Glamour model: Tesla Model X
Five years ago, Californian car company Tesla was barely heard of in the UK. The electric sports car it developed with Lotus was a very rare sight on the roads. Then the Model S arrived on the motoring scene, an electric luxury saloon that appealed to environmentally aware business drivers. It soon started to intrigue others too as sales climbed and the big T-badged cars with pop-out door handles whispered their way through the traffic.
They were pricey, but with the bonus of a much better range than other electric cars and low running costs via subsidised home chargers and free re-charging for the life of the car at Tesla superchargers – such as those at Tesla’s showrooms near Gatwick and Heathrow and at the Bluewater and Westfield shopping centres. For the past two years, the Model S has been the world’s best-selling electric car and an increasingly familiar sight around the south-east.
This autumn, a smaller Tesla, the new Model 3, is due to join the range at a price mooted to be around £35,000, less than half that of the Model S. Running costs won’t be quite as low, though, since Tesla no longer offers free supercharging to new customers. Even so, it will be a very interesting alternative to a conventional prestige executive car.
Meanwhile Tesla’s first SUV, the remarkable Model X, is starting to appear on the roads around London and the south. It is notable for its “falcon wing” doors that are double-hinged to open upwards and like a bird ready for flight. It is also unusual in offering a choice of seating configurations for four, five, six or seven occupants.
The Model X is a big car at just over five metres long – about 17-and-a-half feet, and is almost 2.3 metres (7ft 6in) wide. At the heart of the car is a 100kWh battery pack that takes up the entire floor. Because of this low-down weight, the Model X has a much more “planted” feel on the road than you might expect of such a tall vehicle, with minimal body roll on the bends.
Business savvy: Skoda Kodiaq
If your business life needs the space, pace and convenience of a big SUV, but not the expense of a Tesla, then Skoda’s new Kodiaq is worthy of consideration. At 4.7 metres long it is not quite as large as a Model X, but is still a roomy seven-seater with a business-like air about it. It takes its name from a hunky Alaskan brown bear.
The Kodiaq has a big boot, at 630 litres in the seven-seat model, or 720 litres if you prefer the standard five-seater car. The rear rows fold away to leave a van-like 2,005 litres of carrying capacity with just one passenger alongside the driver. For the kind of car it is, tall and with a largish footprint on the road, the Kodiaq is very civilised to drive. It has taut handling, doesn’t lean unduly on the bends, has a good ride quality and is nicely refined.
The starting price is £21,565 for a front-wheel-drive, five-seater Kodiaq with a 1.4 litre petrol engine and the base level “S” trim. The range-topper is a seven-seater 4x4, with a 2.0 diesel engine and automatic gearbox, all for £35,360.