a year’s production based solely on these doors. Alas, you don’t need to be Nostradamus to know those will be a problem. If you lease past four years, get the extended warranty.

It has autopilot, which is what Tesla calls its Autonomous Driving suite. Light years ahead of competing systems, it is the only one today that approaches full autonomy. It’ll do 99% of the driving 90% of the time. It has a steep learning curve, but once mastered, autopilot is a revelation. Until Mercedes and Volvo come to the table, everything else is a joke.

The enormous one-piece panoramic windshield makes the cockpit feel like the first row in an IMAX theater. After driving the Model X, every other car feels like you have an eye infection. Why this windshield hasn’t been done before in the US, I don’t understand.

The Model X is the SUV someone else would have built if they had any balls. It is the world’s greatest SUV in a class of one…a class called The Future. The X is to SUV’s what the S is to luxury sedans, which is what Tesla is to the entire car industry: an icepick in the face of convention. Granted, there are stellar cars out there: the Cadillac CTS-V, the Porsche 911, the BMW M2, the Mercedes AMG-GT and the Volvo XC90, but these are jewels in the sediment of an industry left behind by true innovation. I love the Model X not merely as a vehicle, but as a profoundly American vehicle, the automotive manifestation of what this country is supposed to stand for. Ambition. Ingenuity. Confidence.


American inventor mythology is that of someone being told something couldn’t be done, and then doing it. Is there a more American story than Musk’s? The immigrant who became a tech titan, then launched a rocket company, then entered the car business?

The Model X, like Tesla the company, is an example of what happens when you apply that most American of methods to a problem. Throw out the book. Solve it from the ground up. Dealer networks suck? We’ll sell direct. Nowhere to charge? We’ll build our own network, and we’ll make it free. Autonomous Driving? Software updates? Let’s give Tesla owners access to the very best tech, and let’s wirelessly update it all the time.

By these standards, Tesla is the most American car company there is today, and the brilliant Model X is the most American car currently on the market. It is an example of what happens when a company is willing to take risks on our behalf rather than at our expense. Whatever critics may claim about Tesla’s ability to deliver, Musk’s greatest sin is his rush to sell us something truly better, which is why I deem the X worth every penny, flaws and all.

I can’t wait for the Model 3. If you believe in what really makes American great, neither should you.


Tesla Model X: Electric Meets Extravagant

With gull-wing doors and Lamborghini-like acceleration, Tesla’s Model X P90D Ludicrous—an electric all-wheel-drive luxury SUV—comes loaded with contradiction

WINGS OF DESIRE | The Falcon Wing Doors on the Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous are at once thoughtfully engineered, largely impractical, and very, very cool.
WINGS OF DESIRE | The Falcon Wing Doors on the Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous are at once thoughtfully engineered, largely impractical, and very, very cool. Photo: Tesla

LET’S ADDRESS WHAT some might consider the morally inconsistent status of an all-electric luxury SUV costing $135,400. By design, the Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous (that’s the real name, apparently) is meant to be green and efficient—and well-to-wheel, net-to-net, EVs are way cleaner than gas-powered cars. Electric vehicles are a technical expression of our belief that the atmosphere is the blue commons, owned by all. Egalitarian in impulse, in other words.

But the Model X is also the rarest sushi of materialism, class privilege under a blister of tinted glass, a suede-lined pachinko parlor of the soul. Just remember as you pull up to Nobu in West Hollywood and supermodels come running out to the valet to take a picture with your Model X with the doors up: You’re saving the planet.

Here’s the hard part for most people: It can be both. A feature of a free society is that some have more than others; such are the risks and rewards of capitalism. This is a given. This is gravity. But everyone, no matter their lifestyles, can consume less. And, by the power of numbers, a lot of lesses add up to quite a lot.

So some Hollywood celebrity downsizes to a Gulfstream IV and now she’s Mother Earth? Well, yes. Consider it a self-imposed carbon flat tax.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still function. It also seems to apply to the Model X’s famous Falcon Wing Doors, since they are simultaneously unnecessary and absolutely vital to the entire enterprise; deeply thought-through yet completely spurious; impractical and…well, more impractical. But you get used to them, because they are so cool. See above re: supermodels.


Or retired aerospace engineers. Or French tourists. Or the hard-core, mainlining petrolheads who kept me waiting in the parking lot at Venice Beach, Calif., while they selfied themselves, laughing madly, sitting in mid-row seats while the doors were up. When all the doors are open you can look through the Model X as if it were a picture window with a Tesla-shaped sill and sash.

Would minivan-style doors have been a more sensible technical solution to a mid-row door opening? Infinitely. You could have done the doors off the Dubonnet Xenia easier that the Model X. But the spell these doors cast—let’s call it emotional engineering—is payoff for some of the shrewdest design money ever spent.

