Meet the Tesla Model X, the All-Electric SUV that Can Smoke a Porsche

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David McNew / Reuters

Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk unveils the Tesla Motors Model X electric vehicle at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California February 9, 2012.

Electric car-maker wunderkind, Tesla Motors, unveiled its first all-electric crossover SUV, the Tesla Model X, at a ballyhooed event last night in Torrance, California — that much, we’d expected. Something we didn’t expect: The company says that with the right options, it’s actually capable of out-accelerating a Porsche 911.

Imagine cruising around your neighborhood in one of these, a vehicle that probably exists at the intersection of “soccer parent” and “motorsports.” Inside, you’re looking at dual electric motors (one for the front wheels, another for the rear — consider the all-wheel-drive control in this thing) and either a 60 or 95 kilowatt battery pack, giving it a range of between 220 and 270 miles off a full charge.

(MORE: Battery Warning: Why Electric Vehicles Have Yet to Take Off)

Better still, it’s apparently part-DeLorean — the rear passenger doors lift like falcon wings, but with extra hinges to allow the doors to fully open in tighter confines. And it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds (the 2012 Porsche 911 does so in 4.6 seconds, which, granted, is a little slow for a sports car). But Tesla’s Model X is a crossover SUV — by comparison, the 2012 Ford Explorer takes 6.6 seconds, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee takes 6.5 seconds and the 2012 Mazda CX-7 takes 7.0 seconds. Is Tesla’s Model X the fastest-accelerating crossover or straight-up SUV in the world? Looks like it.

The Model X is essentially a super-sized Tesla Model S, the company’s full-size sedan with a base price of $57,400 (in turn, a more affordable alternative to the Tesla Roadster, a sports car with a base price of $109,000). The Model X, by comparison, is expected to retail for between $60,000 and $85,000, a tier Tesla says it expects to “redefine the upscale SUV market.”

Inside, you have three seat rows (Tesla says the Model X can accommodate seven), a cargo area up front (like the Model S) that doubles as an impact buffer zone in a head-on crash, plus a substantial cargo area in the rear. That amounts to as much or more space than the average minivan.

When? Put your waiting caps on: Tesla’s taking reservations now, but won’t begin production until next year, and don’t look for delivery until 2014.

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