Tesla Model Y review
The Tesla Model Y is essentially a raised SUV version of the Model 3. It comes with the same blend of a great range, quirky software and Tesla’s brilliant global charging network.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Tesla Model Y
Based on the hugely popular Model 3, it’s a bit like if someone uploaded a picture of a Model 3 into Photoshop and started stretching its proportions. It’s longer and ever so slightly wider, but noticeably (more than 15cm) taller, meaning it looks more like a shrunken Model X.
The extra size means, unsurprisingly, extra space. The Model Y was first shown as a seven-seat model directly rivalling the EQB, but it’s only sold as a five-seater for the time being – Tesla won’t say when three-row models will go on sale.
Still, those in the rear get more head and legroom than in a Model 3, and all the seats are raised up to give a better view out. It also offers a huge 1,869-litre load bay with the rear seats down, which is more than you get even in the roomy Skoda Enyaq. You get a panoramic glass sunroof as standard to make the interior feel light and airy, too.
Like every other Tesla including the Model 3, the Model Y has a giant infotainment screen dominating the dashboard, and very little in the way of physical switchgear. The screen is in a landscape style (rather than portrait), is 15-inches in size and used to control almost all the car’s systems – even the door mirrors. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is one of the best screens on the market in terms of graphics and response.
Instead of using a key, you access the Tesla using your phone and you can send electronic keys to friends and family for car sharing. That’s done using the Tesla app, which also allows you to heat and cool the car before you get in it, track the car’s location and even limit its top speed.
Summon Mode is by far the cleverest feature, though. It means the Model Y will be able to drive out of its parking space and meet you, autonomously.
The Model Y could well be the most complete Tesla yet. It's cheaper than a Model X and not much bigger than a Model 3, yet you can squeeze six of your mates in
That said, most of the time you’ll want to do the driving – if only to experience the Tesla’s ludicrous acceleration. The top-end Performance version can get from 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 150mph.
While cheaper models could arrive later, initially the Model Y is available in the UK in two versions: Long Range and Performance.
As the name suggests, the Long Range can go furthest on a charge with a claimed range of 315 miles. Its 0-69mph time is 4.8 seconds, which is hardly slow. But, of course, the Performance model has supercar-baiting pace. That sacrifices range, however, which is down to 298 miles.
The Model Y does a decent job of mimicking the Model 3 when it comes to handling, too. There’s little body lean and quick steering to make it feel more agile than it should given its size, although it isn’t quite as entertaining as the saloon. The ride is also firm – more so if you spec the optional 20in wheels, where it borders on harsh at times.
Of course, the Model Y will have access to Tesla’s comprehensive and reliable Supercharger charging network. The latest 250kW Superchargers will add 75 miles of range to the Model Y in just five minutes, while 15 minutes of charging will add 158 miles.
UK pricing for the Tesla Model Y has been confirmed ahead of the first cars arriving in early 2022. The Long Range model will kick off from £54,990, while the Performance version starts at £64,990.
Check out our leasing deals on the Model Y, and other Teslas, by clicking this link.
The Tesla Model Y offers enough room for five adults to sit pretty comfortably and has a huge boot. It’s a shame there’s no seven seat option yet, however.
The Tesla Model Y is around 15cm taller than the Model 3 on which it’s based, and that means passengers will be more comfortable.
The driving position is great, once you’ve fiddled about with the electric steering wheel adjustment buried in the touchscreen. Tall drivers might wish the seat adjusted a little lower, but the raised position means a great view out and loads of space for the front seat passenger
What’s more, it means the rear seat bases aren’t as close to the floor as they are in a Model 3. This means your legs can slide lower and below the seat in front, which reduces the feeling that you’re squatting.
Those in the back also get plenty of headroom; even with that glass roof, six footers will have no trouble. Legroom is only a bit better than the Model 3 and isn’t as generous as a Ford Mustang Mach E, however. Still, the completely flat floor means a medium-sized adult can fit just fine in the middle row, while all three rear seats are heated as standard for extra comfort.
The Model Y has good sized front door bins that can easily cope with 1.5-litre bottles of water. But there’s far more storage than that.
