Considering the history between Tesla and BBC's Top Gear, the new host's outing with the Tesla Model X seemed to be emblematic of the reborn automotive show: beautifully filmed, but superficial in content.
To say that the relationship between Tesla and Top Gear was acrimonious is to be kind. After a 2008 segment on the Tesla Roadster led to charges that the hosts had lied about the car's range, eventually leading to an admission that the 55-mile range experienced was an editorial decision on the show's part to show the pickle you'd be in should your car's battery run out of juice before you got to a charger. Of course, that's ignoring the fact that that's a problem with internal combustion cars too. Not enough fuel? Vehicle stops going forward. After the kerfuffle over the Roadster review, Top Gear did not touch the Model S.
But back to this week's Model X P90D on Top Gear. With a new raft of hosts manning the flagship BBC program, they sent Rory Reid to New York City to test out the electric SUV and the segment, while absolutely beautifully filmed, was either just poorly conceived or poorly edited or handicapped in some effort to make up for slights eight years and a different cast in the past.
They drive around New York City. They take the car into upstate New York and back (apparently stopping at a Supercharger, though cutting that bit out of the aired show). They race a Dodge Challenger Hellcat to predictable results. They wax poetic about the potential of electric drive and Autopilot and the coolness of the falcon wing doors. They throw out this delightful line:
It's an electric car that might just do to petrol and diesel what the Ford Model T did to the horse.
Having driven a Model X myself, it is one hell of a car, but it's not a perfect one or a paradigm-altering one (that'd be the Model 3, since it, like the Model T, will be generally affordable). At least Top Gear's footage looks great. Here's a video a fan cut together of all the segment's Model X shots.