Driving Miss Dashboard: The future is now

  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model X

A road-trip to the Kensington Gardens Pavilion in record time - Alexandra Tilley Loughrey goes 'fully charged' in the Tesla Model X

Oh my goodness, for me it was infatuation at first drive. But for my kids (and everyone else’s who were drawn like iron filings to the proverbial magnet every time I ventured out in it) the Tesla Model X was love at first door-opening. Those falcon wing doors do it every time. And despite stories from ‘the haters’, they do not get stuck on the roof of multi-storey car-parks or bashed on other car’s doors – as the sensors only allow them to open as far as is safe - in such a delicate little way, like a graceful bird (a falcon in fact) unfurling its wings.

The Model X is an up-to seven seater that’s as cool as. It’s incredibly spacious inside but can more or less slide under the radar looks wise. It certainly doesn’t look as ostentatious as a Cotswold tractor (Range Rover), but then (once you open those showy-offey doors) - you might as well play the star-spangled banner and yell “coo-ee, look at us, hello, we’re over here, yes here!”. There really is absolutely no ‘regular car’ like it.

I have a confession to make. Unlike other electric cars, where you tend to become addicted to conserving as much fuel as possible, this one has such an incredible range (depending on the model you can drive from 250 up to 350 miles in a single charge - yes really!) - and has such lightning fast acceleration, that I just hit the accelerator as often and as fast as possible as we glided smoothly along the M40 - creating a ride to rival any supercar. I’ve never thought of myself as a petrol-head, but now happy to be a self-confessed electric-head.

A huge touch screen - like a large iPad is what controls all of the car’s software - air con, heated seats, heated steering wheel, seat position, door opening (yes, why should you dare lean forward & pull a handle to get out when you can touch the screen). The car is so intuitive I swear a 2-year-old could drive it - if only their legs could reach the pedals. And, oh the joys of ‘in-built’ Spotify, talking to your play list - in fact veritably yelling at it in excitement as the mood takes you from Elbow to Stormzy (depending on which member of the family shouted the loudest).

Even though we didn’t need to take a pit stop to get from Gloucestershire to Kensington Gardens it was fun to try out the Tesla chargers at Oxford services - who knew you could have a VIP experience at a motorway service station. You glide in, plug in, saunter to Starbucks, grab a coffee – and return to find your car supercharged up to full range. It was like a scene from a sci-fi movie - other human beings quietly appear in their Teslas and park next to you in one long serried rank, while mere mortals in diesels and petrol cars can only drive loudly over the speed-bumps and stare at you in disbelief.

Standing by the charger finishing off my latte I was introduced to the secret society that is the Tesla ‘Referral Program’. A man said he was keen to buy one and if we referred him we would both benefit - him to a likely discount, while I (as a Tesla owner - I wish) could get access to things like free motorway service charging. Beats a Nectar Card…

As the car has such a huge range there was no necessity to find a parking space near a charger, so we pulled up outside the Serpentine Gallery. The kids had no interest in looking at the beauty of the Pavilion that we’d driven all the way to see, not even the bribe of an ice-cream would coax them - they just wanted to hang out in the Tesla instead.

This is definitely not a car for the shy and retiring. I did feel slightly conspicuous returning to a by-then packed Kensington Gardens on a sunny Sunday - everything is fairly discreet until those doors unfurl…but, hey, sometimes it has to be the case of, if you’ve got it - flaunt it!

As we passed the Westfield shopping centre before accelerating back onto the Westway one of my children said “Mummy, if we have a spare £90k knocking around, could we get one of these?”. Time to start looking under the sofa cushions…

Fast facts

Fuel consumption - no more trips to petrol stations - ever

Road tax - £0

Safety - The maximum five star European (EURO NCAP) safety rating and lauded as USA’s safest ever SUV.

Media -  Probably the easiest ever touch screen to use. It offers remote software updates, so you know exactly where your nearest Tesla charger is and can programme the satnav to take you there.

This season’s colours - A palette of fairly conservative options, with versions of black, white, blue, silver and red. Horror of horrors - the leather seats are made of something finer than your great grandmother’s kid gloves - so not necessarily dog-claw-friendly.

The drive - smooth and fabulously fast - from as little as 60mph in 2.9 seconds.

This year’s model - There are three to choose from: 75D, 100D and P100D - which vary in range and acceleration.

Optional extras - As you might expect from such a high-tech car, extras include a medical-grade HEPA air filter, carbon purification filters, and an enhanced auto-pilot, with self-driving capability a very real possibility...

Warranty - 4 years (up to 50,000 miles) and 8-year battery warranty

Price - from £74,000 to in excess of an eye-watering £160,000 - it’s no surprise that leasing is a favoured option.

Follow Alexandra on Twitter @MissDashboardUK for a refreshing take on cars.