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Tesla Model X first drive

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The Verge had an early chance to drive the Model X, Tesla’s first new car in years.

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It feels every-bit a $100,000 car.

The graphical user interface in the gauges, the enormous touchscreen, the ambient lighting and supremely comfortable seats are all nothing short of exceptional. In the short minutes I had to soak it all in, the Model X interior felt every bit as opulent as a Range Rover or Mercedes S-Class.

But it’s the displays that really blow everything else away. Supremely crisp graphics, animations, colors, the main gauges and massively adjustable infotainment software are engrossing.

It’s supposed to be safe. Really, really safe.

Tesla bossman Elon Musk said he expects the Model X “to get a five-star crash rating in every category” as he introduced the car to media today. Yes, including rollovers. Even when you’re not in an accident, the car protects its occupants from invisible harm with a true HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) cabin air filter, the only one in any car, according to Musk.

“If there’s ever a bioweapon attack,” Musk said “the safest place is your car.” At this point I figured he was kidding, until he added “there’s actually a ‘bioweapon defense mode’ right there in the HVAC. We figure you shouldn’t have to think if you’re in an emergency.”

Sounds a little wacky but Tesla’s got a good track record for having a sense of humor; “Ludicrous Mode” and a volume that literally goes to 11 come to mind. So yeah, why not?

“What if you roll it over?”

Tesla reps say you could run the Model X off a cliff, “it might roll a few times but it’ll land on its feet.” An extremely low center of gravity (thanks to the battery-skateboard the whole car’s plopped on) makes rolling the Model X extremely difficult, but if it is turtled, the gull-style “falcon doors” have enough hinges in them that Tesla thinks the the car will still be escapable.

I’m a bit skeptical about the “always lands on its feet” part, but I’m also not inclined to test it by rolling it off a cliff.

Tesla Model X: This Is It

The car has an “invisible butler.”

Walk toward the car and it will paint you with powerful magic Tesla calls “ultrasonics,” which assess your trajectory, and open the door for you when you want to get in. Sit your butt down, apply brake, and the door will shut without any further input.

How does it avoid slamming into things? Ultrasonics, of course. They constantly sound the area around the car to open doors to the maximum degree possible without inadvertently bumping anything.

Even the “falcon” doors can open in tight, and low, spaces.

What are basically just parking sensors are mounted all over the doors, detecting how low or close another solid surface is. Park the Model X between two vans and the doors can still open; they pull off some impressive yoga moves and work slowly, but they can squeeze themselves up in a spot that’d be hard to open traditional doors in.

As for overhead clearance, the same thing applies. Pinches are prevented this way as well.

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