Tesla Model X electric motor, drive & performance

The Tesla Model X sets the benchmark for performance in an electric SUV, even if a Jaguar I-Pace is more fun

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive & performance rating

4.5 out of 5

Fuel Type:
Electric
Model0-60mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
Model X3.8s155mphFour671bhp
Model X Plaid2.5s163mphFour1,019bhp

The Tesla Model X weighs around 2,300kg, which makes the devastating performance of the Plaid model all the more astonishing when you experience it. It's genuinely shocking when you first get fired up the road, mostly thanks to the silent, unflappable way the car takes off. Handling is a bit flat-footed due to the sheer bulk of the thing, and the steering is devoid of feedback, but the Model X is precise and neutral enough to be genuinely satisfying on a swift drive down your favourite country road.

Tesla Model X electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

Let’s start at the top, with the Plaid. It's flat-out bonkers; a YouTube sensation of a car that'll beat the craziest supercars off the line, and will likely see 60mph first, too, given its 2.5-second sprint time. It sets a benchmark and then some for electric SUV performance and has a top speed of 163mph.

The Long Range is also pretty gobsmacking: its 0-62mph figure is 3.8 seconds, while top speed is 155mph. For all the savagery of the Tesla’s acceleration if you choose to use its full potential, it's also a very easy car to drive at normal speeds thanks to the progressive nature of the electric motor. You can make easy progress through the ebb and flow of town traffic without giving it much thought at all.

Handling

The Model X can’t really be described as agile, but it doesn’t suffer the lumbering, ponderous handling of some large SUVs. This is thanks to the batteries sitting low in the body, which means the Tesla has an extremely low centre of gravity; this in turn minimises body lean.

Both variants use Tesla’s dual-motor, four-wheel-drive system, so there’s masses of traction to ensure they feel planted even on poor surfaces or in bad weather. It all feels neutral and grippy enough that you can swing the big Tesla through direction changes with cheerful gusto.

There’s even ‘smart’ air suspension with adaptive dampers, which can vary the car’s ride height depending on speed and the kind of surface you’re travelling on, also taking into account data from the sat nav. It’s a shame, then, that the Model X’s steering feels rather unconvincing and artificial. It’s a bit computer-game-like – accurate and controllable, but you rely on your eyes and ears to gauge when the Tesla is close to its limits.

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