What is it?
It has been a long two years for European Tesla fans. The Model Y has been on the road in the US since 2020, but only now has the compact SUV arrived here.
Based on the Tesla Model 3 saloon, the Model Y adds a degree of practicality, a chunkier stance and a heftier price. Starting at £54,990, the Long Range tested here is one of two variants, beside the £64,990 Performance.
It uses the same battery pack as the Model 3, at an estimated 75kWh (Tesla is notoriously coy about capacities), which supplies energy to two motors, positioned at the front and rear, for 434bhp and 424lb ft of torque.
That’s good enough for 0-62mph in a rapid 4.8sec – streets ahead of the 6.9sec of the Kia EV6.
What’s it like?
Power delivery is smooth and instant. In a car of this size, it can be face-melting. Four-wheel drive keeps you planted to the road, particularly in the corners, while the steering is also a strong point. Despite weighing the same as a rhino, the Model Y handles dependably and smoothly. There isn’t too much feel, but you feel confident in corners, especially with the lighter Comfort steering mode.
The most noticeable change the Model Y brings over the Model 3 is its vastly improved practicality. It’s 181mm higher and 50mm longer than its saloon sibling, so head room and rear leg room are ample. The spacious cabin also feels light, thanks to the huge standard panoramic roof.
There are several big storage areas dotted around the car and it has a huge 854-litre boot, increasing to a van-like 2100 litres with the rear seats down (plus a 117-litre ‘frunk’).
In what is otherwise a widely refined package, the ride is a bit of a letdown. On the standard 19in Gemini wheels, it feels rigid, if not uncomfortable or boneshaking. The optional 20in wheels could exacerbate the problem, as we experienced abroad last year.
The interior looks wonderfully clean and tidy – perhaps too tidy for some, because there’s no instrument display and physical controls are limited to two scrollers on the steering wheel; buttons to open the doors; typical window switches; and two stalks behind the steering wheel that control the indicators, the screenwash, the cruise control and Tesla’s effective Autopilot functions.