Tesla unveils strangely familiar electric gullwing SUV


American electric car company Tesla has launched its latest model: a zero emissions people carrier with gullwing doors and supercar performance. There's a combination we never thought we'd see, ever.

Tesla says that its new Model X is "chock full of firsts," and that's at least partly true: it's definitely the first car we've seen that looks like a cross between a BMW 5 Series GT and a Porsche Panamera.

And why not? If you're going to model the aesthetic of your new electric people carrier on two cars, you might as well pick two of the most ugly unique.

The seven-seat MPV boast some astonishing stats, though: 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, four-wheel drive and the ability to go up to 270-miles on a single battery charge.

That makes it quicker than a Jaguar XKR, but with well over twice the battery range of a Nissan Leaf. And, of course, it's zero emissions at the tailpipe.

Tesla already sells the two-seat Roadster and will begin selling the four-seat Model S saloon next year. But the company believes this will be its core, big selling model when it hits the shops in 2014.

Buyers will get the option of two battery setups, one packing 60kWh and the other 85kWh, with the former offering a 210-mile range and the latter the headline-grabbing 270.

The optional Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive system puts an electric motor on each axle, giving the car four-wheel drive, and enabling power to be directed to each wheel individually for optimum traction in any given situation. Rear-wheel drive will be standard.

And then there are the doors, which we'd traditionally call 'gullwing' but which Tesla calls 'Falcon Wings'. They're unique to an MPV and of a flamboyant sort of nature usually reserved for the most exotic supercars; the Model X is perhaps the first MPV ever that dads will buy specifically to enhance their image.

Occupants of the rearmost pair of seats gain access over the tilt-sliding middle row of chairs.

The leather-swathed dashboard is dominated by an iPad-dwarfing 17-inch touchscreen interface, used to control all the car's functions.

No power figures yet, but two versions will be available: standard, which hits 60mph in "under five seconds," and the XKR-trumping 'Model X Performance'.

No prices yet either, but Tesla says its cost will be comparable with the Model S saloon on which it's based, whose range starts at around $60,000 (£38,000) rising to $80,000 (£51,000).

Here's looking forward to Top Gear getting one.