FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Hands-on review: The Tesla Model X P100D

By Tom Richmond
Thu 8 Nov 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Around 11 years ago, Steve Jobs completely redefined the way in which we use mobile phones when he released the original iPhone. Now, you could argue that Elon Musk is doing the same with the automobile.

Named after the pioneer Nikola Tesla, the company has come a long way in 15 short years. Initially launching the ambitious Roadster in 2008, the California-based manufacturer now offers just three models - the Model S, the Model X and the Model 3. 

Currently, only the Model S and Model X are available in New Zealand, and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of testing the most powerful version of the Model X, the P100D, for an entire weekend. 

I’m from the Isle of Man - an island famous for motorcycles. I effectively grew up on an island where speed and petrol are engrained into us from an early age and, prior to my experience with the Model X, speed simply didn’t exist without the grunt of an engine.

I initially had my doubts about Tesla and the sustainability of both the idea and the brand. Yes, the majority of us are much more eco-friendly than we were 10 years ago, but the fact of the matter is that most people can’t afford an Electric Vehicle (EV), and I wasn’t sure that New Zealand currently had the infrastructure for EVs to become the ‘norm’.

Nonetheless, I must have looked like a kid on Christmas morning when I picked up the car from Tesla’s new HQ on Karangahape Road in Auckland. 

Tesla insist on a 40-minute demonstration to give you a short insight into the car, ultimately showcasing the exceptional Autopilot software. 

After ten minutes of familiarising myself with the Model X, I was asked to engage Autopilot. By pulling one of the stalks next to the steering wheel towards me twice, I was able to experience the future. 

Although not perfect, Tesla’s Autopilot is a fine example of just how innovative the company is and how they’re making bigger leaps in the market than any of their competitors. The car I tested featured Advanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability, which together created one of the strangest sensations I have ever felt  

You’re effectively putting your life into the hands of a machine, although legally you do need to keep both hands on the wheel when the feature is enabled.

Once I’d finished the demonstration on the outskirts of Auckland, I looked at a map and decided the best place to go where I could fully experience the car, was to take a spontaneous road trip up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. 

I wanted to embark on a roadtrip to see exactly how well the Model X performed and if such a trip could be convenient considering the car is powered on electricity alone.

Prior to leaving Auckland, I took advantage of Tesla’s 24-hour customer lounge at the showroom while waiting for the car to fully charge on one of Tesla’s Superchargers, which can fully charge your battery in around 75 minutes. There are only six of these across the whole of New Zealand, although more are in the pipeline.

Features

Like all other Teslas, the interior is curiously minimalistic with a vast array of features and customisation options.

There are no buttons, knobs or dials. Everything is controllable via the imposing 17-inch screen between the driver and passenger seats. This is effectively a central hub providing you with navigation, music, climate control, ride customisation and even a web browser. Oh, it also allows you to open and close all doors. 

Whilst on the subject of the doors, never have I been in a car which has been this much of a conversation starter. Almost everywhere we parked, I’d have people come up and ask questions about the Model X.

The double-hinged ‘Falcon Wing’ doors are practical and make getting in and out of the car a breeze due to the extended head room, albeit rather slow to operate. However, we were tainted with torrential rain on our roadtrip and the water would drip onto the rear passengers everytime we needed to get in or out. 

Unsurprisingly, there are no cup holders or extra storage on doors either due to the unorthodox design. 

The Falcon Wings mean the doors work excellently in both tight spaces and low-ceilinged car parks, using sensors to recognise the car’s surroundings to avoid any unwanted dents or prangs. 

However, my overall opinion on the doors is that they are almost like a statement piece - a reason for people to stop, look and talk about the car. Their practicality is desirable, but the car would have been a lot cheaper to both build and buy had they just used the sliding doors that we’ve seen on cars this size for decades.

Similarly, Tesla’s also come equipped with hidden ‘Easter eggs’, a term coined within the gaming community to describe hidden messages, features or jokes within a game.

You can turn the virtual Tesla on the infotainment screen into the Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me and even display Mars’ surface on your sat nav (complete with a mini rover). My personal favourite is the ‘Holiday Show’ in which the Tesla flashes its lights, flaps its doors and blares Christmas music out of its fantastic sound system.

