Tesla Model X detailed as first owners get their EV SUV

It's been three years since Tesla showed off the Model X for the first time, and the time has finally come for the first few cars to reach owners. The all-electric follow up to the Model S, complete with eye-catching gullwing doors, Tesla's second car has been punctuated with delays.

In fact, deliveries were meant to begin in early 2014, a deadline the company sailed past with not a car to show for it. In the meantime, however, Tesla hasn't been idle.

Progressive software and hardware updates to the Model S, including the entertainingly-named "Insane Mode" – followed by the even-more-ridiculous "Ludicrous Mode" – have given the electric sedan a greater turn of speed and longer range.

For the Model X, though, Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicked off with focusing on safety. Though the SUV is expected to carry a 5-star NHTSA rating, according to Musk it probably deserves at least one more star; the research suggests a segment-leading 6.5-percent probability of overall injury in a crash.

The tech weighs in too, though. The various sensors and radar systems are used for automatic emergency braking, tracking traffic around the SUV and intelligently hauling it to a halt should an accident look likely.

Meanwhile, the ultrasonic sensors on the side are used to automatically steer the car away from potential side collisions. A forward-looking camera, radar, and 360-degree sonar are all fitted as standard, paving the way for auto steering and autoparking.

While Tesla's home crowd was perhaps even more excited by the – industry first – true HEPA filter built into the Model X, in the parking lot it's likely to be the doors that gather the most attention.

At the front, the "auto presenting" doors automatically spot when the driver approaches and open, then close again when they're inside. At the rear, the "Falcon Wing" doors open up and then out – needing, Tesla says, just 30cm of space to each side – and come studded with sensors to make sure they won't slam into walls, other vehicles, or people trying to clamber inside.

Inside, there's a 17-inch touchscreen, voice control, and a seventeen speaker audio system. The windshield stretches up, panoramic over the heads of the front seat passengers, though there's a tint across the upper portion.

Up to seven people can fit inside, across three rows, and there's towing support for up to 5,000 pounds. Total power is 259 HP up-front and 503 HP at the back, with 713 lb-ft of torque in total.

The Model S has donated its powertrain, good for a 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds in Ludicrous mode (3.8 seconds in the P90D) and a top speed of 155 mph. It's all-wheel-drive as standard, with a 90 kWh battery – on the Signature Model X, at least – for 250 miles of range and a US MPGe rating of 89 of the P90D.

Though around 2,000 Tesla owners and would-be owners were invited, not everyone got to go home with a new toy. Only five of the earliest "Signature" preorder customers get the keys tonight, with the outstanding deliveries stretching out into 2016.