2016 Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous

Photo: Tesla

Price, as tested: $135,400

Powertrain: all-electric all-wheel system comprising dual three-phase, four-pole AC induction motors; liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack (90kWh nominal); on-board charger and supercharger enabled; permanent all-wheel drive.

Horsepower/torque: 532 hp/713 pound-feet of torque

Length/weight: 198.3 inches/5,381 pounds

Wheelbase: 116.7 inches

0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

Cargo capacity: 77 cubic feet (total interior storage, six-seat configuration)

A bit of context: The Falcon Wing Doors came about because Tesla CEO Elon Musk liked them and wanted them, full stop. He has said he didn’t want the production car to be a dialed-back version of the concept car, which is just the sort of initiative and forward thinking that gets people cashiered from General Motors.

To aficionados, Mr. Musk’s move smacked of pride since in over a century of automotive design, from the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing to the DeLoreans to Lambos, gullwing doors have always looked cool and never really worked.

To name a few of the problems: ease of entry and exit, weather sealing and wind noise. From a safety standpoint, center-hinged overhead doors cut into the kind of rectangular geometry around a door opening that lends it rigidity.

What if it snows overnight? What if it’s raining? Where do you put the ski racks and bicycles and the Thule roof module full of hiking gear?

Who cares? Have you seen the doors open?

Most maddening was creating a dead-stable pivot point for the doors, which rise and fall slowly on the motorized breeze not like falcon wings but more like seagull wings, with a double fold. The solution required a heroic amount of costly magnesium in the car’s dorsal spine.

Mr. Musk has copped to overreach with the Model X. Maybe he tried to do too much, what with the Model X’s sensor-rich Autopilot driver aids; the dancing shuttle-craft seats; the HEPA air filtration system with the “Bioweapon Defense Mode” setting; the panoramic windscreen, a stunning soap bubble of a canopy over your head. Dude, you’re forgiven. But then again, I’m not a stockholder.

Practicality for fascination. This is the card Mr. Musk continues to play to his advantage. This is the part of the Tesla business plan that might as well have been quoted out of the Old Testament. The rich will want the riches.

2016 Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous
2016 Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous Photo: Tesla

Not to be confused with the Model 3 compact sedan that debuted so boffo this week, the Model X is a full-size SUV with dual electric motors front and rear, providing all-wheel drive. Although its body structure is almost entirely aluminum and magnesium, our flagship test car (P90D Ludicrous) was quoting a massive 5,381 pounds, most of it in the floor-mounted battery pack. Four-corner air suspension with five ride-height settings, from off-road to highway, is standard.

The Model X is a luxury family mover, with five-, six- or seven-passenger seating options, with a rear trunk and a frunk (a front trunk). The deeply tinted glass canopy creates a pretty magical space, although (another old lesson, relearned) the California sun is too bright through the roof glass. I understand additional tinting is available.

The front and mid-row seats are mounted on powered pedestals that glide forward as if to a Strauss waltz, easing access to the third row’s two cozy bucket seats. The seats’ pedestal mountings allow passengers more foot room than otherwise.

All the doors open electrically, which can take some getting used to. If you get in and put your right foot on the brake, the driver’s door will swing closed, even if you have not yet retrieved your left leg. The door will gently gnaw on it until you take your foot off the brake.

The price for the “standard” Model X 70S with a 70kWh battery is $80,000, which is about $5,000 more than a base Model S—a fact that is academic because Tesla won’t be building any base Model X’s for some time.

Elon Musk has copped to overreach with the Model X. Dude, you’re forgiven.

The company will instead be filling orders for the flagship P90D (“P” for performance). These will come with a face-flapping 713 pound-feet of insta-torque from two huge four-pole AC induction motors ($35,000) and the famous “Ludicrous” Drive Mode ($10,000), which essentially permits the battery to violently eject electrons in pursuit of maximum acceleration. In Ludicrous Mode, the Model X P90D max output is 532 hp.

That’s the version that Tesla provided me, and I want them to know, I’m on to their game. It is very hard to find fault with a six-seat SUV that accelerates like a Formula Atlantic open-wheeler. Jeebus. Stamp the accelerator and it goes off like a sprung mousetrap. Tesla estimates 0-60 mph in a Lambo-like 3.2 seconds. While doing so, the Model X quietly withdraws everything from your pockets and scatters it conveniently under the back seats.

And then, between 50 and 100 mph, it’s goodbye, Charlie. The P90D Ludicrous operates at an entirely different frame rate than just about anything on the street in L.A. It takes a sustainably harvested baseball bat to Panzer wagons like Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport SVR.

Around the City of Angels, the sweet, effortless blurt of our EV hot-rod tempted me to do, well, questionable things. No yellow light ever turns red for the Model X P90D. No hole that opens up in traffic is ever too small or far away.

Falcon wings? Maybe Icarus. But if the Model X flies too close to the sun, there’s always more window tint.