We half expect Doc, Marty, and Elon to step out since the Falcon Wing doorways of the Tesla Model X start to swing open, triggered as they are with two consecutive pushes on the side of the key fob. The rear doors launch using an audible click, and then the electrical motors whir as the doors begin their slow skyward ascent. It is the Model X’s big trick, and a dubious tie into the hubris of DeLorean, Bricklin, and Icarus.
These are not only gullwing doors, though; they’re a lot more complicated. Power actuated and lined with capacitive, inductive, and sonar detectors on the other side of the aluminum skin to stop them from delivering an uppercut to a mind or garage ceiling, the doors are hinged over the glass to automatically fold away from parked cars and obstacles. They are probably the smartest doors ever fitted to a car. But do you need complex doors? Mostly you just need doors to start easily, quickly, and provide a large-enough portal site to let you into the cabin. Totally open, the Falcon Wing door provides a massive entrance, but it is still simple to smack your head on the tip of the wing.
Like the Model S, the X will not embarrass itself if it lines up alongside a supercar on a drag strip. An electric motor at each axle provides four-wheel drive. Add up the motors’ maximum potential and you get a theoretical 762 horsepower, but the arithmetic isn’t that simple.
Spending $10,000 for the Ludicrous Speed option adds software changes and what Tesla calls a “smart” fuse. That exceptional fuse raises the battery’s output to 1500 amps (up from 1300), and the accessible output climbs to 532 horsepower. Without Ludicrous Speed, the entire 713 pound-feet of torque is available with every punch of the accelerator under 50 mph. This neck-straining torque certainly provides the feeling of 700 horsepower. Or of falling off a tall building.
The 60-mph markers arrives in 3.3 seconds, and the quarter-mile flashes by in 11.8 seconds at 116 mph. Stabbing the right pedal from a roll at 30 mph contributes to 50 mph in 1.3 seconds. It is nearly instantaneous. The 50-to-70 run takes only 2.1 seconds. Even without launch control, the Model X rips through the 5-to-60 evaluation in 3.5 minutes. Quick by any measure, but let’s pause to consider that the 5594-pound Model X is within 76 lbs of a Chevrolet Tahoe. We analyzed the Tesla on the Exact Same day that we conducted the McLaren 570S along with the Porsche 911 GT3 RS at the track.
Braking from 70 mph took 172 ft. In fear stops, the pulsating brake pedal travels almost to the ground, but the brakes didn’t exhibit any evaporate in our testing. In regular driving, you slow by lifting off the accelerator, which activates the regenerative-braking system which can almost bring the Model X to a complete stop.
Tesla, the company, is not quitting. Following supporting the Model X is the almost-affordable Model 3. But until the Model 3 arrives late next year, the company remains a boutique selling expensive EVs to wealthy buyers. The cheapest Model X starts at $81,200. Our top-spec P90D Ludicrous Speed test car came with a $133,700 cost tag. And yet, the Model X actually does not have any competition. There are no other electric SUVs right now. And even against fossil-fuel-fed SUVs, the Tesla’s straightforward performance and efficiency can’t be matched. We must also note that there are not any other SUVs with gullwing doors, but now we know there’s a good reason behind it.