Stop kids squabbling, drive via phone ... the Model X might even be worth $300K
Who turns down a $300,000 car? Given the chance to drive a nearly $300,000 “family” vehicle for a week, I fleetingly thought of several things. First up, “Heck-yeah, who wouldn’t want that?” Then, “How on earth can I keep my three sticky-fingered, football-booted, always grubby kids out of it?”
I envisaged a week of yelling at them: “Wash your hands before you get in … Don’t even think about eating that in this car … Take those muddy soccer boots off — haven’t you seen the white interior … Stop pushing those buttons, for goodness sake.”
But, to recap, who turns down a $300,000 car? And if the Tesla people want to know whether it really functions for a family, they have come to right place.
Our Model X P100D is Tesla’s top of the range SUV. It’s sleek, sporty, fast and — to my three kids — a giant ride-on toy built to entertain.
MEET GEORGE JETSON
From the streamlined front to that characteristic large, helicopter-style panoramic windscreen, it’s unlike any other vehicle on the road.
The “Falcon Wing” doors that fly up and out are enough to make anyone stop and stare. Surprisingly, they turn out to be just right for getting kids in and out of the car at the touch of a button, or via the app on your phone.
THE FIRST EVER CAR-TURNED-BUTLER?
This car is intuitive to a “T”, from the moment you approach, take-away skim cappuccino in hand, and the driver’s door opens for you, then closes when you put your foot on the pedal.
Then there’s the way the wing doors can detect any obstacles in their way and open to just the right degree. Then there is that selfdriving feature.
The Model X has autopilot, activated by the flick of a bottom. As long as you keep your hands on the wheel the car drives for you. Take me home, Jeeves.
The cabin feels sparse rather than luxurious for a car of this price but its seating options are unlike any other car I’ve driven.
We had the six-seater version, with the passageway between the two kids in the back cutting out the usual squabbles down there. It can also be configured to fit seven or as a fiveseater with a big boot.
HOW ABOUT THAT BIG SCREEN?
As with most primary schoolers, mine are never very far from a screen, whether it’s an iPad playing Fortnite or ploughing their way through their homework on the laptop.
It was only a matter of time before cars entered the field of entertainment and gave us the screen of the future.
The giant 17-inch screen is the core of the car. It controls everything, from the airconditioning to the suspension.
For “generation swipe”, the screen is just an extension of their everyday lives. My kids took it in their stride, setting up my profile for me, naming the car, easily navigating through Spotify and Google maps.
On the other hand, I was blown away. Drive a car with this level of interactivity and you realise exactly what all other cars are missing.
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
One thing you could say about our Tesla — it was fast. And by fast I don’t mean put your foot down and beat the Toyota next to you at the lights fast. I mean out of this world fast. Supercar fast.
What I’m not so sure about is whether it is family-car fast.
Do you really need to get from zero to 100km/h in 3.1 seconds on the school run?
When you have the car in its much-touted Ludicrous mode it is unlike any other SUV you’ll see at school pick up.
That said, you don’t have to drive this car in Ludicrous — there are also Sport and Chill settings for the less adventurous of us.
SURE FITS ALL THE SCHOOL BAGS
In common with most of these large SUVs, the Model X doesn’t let you down in terms of storage and functionality. It has all the usual USB ports and cupholders required for a big family and even better are the two “boots”.
There is the large rear boot and what the Tesla people call a “frunk” — as there is no engine up front, the space is instead used as a second storage area.
SMART CARS CAN BE NOT-SO-SMART
Day one of our Tesla test drive and the key fob died — so the super-smart Tesla technology turned out to be not so super-smart all the time.
A call to Tesla support and a system re-boot from their end wasn’t able to solve the problem but they had back up — the Tesla app, which allows you to unlock and start the car at the push of a button.
THEN THERE’S THE PRICE
This space age vehicle has an astronomical price to match. It starts from $205,700 for the P100D but that’s the basic model. Once you add all those extras it creeps towards that incredible $300,000 price tag. The perfect family car? Sure, if you can afford it.