Are Tesla Model X’s Papillon Doors Worth It?
The 2016 Tesla Model X is one of those cars that can’t seem to escape the headlines. For one reason or another, Tesla’s new but still unreleased model attracts attention, even if it’s not purposely trying to get it. Take for example a recent video taken by two people who happened to see a Model X test mule in an open parking space. Lucky for them, they were able to record the Model X at the exact time one of its falcon doors opened. From there, they also see the driver of the Model X hop into the car, only to step out again just to close the latch of the falcon doors.
It was a curious sight to see, to say the least. More importantly, seeing the whole thing raised an all-important question about the Model X’s falcon doors: are they worth it?
Answering that is a little tricky because it puts creativity and practicality at a cross roads. Are those doors cool enough as they are that Tesla should definitely use them in the production model, or are they nothing more than showpieces that have no place in the production version of the Model X?
Continue reading to find out where I side in this matter.
Why it matters
The doors might be aesthetically pleasing, but they do raise a number of functional issues that can’t be overlooked. First, if those doors raise up the way they’re supposed to, don’t expect to see any roof racks on the Model X because there’s no space for them. This is crucial because Tesla’s slotting the Model X as a hybrid between a minivan and an SUV, catering to adventure-seekers and soccer moms alike. Well, if that’s the case, wouldn’t it make sense to have a luggage carrier or a ski rack on the roof? Tesla said that the Model X will eventually come with a towing hitch package option but even with that, owners will be limited on what they can stow there.
Second, how do you close the doors? With sports cars that feature gullwing doors, it’s easy to open and close the doors because the height of the car ensures that the doors won’t extend all the way to the sky when they’re fully open. But the Model X is different because as an SUV, it naturally has a higher ride height than a sports car. Add that to how those doors open up and it becomes tricky just trying to reach them. Oh, and has Tesla never heard of low-ceiling basement parking? When they’re fully open, those doors add another two or three feet to the SUV’s height.
Operationally, Tesla hasn’t divulged details on how the doors work, but I think they carry the same principles as automatic garage doors. There must be a switch or a button in the dash that automatically lowers the doors so that it becomes easier to close them. Then there’s part about actually shutting the doors closed. In the video, you actually see the test driver manually shutting the doors closed from the outside. See how he pushes the door at the last second to shut it close completely? I think this has more to do with the prototype itself that was being tested than in any kind of door-shutting technology. Remember, minivans have carried doors that close by themselves for years. I don’t see why Tesla won’t adopt that kind of technology on the Model X. One thing I can tell you is that closing falcon doors manually takes a lot out of its “cool” factor.
Ultimately, this leads to another important question: is it even worth it to put falcon doors on the Model X? On the one hand, I understand why Tesla wants to do it. It’s cool, simple as that. I can’t disagree with that because I’ve never seen an SUV with anything other than conventional doors, let alone falcon doors that cast a mean mug when they’re fully open. On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s worth having them if it means losing out on some important features like the roof racks.
It all boils down to the age-old question of style versus substance. Those falcon doors are nice and all, but they fall in the ranks of novelties to me. They’re great at the start but in the course of time, the appeal’s going to wear off once people realize that they rob the Model X of some basic SUV functions.
Read our full review on Tesla Model X in here.