We got our first look at Tesla’s new Model X last night, and in a pretty dramatic change from their 2013 Detroit Motor Show design prototype, the Model X has no silly fake grille-like thing on its face. Just a nice, clean front end, a bold move in a world where a prominent grille has become a design crutch.

Electric cars cooling needs differ pretty drastically from combustion vehicles, which is why so many electric cars either don’t have traditional grilles, or they have ridiculous fake grilles.

Most carmakers today use grille shape and design as the primary shorthand for conveying a cross-model familial look, with the only real notable exceptions being modern versions of classic cars that started out rear-engined and grille-less: the Fiat 500 and the VW Beetle. Most modern ‘corporate grilles’ are rapidly becoming baroque caricatures, like Lexus’ terrifying, gaping Predator-maw.


That’s why I’m so pleased to see Tesla stepping away from this easy shortcut, one they’ve been using on their own Model S. The new Model X has a clean, striking-looking front end, with some nice, crisp body molding, and a small air intake/badge strip in the center that sort of makes the car’s face feel oddly leonine.

With both a front trunk and rear cargo areas and all major mechanisms stuck under the floor, the packaging of the Model X is an excellent use of space. I suspect that the grille-less front is meant to pay tribute to the Model X’s packaging ancestor: the front trunk’d, rear-wagoned, under-floor engined Volkswagen Type IV. I know everyone’s going to assume this is a dig at Tesla, but I really do mean it as a compliment.


I get it, Elon. We know what you like.