The tiff between Tesla and British car show Top Gear was the EV world’s equivalent of the OJ Simpson circus. After prickly presenter Jeremy Clarkson, a famous hater of all things electric (and most things American) gave the Roadster a snarkily negative review in 2008, Tesla sued for libel. The ensuing drama dragged on for three years, delivering a massive amount of publicity for both Tesla and Top Gear (expensive publicity for the former, which ended up paying over £100,000 in court costs).
The BBC show got its own back by refusing to review the Model S (and running a gushing review of the Fisker Karma, which was seen as a Tesla competitor at the time).
Well, a lot has changed over the past few years. The controversial Clarkson is gone, Tesla is the leader of a mushrooming market for plug-in vehicles, and Top Gear has aired a 10-minute review of the new Model X.
Presenter Rory Reid, who recently joined the show, went to New York to test drive the Model X P90DL, and delivered a rave review.
“Welcome to the future,” says Reid. “It’s an electric car that might just do to petrol and diesel what the Ford Model T did to the horse. Here I am in a spacious, luxurious six-seat SUV that aced every single crash test it’s ever been in.”
Reid praised the Tesla’s low center of gravity and instant torque. “It doesn’t roll around and – in bends – stays surprisingly flat. There’s really not an awful lot of feedback from the steering wheel but because it has no engine and it’s silent, you can hear the tires as they approach the limit of grip. It’s like driving with your ears, a very strange sensation but I like it.”
In true Top Gear tradition, Reid does a drag race with a 6.2 L supercharged V8 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. After demolishing the Dodge, Reid asks, “Am I still a petrol-head?”
He certainly sounds like a convert to electrons. “Forget cylinders and super unleaded, because the future is cells and supercapacitors. There’s no point trying to fight it because you can’t stop it. The future is here. And it’s electric.”