Tesla Model X review

Category: Electric car

Fast and packed with tech, but interior quality should be better

Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking
  • Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking
  • Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking
  • Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X 2021
  • Tesla Model X 2021
What Car?’s Model X deals
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Target Price from £98,480
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Introduction

What Car? says...

It would seem that Elon Musk is a very busy man. In between firing rockets into space and digging big holes in the ground, he’s also trying to revolutionise the luxury car market. The Tesla Model X is the largest of the American brand's high-tech electric cars to arrive on British shores thus far.

Although Tesla is hardly a pioneer of the sporty and luxurious SUV, the Model X does have a very distinctive look and there’s plenty of innovation underneath, too. This includes an Autopilot 'self-driving' function, electrically operated ‘falcon wing’ rear doors and a claimed range between charges of more than 300 miles.

If you really want to put the ‘sport’ into your SUV there's the Plaid version, complete that can take you from 0-60mph in a gobsmacking 2.5sec. However, even the much cheaper entry-level model (called simply the Model X) can hit 60mph in less than four seconds and, as a bonus, has a slightly longer range than the Plaid.

But is the Tesla Model X as good as other electric SUVs, such as the Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC, in the areas that matter most to electric SUV buyers? Click through to the next page and we'll begin tell you all you need to know. 

If you decide the Model X is a little on the pricey side (it's the most expensive car Tesla makes, after all), make sure you check out the smaller, but still remarkably practical, Tesla Model Y. If actually has a slightly longer range between charges.

Whichever new car you end up deciding to buy, make sure you pay a fair price for it by using our free What Car? New Car Buying service. You could save a packet and many makes and models.

Overview

If you’re in the market for a seven-seat, all-electric SUV, then the Tesla Model X is in a class of its own. Not only is immensely practical, packed full of tech and surprisingly sharp to drive, it’s also capable of embarrassing sports cars in a straight line. And while there is no ignoring its colossal list price – even in our preferred Long Range Plus specification – it does at least come with an incredible official range of 348 miles and benefits from Tesla's world-beating charging infrastructure. Our only real complaint is that interior quality should be better given the high price.

  • Astonishing performance
  • Great for safety
  • Seats up to seven
  • Below-par interior quality
  • Ride comfort isn't great
  • Expensive to buy
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Target Price from £98,480
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From £24,194

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Like all electric cars, the Model X is really simple to drive. To set off, all you do is select 'Drive' by flicking a stalk behind the steering wheel and then squeeze the accelerator as you would in a traditional automatic car. What's more, there's only one gear, which means acceleration is incredibly smooth with no interruptions.

Where the Model X differs from most electric cars is in how quickly it can pick up speed. Opt for the range-topping Performance model and 0-60mph takes a scarcely believable 2.6sec. Even the cheaper Long Range Plus version can pin you and your passengers back in their seats with a 0-60mph time of 4.4sec.

Slowing down takes a little more getting used to; the strong regenerative braking that helps recharge the battery causes the car to decelerate quickly as soon as you lift off the accelerator. You soon acclimatise, though, and might soon find yourself driving without using the brake pedal much at all. Indeed, you only really need the left pedal when you’re coming to a complete stop. Or if you prefer the car to freewheel more naturally, you can always turn the regenerative braking down.

Tesla Model X image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

While you might expect a relatively tall SUV to pitch and roll through the corners, the Model X’s low-mounted battery pack and standard air suspension make for cornering that is pleasingly flat and saloon-like. Okay, a Porsche Cayenne is even more impressive, but the Model X is far more agile than an Audi E-tron or Mercedes EQC – it's also in a different league compared with the van-like Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life  It's just a pity the steering doesn't weight up as naturally as a Jaguar I-Pace's when you turn into corners, robbing you of any fun you might otherwise have.

The tidy handling also comes at the expense of ride comfort; you know when you’ve hit a rough surface, even if the car never crashes uncomfortably. Even on relatively smooth motorways, you still feel the Model X fidgeting underneath you, while pothole-strewn urban roads can become tiresome. The E-tron and EQC are far more relaxing alternatives.

Those rivals are much quieter cruisers, too, with less wind and road noise to disturb the peace. You also hear more of a whine from the Model X as it accelerates, although the sci-fi noise doesn’t irritate.

 

Tesla Model X 2021 RHD front tracking

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The dashboard is dominated by a high-definition 17.0in touchscreen that controls almost every function in the Model X, including the air conditioning, suspension, stereo and sat-nav. With only a couple of physical buttons on the entire dashboard, you’re left with a super minimalist design.

Although the touchscreen menus are fairly easy to navigate when you’re stationary, they’re trickier to operate on the move. Some of the icons are a bit small, while the sheer number of them can make it hard to find what you want. You’ll eventually get used to it, but we’d still prefer a few physical buttons for some of the more commonly used functions.

That's why we reckon the infotainment system in the rival BMW iX3 is more intuitive to use while driving. And unlike most rivals (including the iX3) there's no Apple Carplay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring – a pain, if like us, you prefer to use smartphone based navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze over standard-fit sat-nav systems. 

