Visionary technology billionaire Elon Musk has at last pulled the wraps from the new 2016 Tesla Model X SUV at a special event in California today.
Musk also used the big moment to mark the opening of sales in the US, with the first six buyers taking delivery at the event.
An Australian debut is set to occur in the second half of 2016, likely around July or August.
The new electric SUV’s unveiling comes nearly four years since it first appeared as a concept, whetting the appetites of family buyers and early adopter everywhere.
Little has changed about the Model X’s core styling, although there’s a slender new ‘grille’ design in place of the broad Model S-inspired fascia that appeared on the concept, along with more minor tweaks across the body.
Importantly, as promised - and as spied yesterday - the unique ‘Falcon Wing’ top-hinged rear doors are still in place.
Here are some key points for the family buyer, many of them revealed already through leaked details: a 2468kg kerb weight (depending on specification), seven seats across three rows, large front and rear storage spaces (thanks to the absence of a conventional engine), a 90kWh battery with a driving range of 402 kilometres off one charge, and a 2267kg braked towing capacity.
For the more performance-minded, the recipe gets sweeter still: revealed today in top-shelf P90D Signature Edition form, the dual-motor all-wheel-drive Model X boasts 193kW/330Nm at the front wheels and 375kW/648Nm at the rear.
Tesla promises a 0-60mph (96km/h) sprint time of just 3.8 seconds in regular form, or an even sharper 3.2 seconds when the US$10,000 Ludicrous Mode is optioned.
If you’re inclined to drag your Model X, there’s a claimed quarter-mile (402m) time of 12.2 seconds, or 11.7 seconds for Ludicrous models.
Top speed? A lazy 249km/h.
No surprise either, given its slippery shape, that the Model X’s 0.24 drag coefficient is the lowest of any SUV. By comparison, the coupe-shaped BMW X6 lists a cd of 0.32, while the new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe’s cd… has not been revealed.
Tesla also promises a fairly dynamic drive, with the floor-mounted battery pack ensuring a relatively low centre of gravity. Importantly, the battery pack’s position also reduces the likelihood of rollover.
Adding to the spirited drive experience will be the Model X’s standard-fit active spoiler, automatically adjusting between three positions depending on speed.
In the US, at least, the Model X is equipped as standard with automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance, along with a forward-looking camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors to enable advanced autopilot features.
As with the Model S sedan, there’s also over-the-air software updates to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Model X’s various comfort and safety systems.
Interestingly, the Model X also boasts “the first true” HEPA (High-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter system, enabling a medical-grade level of clean air to be circulated in the cabin.
The Model X’s Falcon Wing rear doors, perhaps its pièce de résistance, feature a double-hinged design, allowing them to be opened first up and then out - meaning that just 30 centimetres of space is needed beside the vehicle.
Each door is equipped with capacitive, inductive and sonar sensors to monitor surroundings, so that contact with obstacles around the car can be avoided.
The driver’s door also opens automatically on approach, and closes upon entry. Inside, monopost seats in the second row move independently, allowing easy access to the third row.
Occupants in the front row also get the benefit of a long windscreen that stretches up and over their heads, offering an expansive view of the scenery above and ahead.
Building on the impressive control display featured in the Model S, the Model X gets a 17-inch touch screen in the centre of the dash, with controls for media, navigation, communications, cabin control and vehicle data. Most of these features are also voice-enabled for easy hands-free access.
“In retrospect, we would not have done so much in the way of features and functionality for the X,” Elon Musk told press in California today.
“People are going to get an incredible car that does so many things that no other car does, but it didn’t need to do quite as many things,” he added.
“Now that it’s done, I think anyone who buys it is going to love it.”
Local timing for the Model X is still to be confirmed, although a July/August launch is understood to be on the cards.
As for pricing, Tesla global vice president for marketing, Ricardo Reyes, told CarAdvice in March that a price comparison with BMW’s big X5 SUV would be a “fair enough” line to draw.
“It’ll be equivalent, and it’ll be the equivalent of a premium SUV, like the Model S is the equivalent of a premium sedan,” Reyes said.
That will mean a price list in the range of between $84,000 (X5 sDrive25d) and $185,510 (X5 M), although the Model X could potentially go beyond that - particularly for the P90D model revealed today.
Overseas pricing was revealed in August, with the P90D Signature Series model starting at US$132,000 (AU$185,000).