The Model X is impressively quick. We’ve come to expect an impressive turn of pace from Tesla products, but there’s still a childish sense of satisfaction that comes from flooring the throttle and experiencing the force with which this massive SUV can accrue pace.
To a bystander, it must be a fairly comical sight to behold – almost like watching Mr Creosote run the Olympic 100-metre sprint final and take the gold medal. Well, maybe not that preposterous, but the effortless urgency with which this rather heavy car can simply take off is as impressive as it is novel. And with a 0-60mph time of 4.4sec, the Long Range isn’t even the quickest Model X you can buy; the Performance will do it in 2.7sec, which is absolutely outrageous.
That fast-twitch muscle response is only one aspect of what makes this powertrain impressive, though. Just as impressive is how smooth it can be when you’re not trying to reacquaint your children with whatever they had for breakfast that morning. Step-off is impeccably tidy and, once you’ve learnt how to work with the regenerative braking system, the task of gradually slowing to a halt isn’t overly uncouth. Admittedly, the fact that there are only two modes for the regenerative braking (hyper-aggressive and almost non-existent) seems an oversight; a wider range of intermediate settings would be a welcome addition.
Past the powertrain, the Model X's credibility as a luxury SUV begins to unravel. Even with those changes to the suspension, the manner in which it rides is still unbecoming of a car costing £83,050.
There’s a wooden, almost uncultured character to the way in which it deals with lumpen stretches of road that results in pronounced headtoss and a near-permanent sense of restlessness on anything other than glass-like surfaces. An ability to glide nonchalantly over any imperfections isn't too much to expect. The Model X’s key rivals - the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron - are all far far more accomplished in this regard.
The same applies to its motorway cruising manners. While the ride is certainly less agitated on these smoother surfaces, Tesla still has a long way to go as far as interior isolation is concerned. Wind noise isn’t too pronounced, but the amount of roar the tyres generate at speed is disappointing. A serene, hushed cruise isn't too much to ask from any high-end SUV, let alone one without a noisy combustion engine.
The Model X doesn’t handle particularly tenaciously, either, but then it is a 2439kg SUV, so it’d be unfair to expect any dynamic miracles. Its lower centre of gravity and firm suspension mean it does a reasonably commendable job of keeping its mass in check, but the steering is totally dead and the artificial heaviness that has been engineered into the rack isn’t an ideal substitute for genuine feel.
The consequence is that you’re never totally confident in the car's ability to handle a corner at pace. Its weight means it’s capable of building fairly significant momentum, too - momentum that, if you’re travelling a bit too quickly, can continue in its original direction of travel after you’ve turned the wheel. Admittedly, this understeer is never particularly alarming and can be easily reigned in, but it quickly dissuades you from repeating your mistake.