2016 Tesla Model X: Not the First With a "Big Sky" Roof
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on April 27, 2016
The 2016 Tesla Model X's "Big Sky" panoramic windshield is just one of its many "hey, look at me! "features that makes it oh-so-different from other SUVs. Its pros and cons have already been touched upon, but the concept itself got me wondering: Who did it first?
In that earlier thread, commenter djd352 pointed out that the 2010 Citroën C3 was equipped with a similar windshield. But even that one wasn't the first.
Remember the Saturn Astra? You know, that fun-to-drive hatchback with the crummy engine that was supposed to be a shot in the arm for its brand? Well, either way, it was sold in Europe as the Opel Astra (or Vauxhall Astra if you were a subject of Queen Elizabeth II) and it was available with a "panoramic windscreen" option. In fact, both that version and the succeeding generation that you might remember from Top Gear's Reasonably Priced Car fame had it as an option. Near as I can tell, this Astra is the first modern production example of the giant windshield concept.
Vauxhall Astra's "panoramic windscreen"
Tesla Model X's "Big Sky" panoramic windshield
According to the Germantastic 2011 Opel press release, "The windscreen allows those on the inside not just to enjoy rays of sun but also dramatic cloud patterns or street illuminations at night." Humdinger!
However, there is a key difference between the Opel and Tesla variations of this feature. GM's European division managed to affix a roller sunshade, "which is continuously variable (and) can be easily adjusted." In the below photo of the original Astra version, you can make out its track along the windshield edge.
There is no such thing in the Model X, which means the sun is quite often overhead baking you (even through the tint) and making you wish you'd brought along a baseball hat. There is a sun visor that swings out from the A pillar, but that's only helpful when the setting sun is directly ahead.
Given that Tesla managed to figure out the falcon doors and, you know, that whole lightning-fast electric SUV thing, it's a shame it didn't think of a "roller sunshade." Just one of the Model X's many little oversights you'll hear about in the coming months.
James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor @ 1,185 miles