DURING three days of electric and plug-in hybrid testing we discovered one hard, undeniable kernel of truth. If you want to own an electric vehicle, right now, in Australia, that makes owning one feel relatively easy, there is only one manufacturer that answers the call – Tesla.
While we fretted and fussed over the available range and closest charger for our other test vehicles, finding chargers inoperable and realising some cars were achieving half the range their gauges claimed, the Tesla was a stress-free experience, with the testing team able to drive the car however we desired, knowing there was a supercharger within striking distance, and a healthy estimated range up our sleeve.
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The 100kWh battery provides a class-leading 565km of range according to the official NEDC test. During our testing we saw similar numbers. Ideal for those particularly susceptible to range anxiety, Tesla’s on-board computer and Google-powered navigation will calculate estimated remaining charge following a return trip, and include necessary supercharger stops on longer ventures.
Additionally, Tesla Australia has installed a supercharger network that runs from Adelaide to the Sunshine Coast, which combined with the Queensland Government’s new electric superhighway to Cairns, has a large proportion of Australia’s population covered. You could genuinely live with a Model X without a home charger.
The Model X is a great illustration of what Tesla stands for in many ways. It’s irreverent, confounding, brutal, and unapologetic. Looking like a Model S which has undergone a hall-of-mirrors photoshop makeover, the Model X’s weird, loaf-shaped silhouette has an undeniable on-road presence.
With the batteries placed low between the front and rear axles, the Model X does a reasonable job of hiding its two-tonne-plus weight, though it’s evident in the way the car crashes over bumps. Turn the heat up dynamically, and the Model X initially feels lumbering, but push harder and the clever torque vectoring from the electric motors gives it an agility that belies its weight. As you up the pace, the Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tyres, at 50psi placard, become the dominating soundtrack.
There are three steering modes of varying artificial weighting, with Sport being the sweet spot, and the others offering a light American boulevard cruiser feel.
You could get so carried away with the ‘easter egg’ features that are scattered throughout the Tesla Model X’s coding that you forget to drive the thing. There are Christmas-themed dances, old-school Atari video games, and of course those needlessly complex ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors.
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Then there’s the price. The range opens at $142,900 for this non-‘P’ version of the 100D before you even think about options or taxes. The Model S sedan is lighter, more attractive, and cheaper. But if gimmicks are your thing…
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