For starters, you get not one but two deep cubbyholes in the centre console. One is below the armrest and comes with a 12v socket, while the other sits in front of two large cupholders and is deeper than you might expect. The glovebox isn’t a bad size, either, but it’s annoying that you have to open it via the touchscreen.
Those in the rear get a couple of decent sized door bins, while the centre armrest folds down to reveal a pair of cupholders. We wish Tesla would fit a cover to them, though, so when it’s being used as an armrest your elbows don’t fall into them.
This is where the clever packaging of the Model Y really pays off. Like other Teslas it gets not one, but two boots – the main one in the rear, and a small ‘frunk’ under the bonnet where the engine is in a petrol or diesel car.
The biggest bonus of the Model Y is its proper hatchback tailgate, which makes loading large items much easier than the restrictive saloon bootlid on a Model 3. It’s electric to make access easier, while there’s no real load lip to speak of.
The large boot is even roomier than it appears at first glance. Not only is there deep wells either side of the boot floor to store smaller items and stop them rolling around, but there’s also a really deep space hidden under the boot floor itself. There’s a secondary under-floor storage area which is less deep, which would be filled if Tesla offered the Model Y with seven seats.
Folding the rear seats is easily done with an electric folding mechanism activated from the boot – impressively, it’s standard on all models. You get a huge 1,869 litres of space with the seats down, too, which is more than even the roomy Skoda Enyaq. That’s also not including the ‘frunk’ – a space under the bonnet where you can store the charging cables and even a couple of shopping bags.
The Tesla Model Y has the same strong performance as the Model 3, and handles pretty well. It’s shame the ride is quite unsettled on UK roads.
You can choose between two versions of the Tesla Model Y, initially at least, because unlike with the Model 3 on which it’s based there will be no entry level Standard Range Plus variant at launch.
The cheapest model is therefore the Long Range version. Even that puts out a healthy 440hp, though, with electric motors powering both the front and rear wheels for a 0-60mph time of 4.8 seconds and a 133mph top speed.
The Long Range is the only version we’ve driven, and frankly it offers all the performance most people are ever likely to need – and some. Being electric and four-wheel drive it fires off the line with real urgency in Standard mode, although you can switch to Chill mode to slacken off the throttle response and reduce the power for a more relaxed driving experience.
The Performance model only adds around 50hp or so on paper, but is capable of a blistering 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds. That’s as fast as a four-wheel drive BMW M3, which shows you how bonkers quick it is in every situation.
The trade-off with the Model Y over the cheaper Model 3, though, is that its heavier and taller body impacts both performance and efficiency. Tesla estimates it’ll do around half a mile per kWh less than a Model 3, which is why the Long Range model promises a range of 315 miles compared with 360 miles on the equivalent Model 3. That figure is about the same as the longest-range VW ID 4, but not as far as the most efficient versions of the Ford Mustang Mach E.
As you’d expect from a car based on the Model 3, the Tesla Model Y is quite sharp and agile given its size and weight. There isn’t too much body lean in the bends, while the steering is quick and direct.
The view out the front is great, too, which combined with the commanding driving position gives you plenty of confidence behind the wheel. The view out the rear is pretty appalling, though, as the rear window is small and steeply raked. At least you get a suite of cameras around the car which makes parking much easier.
True, a Jaguar i-Pace is a bit more entertaining to hustle down a country lane, but the Tesla is still a capable car. The Model Y is noticeably less fun to drive than the equivalent Model 3, however – blame the extra 300kg or so that the Model Y carries.
We’re not sure the trade off between handling and ride comfort is as good as the best driving electric SUVs, however. Our test car rode on optional 20in wheels which meant potholes and manhole covers were felt (and heard) with a thump, while even on smooth tarmac there is still a firm edge to the ride that picks out imperfections.
Also, it’s not the quietest electric SUV around. Road and wind noise aren’t exactly intrusive, but they are heard, while the suspension isn’t as quiet as you might hope. If you want a more refined electric SUV the Audi Q4 is a better all-rounder.
The Model Y’s interior looks and feels like a Model 3, so it’s super minimalist, while material quality seems decent enough
Tesla Model Y colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.