You can charge in the Tesla Model X and it's definitely live video

DAMIEN O'CARROLL/STUFF

See the Tesla Model X use Autopilot 8.1 to change lanes by itself.

The main reason that techy people get so excited about Tesla cars is that they have a completely live presence in the digital world.

I know this because I asked some techy people who are very excited about Tesla cars and that's what they told me.

To us car people, Tesla products like the Model X SUV/people-mover thingy featured here are mainly just, well... cars. The Model X is fully electric, but there are other fully electric cars available. It's luxurious, but there are other luxurious cars available. It has a lot of automated driving features, but no more than many other high-end models.

Nearly a quarter of a million dollars gets you a silent SUV that will romp away from supercars at the traffic lights.
DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

Nearly a quarter of a million dollars gets you a silent SUV that will romp away from supercars at the traffic lights.

No, the reason for the Tesla halo among team-techy is that all the company's models are permanently connected to the internet. So while you may have thought these cars drove around with the sun shining on them all the time, they are actually driving around under the Cloud.

READ MORE:
* Is the Model X the world's most outrageous people-mover?
* Why Tesla is downplaying the "affordable" Model 3

 
Hard to see the sense in Falcon doors. But they do add sci-fi desirability to the Model X.
DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

Hard to see the sense in Falcon doors. But they do add sci-fi desirability to the Model X.

That means more than just instant access to Spotify and Stuff through through Tesla's signature 17-inch touch screen (although you do get that and yes, Tesla pays for the data). It also means that updates can be delivered directly to the car as soon as they're ready, which makes the Model X the same as your mobile phone. Except that (hopefully) the car won't take 15 minutes to start up the morning after its update.

That's why this particular Model X is ostensibly the same model-generation as the last Model X I drove back in May, but it has a whole new package of so-called Autopilot 8.1 features - because they were released by the factory and made available for download to the car.

That's another thing the IT-crowd love. Tesla does not play by the take-it-in-for-an-update-at-service-time game that the rest of the car industry has agreed to. It's a great excuse to wheel out that tedious word: "disruption". I'd prefer to say Tesla plays by its own rules and solves crime in its spare time.

Dashboard identical to the Model X sedan, including Tesla's signature 17-inch touch-screen.
DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

Dashboard identical to the Model X sedan, including Tesla's signature 17-inch touch-screen.

Anyway, thanks to Autopilot 8.1 Tesla vehicles now have improved steering assistance up to 150kmh, an automatic lane-change function, new lane departure alerts, and advances to traffic-aware cruise control, automatic emergency braking, self-parking, blind-spot detection and speed assistance. There's also a summon feature (but only in Beta at this stage) that allows you to remotely retrieve your vehicle from a parking space.

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None of the above is unique to Tesla, although Tesla's versions of the technology certainly are because it shares nothing with other carmakers.

With that in mind, the enhanced steering assistance and lane-change functions were the most illuminating on test because it's clear Tesla is pushing the boundaries that little bit more. The steering assistance is more aggressive than any other I've experienced, and if you activate the lane-change function the car seems extremely keen to squeeze itself into some very compact spaces: rather than moving in one smooth arc, the steering will make tiny adjustments in order to move across into its chosen space.

Key is adorable but hard to hold onto and very easy to lose. Not that we'd know anything about that.
DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

Key is adorable but hard to hold onto and very easy to lose. Not that we'd know anything about that.

Clearly, Tesla has supreme confidence in its technology. Somewhat surprising from an American manufacturer perhaps (it is the land of litigation, after all), but remember that your Model X is completely connected so data from any incidents will be accurate and very available. More to the point, every time you use these functions, Tesla is also gathering data in real-time to improve the performance of future updates. Again, no different to your mobile phone.

And as a car rather than a mobile device? Much of the Model X's image rests on the P100D's sensational performance. This flagship model gets all-wheel drive and Ludicrous performance mode as standard, which results in a claimed 0-100kmh time of 3.1 seconds. That's supercar-fast in a straight line and even once you take into account the fine print (Tesla's test ignores the first 300mm of acceleration to replicate dragstrip performance) it's still the world's fastest SUV/people-mover thingy.

As with the Model S sedan - which is basically a low-slung version of the Model X, as they're both on the same "skateboard" EV platform - it's more your straight line hero than cornering sensation. I'm okay with that: this is a luxury five or six or seven (depending on which cabin configuration you choose) seater and I don't think anybody's going to be taking their Model X on a track day.

This is the flagship P100D. But you can save $100k by opting for the $128,900 P75 model.
DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

This is the flagship P100D. But you can save $100k by opting for the $128,900 P75 model.

But it is still very American in the way it loves a drag race but gets all hot and bothered when you start throwing it around corners. Literally hot and bothered; then some really big, really loud fans come on. Trust me, this is one where you destroy a Lamborghini away from the lights and then whirr gently along the waterfront to lunch.

When you get there you can enjoy the street theatre of the Falcon rear doors, which are packed with sensors that give you maximum opening in the minimum amount of space available. 

Like many things on the Model X, the Falcon doors are unnecessarily complex and a bit silly. But like many things on the Model X, they imbue the car with an other-worldly ambience that you'll find very hard to resist. 

The Model X is best enjoyed in a straight line or in low-speed sumptuous silence. It's not really a car for car-people... but I think that's where we came in.

 - Stuff

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