Again, these features don’t really benefit the car but make Tesla stand out from the crowd of normal, run-of-the-mill manufacturers. 

The Tesla app connects to the car and allows you to pre-heat or pre-cool your car before entering, check battery life and start the car if you’ve left the fob at home. Trivially, it also allows you to honk the horn and flash the lights. 

The most impressive feature of the app is the ability to ‘Summon’ the car. If your Tesla is parked in your tight garage, for instance, you can simply press the Summon button and your car will drive out of the garage by itself, allowing for much easier entry.

One thing to note, is that safety is paramount for Tesla, and you’ll struggle to find a safer car anywhere thanks to the Advanced Autopilot, forward collision avoidance and 12 airbags.

Performance 

The Tesla Model X P100D is the fastest SUV in the world. Simply put, it is biblically fast - 0-100km/h in approximately 2.9 seconds, which is faster than a Lamborghini Aventador. 762 horsepower in an SUV is both crazy and admirable, and the power is available to the driver instantly thanks to the electric motor. There’s absolutely no lag, which makes the car somehow feel even faster from a standing start.

A top speed of around 250km/h is also surprising considering the size and weight of the car, so too is the way it handled the windy bends heading up to the Bay of Islands thanks largely to its low-centre of gravity.

Tesla have set the benchmark for the future of Electric Vehicles in many ways, but the acceleration that the P100D is capable of means that the future of transport is not only green, but also exciting.

You can use the 17-inch touch screen to further improve the ride by raising or lowering the suspension, turning off the traction control and enabling the insane Ludicrous Mode, which unlocks the cars maximum potential.

The P100D is not only quick - it’s also an absolute delight to drive and getting behind the wheel of a ‘normal’ car a week afterwards made me realise just how special the experience in the Tesla was.

Looks

I have to be honest though, when I first saw the Model X a couple of years ago, I wasn’t blown away by the way it looked. I thought it was rather ugly from the front and I wasn’t a huge fan of the rear-end which has echoes of the BMW X6 - another car which I wasn’t initially attracted to.

However, after spending a few days with the Model X and taking photos from all different angles, I must admit that the looks grew on me somewhat.

I think it actually looks much bigger in person than it does in photos, perhaps due to the sleek, aerodynamic design of a car in this class.

The huge, 22-inch wheels on our model also looked great but made the ride a lot firmer than it should have been. Tesla’s 20-inch option would improve comfortability but, in my opinion, reduces the aesthetics of the car. 

Practicality

The biggest drawback with an EV is the current infrastructure within New Zealand. Yes, charging points are relatively widespread but, if you want to use these, you’ll probably require a CHAdeMO adapter, which comes at a significant extra cost.

We ran into some trouble on our journey, but Tesla’s fantastic customer service representatives were able to locate us an adapter from a Tesla owner up in Paihia for a quick charge before heading back to Auckland.

Included with all Tesla’s is a charger for your garage or exterior wall at home, so for your daily commute, you won’t have an issue with charging your vehicle.

The Model X would be a perfect choice for a family -  the vehicle customisation allows for seat layouts for five, six or even seven passengers. Our car could fit a driver and five passengers comfortably, although getting into the back row could be a struggle for someone of significant height.

The design of the Falcon Wing doors further demonstrates the family appeal of the Model X , with the sensors making sure your kids don’t smash the doors into the car next to you whilst you’re out shopping.

Overall verdict

My experience with the Model X P100D is one that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. When I was first presented with the opportunity, I was excited, but I didn’t believe it would completely change my attitude towards cars and what they should be. But, it absolutely has.

Tesla plan to increase its fleet of vehicles by unveiling the Model Y in early 2019. However, the successor to the 2008 Roadster, due in 2020, promises to convert even more petrolheads like myself, with Tesla claiming it will be capable of reaching 97km/h in just 1.9 seconds and 161km/h in just 4.2 seconds.

Elon Musk has created both a brand and a product that every car manufacturer around the world is envious of. Tesla posted its first profits in two years during Q3 2018 and, in those three months, outsold Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Acura and Lexus in the United States. 

