Fie Lucan causes a flutter when she arrives at a shoot in the Tesla’s battery-driven car . The verdict? The seven-seater “Blue Bullet” is a hit on and off the road—and can carry enough ammo for a small army
Hailing from the wilds of Scandinavia, I was brought up in Denmark and Scotland with a born love of shooting and a Viking zest for the kill. I now have 30 years of experience in big game, clay- and box-pigeon, and traditional British game shooting. I shoot competitively on an international basis, and have enjoyed the privilege of representing both Team GB and France. I also run a sporting agency—Fie’s Club—founded in 2010 to organize exclusive clay and game days.
One might correctly imagine that my passion for shooting involves a good deal of travel, and certainly I spend much of the season crisscrossing the UK in my trusty Range Rover to varied, often far-flung shoots. Recently I was offered the chance to exchange my regular steed for the Tesla X. This was an intriguing opportunity since my twin brother, who lives in Norway, had explained the popularity of such vehicles amongst his peers, noting that the combination of “green credentials” and “luxury” appeals to a certain set—possibly more typically associated with LA. The Tesla, it seems, has, er, traction … Thus it was that I found myself at the controls of an electric blue Tesla X with seating clad, ironically, in vegan faux-leather to begin a journey that, whilst not problem-free, did hint at a different and enjoyable way of driving.
As a lady gun, I’m used to a certain amount of attention when I arrive at shoots, but this was overshadowed by the interest that the Tesla X drew. Everyone, whether in his or her trusty Land Rover or gargantuan Rolls-Royce, came to eyeball the “Blue Bullet”, as I christened the Tesla. The cool “falcon-wing” rear doors, which open upward, were a particular draw. Not only are these funky and sci-fi, but they are also elegant and practical, offering excellent access to the rear space. This is important as we guns carry a large amount of paraphernalia. Therefore, with ammo and shotguns, spare kit and suitcases, easily accessed space and storage compartments in the car become very necessary.
The seven-seater Tesla lets the two back seats lie flat at the easy touch of a button. That gives you extra room in the boot, plus in the load area itself there is a further deep, covered space big enough for gun case, cartridge bag, and boots. This is handy when transporting guns and not wanting them to be left in sight. The bonnet serves as an extra storage place, whilst also serving as a large frontal crumple zone. The quoted cargo volume is 88 cubic feet in five-seater formation, which was hard to visualize until I converted to units I can understand—approximately 300 Louboutin boxes. That’s a lot of shoes! Or 150 slabs of ammo (37,500 cartridges), enough to start a war to reintroduce the Danegeld. It was a fabulous bonus that the Tesla would automatically open its door as I approached with my hands full and the key in my pocket.
Back in the field, and it’s worth mentioning that many shoots use a “gun bus”, often a trailer pulled by a tractor or an old Second World War personnel carrier, which is great for camaraderie and also puts less stress on the grounds. It’s a good idea, although many get car sick in them and one has to transfer all one’s kit from car to bus. In comparison to a gun bus, the Tesla X was a dream. My silent companion was a battery-driven vehicle with four doors. It’s as stealthy as a leopard and as fast as a cheetah. It adapts well to off-road driving, too, and, when meeting wild running fords in the field, I simply raised the height of the car at a touch of its control screen, and its four-wheel drive system progressed unfazed. With seven seats, the camaraderie of the gun bus need not be lost either. I was thrilled.
Being battery powered, the Blue Bullet requires charging. The enormous central control screen, rather like a dedicated giant tablet, speedily guides one to the nearest Tesla Supercharger station. There are many around London and the bigger cities. In the countryside, however, they are rather sparse—which caused a mammoth elevation in my cortisol level as the battery reserves dropped. Just as my guns had been blazing away in the fields, so had the heating, lights and the awesome music system in the car. I quickly felt I was a contender on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as I found myself phoning a friend in sheer panic, asking where I would possibly find the nearest Tesla Supercharging place. It had to be a specific Tesla point, as the charging otherwise would have to be longer and overnight, or would have required an alternative charging cord for a paid recharging point. My friend rang Tesla support, who were very helpful. It turns out that, unless it is a dedicated Tesla Supercharging point, there is not much “super” behind the charging concept. One really would have to plan journeys around Tesla charging points rather than being on time and avoiding the rush hour!
I have to admit that I was embarrassed to ask my host if I could plug in my car overnight. I felt like that irritating guest who has forgotten his ammo or turns up too early. However, at a proper Tesla Supercharger point, the car would only need to charge for 20 minutes to an hour, giving the driver time to relax, refresh, sleep, or enjoy a mani-pedi, a blow dry and a coffee. Arguably, this aspect of having to take a break to recharge might make many a safer driver. It also gave me the chance to chat to other Tesla drivers who had come to charge. Some mentioned that they would visit the nearest Supercharger three times per week. That made me laugh, as I cannot understand why one would buy an expensive car and then go and hang in a rather undesirable motorway services several times a week. Hardly the Tesla lifestyle choice alluded to earlier!
So to the name. All my cars receive a sobriquet—I call my current car the “Panther” due to its colour. I labelled this Tesla the “Blue Bullet” as it accelerates from zero to 60mph in under five seconds. Despite this high performance, the Tesla’s low centre of gravity keeps everything feeling stable and sure-footed. Whilst not yet an operational feature, Teslas are equipped with hardware for future autonomous driving. Roll on the day when I can summon the self-driving Blue Bullet to my door.
Read Livia Firth’s test drive of the Tesla Model X in Los Angeles here
From Vanity Fair En Route, published with the Summer 2017 issue of Vanity Fair, and on sale June 2