My Tesla Model X test drive was scheduled on a day a severe thunderstorm was approaching, but luckily the day turned out to be gloriously sunny. Since I have never been an electric car fanatic, I arrived at the showroom in Wan Chai with no preset expectations. Stephen, the Owner Adviser, warmly welcomed me when I walked through the door and launched into a detailed overview of all of the Model X’s key breakthroughs before we hit the road. While informative, much I am sure was lost on me, as I steadfastly have hovered quite well outside of the periphery of the electric car enthusiast circles. But locking my gaze on the highly polished metallic black model could be aptly described as a near evangelical experience, with my interest piquing more sharply as the Model X’s theatrics began.
As soon as I touched the Model X’s stylish door handle, the front door opened towards me by itself. In no time, my instincts urged me to press on the handle of its rear door and the notorious “falcon wing” fly opened. As introduced, the falcon wing rear doors have sonar sensors behind the aluminium skin, which calculate by themselves an arc that allows them to open in even the tightest of spaces, keeping them from delivering an uppercut to your head or garage ceiling. As I tower just above six feet tall, the falcon wing door allowed me to practically walk into the cabin with less ducking than is required using a traditional door. Perfecting innovations take time though: the falcon wing door may give you a headache if you need to drop off your kids swiftly in central business districts.
When I was inside the cabin, the 17-inch tablet style dashboard placed elegantly next to the driver’s seat caught my eyes. With a tap on the giant touch screen, both the front and the falcon wing doors closed. I was about to locate the car key when I was told this family-friendly 7-seater SUV could be controlled by the dashboard and a mobile application. Simply put, the dual electric motors (NOT engines) could be switched on by just a few taps on the phone, and as Stephen stressed, this feature enables family members to share the car with ease.
We were on our way to Central when Stephen started to demonstrate how the single dashboard controlled most of the car’s functions, from the full-screen satnav system powered by Google maps to other features such as TuneIn Radio, which allows you to listen to radio stations all around the world. While all interesting gadgets, I was not spectacularly impressed until Stephen showed me how to adjust the Model X’s ride height. In mere seconds with a few taps on the screen, the Model X’s air suspension can be raised from low to high, preventing this futuristic contraption from hitting the road when it bounces, which protects the car’s underside. Supported by the satnav system, the vehicle also automatically memorises the location where its suspension is manually raised, which means you never have to be annoyed twice by the same speed bump!
I intentionally switched off the music during the test drive, as I wanted to get a heightened auditory experience in this battery-powered vehicle, which I felt performed well. This, combined with the stunning all glass panoramic windshield, giving me an unparalleled view of the sky above, made my 30 minute drive through the busiest part of this city pleasurable.
On the way back to Wan Chai, I switched the Model X to “Ludicrous” mode, in hopes of unleashing its full power. This feature is touted as allowing the Model X to out-accelerate many other supercars – enabling the car to accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in an outrageous 3.1 seconds. I could not wait to slam the “gas” petal to test its speed, but unfortunately, at this point traffic was at its heaviest. At that moment, the only thing that appeared to be ludicrous was our current speed – or lack thereof, as we were moving slower than a bike. As we approached the car park, I was surprised by Stephen’s request that we switch seats. He told me to tighten my seatbelt and lean my head on the headrest, after seemingly sensing my disappointment. In the next few seconds, we were accelerating at an utterly mind-blowing speed. It was so powerful that I actually felt like I was riding a roller coaster in an amusement park!
The Model X is environmentally-friendly in terms of gas emission and fuel efficiency, yet surprisingly versatile and practical. Despite its weight of nearly 6,000 pounds, its steering is smooth and cornering is superb. Its design is revolutionary, which has led the electric car revolution that I am definitely looking forward to more actively joining as it gains prominence in Hong Kong.