In fifteen years, Tesla has entered the niche market of electric vehicles and made it almost completely its own and, as New Zealand becomes ever more green, I feel like Tesla will only grow in popularity over here. 

It remains to be seen over time whether one of the bigger manufacturers will take this crown, but for now the future is certainly Tesla’s.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
InternetNZ
How well do rangatahi understand cyber safety in Aotearoa?
Do rangatahi in Aotearoa understand the importance of being safe online, or has lifelong exposure to the internet resulted in widespread complacency?
Story image
Firewall
Why printing security plays a vital part in keeping Aotearoa safe
While internet printing, mobile printing and other similar technologies have no doubt made things easier to manage, it has also brought a whole new set of problems to the table.
Story image
Servers
New Zealand cloud provider challenges Google's claims on data control for region
A Wellington cloud services provider says Google's claim it will offer New Zealanders complete control over their own data is not true.
Story image
Arlo
Hands-on review: Arlo Go 2 security camera
In my humble opinion, Arlo Go 2 offers security for anyone needing to keep a remote eye on prized possessions or premises at different locations.
Story image
Home security
Hands-on review: Eufy Wire-Free Dual Cam Video Doorbell 2K
We have had our house secured by Eufy products for over seven months now. We love the brand, and it has never let us down.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Digimon Survive (PlayStation 5)
Since there’s little actual gameplay in Digimon Survive, the biggest draw card to the game is its long and interesting story.
Story image
Malware
Research shows attacks on the gaming industry are getting worse
Web application attacks in the gaming sector have grown by 167% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, according to new research from Akamai.
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Hands-on review: Xencelabs Graphic Display Tablet
Xencelabs seemed to show up out of nowhere on the market. I had no idea who they were or what they were about, but I was very intrigued.
Story image
i-PRO
I-Pro officially marks launch of brand in Australia and New Zealand
I-Pro has officially launched in Australia and New Zealand, following a series of new releases as an entity that started in early April.
Story image
Fibre
Orcon brings faster fibre to Christchurch with Hyperfibre offering
Orcon has today launched the next generation of fibre speeds in Christchurch, bringing its Hyperfibre offering to the city.
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Hands-on review: HP Evo Spectre X360 Flip Ultrabook 13.5” laptop
The Spectre comes with a keyboard that makes working for long hours something to be looked forward to. It has to be one of the best keyboards I have seen on a 13.5” laptop.
Story image
Phone
Hands-on review: Obsbot Me AI-powered mobile phone mount
The Obsbot Me is an independently controlled portable mobile phone mount that can track its target without the need for software or a connection to a phone.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Logitech Astro A10 Gen 2 wired headset
We get our hands on this incredibly good value for money headset for use in wired environments.
Story image
Planning
Digital key for smart investment in public infrastructure for NZ cities
Major public infrastructure projects can better manage risks of cost overruns and delays if they deploy data and digital tools at the earliest planning stages.
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Chromebook and tablet shipments see another rapid decline for the year
According to research from Canalys PC Analysis, Chromebook and tablet shipments have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row for Q2 of 2022.
Story image
VPN
Hands-on review: Norton Secure VPN
Norton is obviously serious about your privacy. They have a “No-log” policy, which simply means that they do not track or store any of your on-line activities.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series
If there's something missing in today's gaming industry, it's the wonderful discovery of finding new games for hire at your local video rental store. I remember my family hired out the first Klonoa game for the PSOne back in 1997, and it was a blast to play as a kid.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Keyboard
SteelSeries has taken the design of its range of Apex keyboards to create a smaller version, the Apex Pro Mini. Techday’s Darren Price checks it out.
Story image
Virtual Reality / VR
Virtual reality app reduces phobias through NZ trial
"With this VR app treatment, trialists had increased control in exposure to their fears, as well as control over when and where exposure occurs."
Story image
Printers
Comedy legend Jimeoin fronts Epson advertising campaign in NZ and Australia
According to Epson the company’s EcoTank models now account for 74% of all printers sold in the category in New Zealand, alone.
Story image
