Tesla Model X update has improved Autopilot, a heap of Easter Eggs and it can even sing and dance!
Tesla is every bit a tech firm as it is a car maker. They’re constantly releasing software – and less frequently hardware updates – to make their cars just that little bit better over time.
We tested their flagship Model X P100D SUV and we concluded that it was the best model in their range. It was comfortable, quiet, clever and those Falcon Wings gave it some huge wow factor. Oh, and if you choose the most powerful P100D drivetrain, it’s also bloody fast.
Since our last drive in the Model X, Tesla has made a number of changes and improvements. Firstly, they’ve updated the Autopilot system. Tesla’s Autopilot has garnered much controversy since it was launched a number of years ago, and the American brand has feverishly been working to get the tech right, especially as a number of rivals – i.e Volvo – have developed their own and often very effective systems.
Tesla has recently changed both the hardware and software for Autopilot so their cars – the system is also available on the Model S hatch – are more aware of their surroundings and are capable of making better driving decisions. That’s the theory.
Have the changes worked? Well, yes and no. The Model X certainly kept us away from neighbouring traffic, but there was this strange sensation that the car couldn’t properly centre itself in a lane on freeways and that was drawn (seemingly) to the right side of the lane. Instinctively, you try to correct the auto steering, which then cancels as soon as you contribute any input.
Autopilot can be frustrating at first, but if you let Model X do its thing on a long, straight bit of freeway, the system works relatively well. Drivers still must have their hands on the steering wheel at all times though, and we found that its best if you place your hands on the lower portion of the steering wheel, as if you put them any higher up, the system will think you’re trying to intervene and will subsequently abort.
Tesla openly admits that the Autopilot tech is still in the Beta phase of development, and it is continuously working to improve the system’s software and hardware.
Another feature of Autopilot is an automatic lane change facility. Simply engage the adaptive cruise control – which is actually brilliant – then the automatic steering, pop on the indicator and the car will automatically merge in the desired direction. We found this feature a little unnerving at first, but it was actually rather accurate and efficient.
Drivers who want to improve their Model X’s battery range can now select a new drive mode called “Chill Mode.” Think of it as Tesla’s answer to Eco mode – weirdly, despite being a brand focussed on producing electric cars that are designed to save the world, Tesla refrains from using the terms “Eco” or “Economy mode” – which dampens acceleration and extends battery life.
While we didn’t quite have the opportunity to test Chill Mode to its full extent, but the car’s acceleration performance reduced considerably when this mode was selected, although it was still hardly sluggish. We can safely presume that this setting should extend range.
The latest incarnation of the Model X has a whole treasure trove of Easter Eggs. The famed James Bond one remains, but there’s now an Easter Egg that resembles Microsoft Paint and allows you to doodle on that huge touchscreen, you can switch the sat nav (Google Maps) so it looks like you’re driving on Mars, and perhaps, most importantly, the Christmas dance.
Yes, if you unlock this Easter Egg your Tesla will sing and dance for you. Really, watch the video below.
Is it necessary? Probably not. But it shows you what Tesla’s engineers can really do. And besides, it’ll impress the neighbours. And their kids and probably everyone else.
Sale or no sale?
Sale. The Tesla Model X and Model S still have huge appeal, and their electric performance will still win the hearts and wallets of many customers.