The touchscreen is paired with another digital display behind the steering wheel, which replaces conventional instrument dials. While it offers lots of information, it remains easy to read, with sharp graphics.

Getting comfortable is easy, too, thanks to a good range of adjustment for both the steering wheel and driver’s seat. The seat is supportive yet fairly comfortable, with adjustable lumbar support. Even after a couple of hours behind the wheel, your back won’t feel like a pretzel that’s just been trodden on.

Sadly, this attention to detail doesn’t spread to the whole interior. While the material quality feels decent for the most part – even in areas you wouldn't normally touch – some parts of the dashboard feel a bit wobbly and there are curiously large, and sometimes inconsistent, gaps around some of the interior panels. And the exterior body panels, too, for that matter.

 

Tesla Model X 2021

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

You can opt for five, six or seven seats in your Model X. While the standard five-seat layout offers the most boot space, the three-row layout is likely to be a popular option for the extra practicality it brings – especially given that the rival Audi E-tron, BMW iX3Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC are strictly five-seaters. All the seats are comfortable and mounted individually, with the front and middle row adjusting electrically.

The rearmost seats are unlocked from their upright position with a discreet button, but they need to be manually pushed into the floor or pulled back up again. While adults will fit in them, leg room is tight and taller individuals might find their head brushing the rear screen above. At least with the six-seat layout (2+2+2) there's space between the seats in the middle-row for the feet of third-row passengers. If you're planning on regularly carrying seven fully-grown adults, we'd recommend you take a look at something more conventional in design like the van-based Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life.

Although you can’t fold the middle row of seats flat, you can slide them towards the front seats and then tilt them forward, allowing you to carry long and bulky items in the extended load bay. Handily, this can be done electrically via the touchscreen.

Getting into the back is easy, thanks to those falcon wing doors. They reveal a big opening with a cutout in the roof to prevent you from banging your head when strapping in a child. What’s more, the doors need only 11in of space at the sides of the car to operate thanks to their clever hinges. Our only complaint is that they can be slow to open and close. 

Although the front door pockets are small, there is a big shelf under the touchscreen, a big cubby beneath this, another behind it with USB ports, cupholders and a wireless phone charger under the central armrest. While there are two cupholders for middle-row passengers, there are no door pockets. That’s probably for the best, since everything in them would probably spill out whenever you opened those wacky doors.

If you need even more space, there's a bit of additional storage under the bonnet – another advantage of the Model X not having a petrol or diesel engine.

 

Tesla Model X 2021

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Buying a Model X isn’t cheap; you'll pay more than you would for an Audi E-tron, BMW iX3Jaguar I-Pace or Mercedes EQC. That's true no matter whether you're a cash buyer or you're signing up to a monthly finance agreement.

At least you get plenty of standard equipment including keyless entry, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, those electric 'falcon wing' doors, a powered tailgate and a tow bar. The range-topping Performance version adds a few extra interior garnishes and, of course, insane amounts of performance. Ultimately, though, we’d stick to the cheaper Long Range Plus.

Both versions come with Tesla's Autopilot feature as standard, which can automatically keep you a set distance from the car in front and even take care of the steering. However, the optional (and very expensive) self-driving package gives you the ability to remotely 'summon' your Model X out of a garage or tight parking spot by using an app on your phone, can take care of lane changes automatically (you just hit the indicator), and will also mean further self-driving features are automatically downloaded to the car as and when they become available.

The Model X doesn't emit any CO2, so you’ll pay no benefit in kind (BIK) tax until April 2021 if you choose to run one as a company car and only a tiny amount thereafter. You'll also avoid paying the London Congestion Charge and benefit from unlimited free use of Tesla’s Supercharger network, which can deliver seriously rapid recharges. Even if you charge at home using a regular 7kW wallbox (a full charge will take roughly 15 hours), you’ll pay much less for electricity than you would for petrol or diesel.

We haven't put the latest Model X though our scientific Real Range tests yet, but based on the older P100 model (now off sale) you should easily be able to get more than 230 miles from a full charge in the Long Range Plus version – significantly more if the weather is warm or you take it really easy. The Performance won't get quite as far but should still comfortably manage more than 200 miles.

We don’t have specific reliability data for the Model X, but Tesla performed rather poorly in our 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey finishing 29th out of 31 brands – down considerably from its 4th place showing in 2019. At least you also get a four-year warranty (albeit with a 50,000-mile limit) on the car, while the battery and drive unit get their own eight-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

As for safety, the Model X scored an impressive five stars (out of five) when appraised by Euro NCAP in 2019. Adult occupant safety was a particular highlight, with child safety mostly good other than a note to say that neck protection of a 10-year-old was 'marginal' due to the forces exerted on the crash test dummy.

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Tesla Model X 2021
At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £98,480
Swipe to see used car deals
Used car deals
From £24,194
RRP price range £98,480 - £131,080
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 4 years / 50000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £197 / £262
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £394 / £524
Available colours