Home Entertainment
Hands-on review: TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV
We introduce you today to a TV that brings the height of immersion to your viewing experience: The TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV.
Story image
Internet
InternetNZ appoints new chief executive. Will take over in October
InternetNZ has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, with Vivien Maidaborn taking over the role from interim chief Andrew Cushen in October.
Story image
Broadband
MyRepublic unveils 'choose the speed you need' mobile plans
Broadband provider MyRepublic has announced the details of its new 'choose the speed you need' mobile plans, designed for New Zealanders. 
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Disgaea 6 Complete
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny originally came out in 2021, and more than a year later, the game has now been re-released.
Story image
Product Management
TeamViewer and Siemens to innovate product lifecycle space with AR
TeamViewer's new partnership with Siemens Digital Industries Software to bring the power of TeamViewer's AR platform, Frontline, to Siemen Teamcenter software.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: TCL 30 SE mobile phone
TCL continues to provide consumers with budget phones that still pack a punch with the TCL 30 SE mobile phone. 
Story image
Gaming
Logitech G’s new Aurora collection looks to help change gaming stereotypes
The company’s new Aurora collection is designed to be gender inclusive, not gender exclusive, addressing the needs and wants of women gamers while also still appealing to a wider general audience.
Story image
Malware
Minors using Discord servers to spread malware for cash
Avast has discovered an online community of minors constructing, exchanging and spreading malware, including ransomware and a mix of information stealers and cryptominers.
Story image
Sustainability
NZ program recovers and recycles more than 177 tonnes of e-waste
The TechCollect NZ pilot program says its milestone of recovering and recycling more than 177 tonnes of ICT e-waste recognises the efforts of many.
Story image
Gaming
Chorus announces Hyperfibre sponsorship deal with NZ Esports
Chorus has put its support behind New Zealand's Esports community with a newly announced three-year Hyperfibre sponsorship deal with NZ Esports.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review - Xbox Cloud Gaming
I've had the opportunity not just to access the game pass but also its new shiny feature, Xbox Cloud Gaming. In this review, we'll be deep-diving into just what Xbox Cloud Gaming is, how it works and, well, if it works.
Story image
STM
Hands-on review: STM ChargeTreeGo portable wireless charger
We get our hands on the ultimate charging accesory for roadwarriors with a bunch of Apple devices.
Story image
Gaming
Attacks on gaming companies more than double over past year
The State of the Internet report shows gaming companies and gamer accounts are at risk, following a surge in web application attacks post pandemic.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: James Donkey RS4 Knight Wireless Gaming Keyboard
I have always liked mechanical keyboards, and this is no exception. I find the action much easier to use than the modern keyboards with limited travel.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro gaming headset
SteelSeries, being no stranger to creating premium gaming peripherals, sent over its Arctis Nova Pro wired headset kit for us to take a look at.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Jabra Engage 55 wireless headset
We get our hands on a German design professional headset that many knowledge workers could benefit from.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Wreckfest (Nintendo Switch)
Wreckfest is a fun racing game that came out for multiple different gaming platforms a few years ago. One of the best things about the game is that it's relatively cheap to buy if you own a PS4 or Xbox One console.
Story image
Cloud
Microsoft and Auckland Transport announce new cloud agreement
Auckland Transport (AT) and Microsoft have announced a new cloud agreement aimed at promoting innovation, reducing costs and improving sustainability in transport services.
Story image
Phishing
Norton research finds NZ threat landscape diversifying on social media
Norton's quarterly report has highlighted the seriousness of the threat landscape in New Zealand.
Story image
Apple
2degrees unveils eSIM functionality for selected devices
2degrees has enabled eSIM functionality to work with a variety of Apple, Samsung and Oppo devices, including a range of iPads.
Story image
Netsafe
Major media companies sign new online safety framework for Aotearoa
A new joint development between Netsafe and some of the world's leading social media companies is set to provide Kiwis with safer online experiences.
Story image
Gaming
Everything we know so far about NBA 2K23
As excitement for the next iteration of 2K Games’ NBA basketball series builds, some new information on the upcoming game, NBA 2K23, has been released.