In-depth reviews

Tesla Model Y review

The long-awaited Model Y boasts ultra-rapid charging and greater practicality than the Model 3, making Tesla's mid-size SUV one of the best electric cars on sale

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Staggering performance
  • Spacious and practical
  • Minimalist, high-tech cabin

Cons

  • Seven seats not available at launch
  • Less range than Model 3
  • Firm suspension
ModelRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Long Range315 miles11hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)36mins (0-80%, 250kW)
Performance298 miles11hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)36mins (0-80%, 250kW)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model Y to the world. Arguably the brand’s most important car to date, the Model Y is essentially an SUV variant of the Model 3 saloon, featuring a raised ride height and up to seven seats – not to mention the usual startling performance claims and the potential for class-leading range typical of Teslas. 

Back in 2019, it was the only car of its type, but fast forward to today, and the Model Y is surrounded by talented competitors. It faces heavy competition from a vast range of similarly priced rivals, including the Audi Q4 e-tron, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Mercedes EQA, Volkswagen ID.4 and ID.5, with dozens more waiting in the wings.

Like all of Tesla’s cars, it’s hard to mistake the Model Y for anything else on the road. It’s not so much a condensed version of the bigger Model X SUV, but rather a progression of the Model 3’s design, but with a chunkier body and taller roof to allow more room inside.

Two versions of the Model Y are confirmed for the UK, both featuring dual-motor setups for all-wheel-drive. At the top-of-the-range Performance version is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds – faster than most versions of the much-pricier Porsche Taycan – with a top speed of 150mph.

We drove the Long Range model, which gets a slightly slower 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds and 135mph top speed. But even so, it’s still one of the fastest cars in the class, and in this guise the Model Y still delivers the instant hit of acceleration that will be familiar for all existing Tesla owners. In the meantime, traction is very good on the all-wheel-drive Model Y we tried, and there’s a strong amount of grip in the corners, too. The Model Y’s steering is pretty fast, but devoid of feedback for the driver. Plus, thanks to the car’s two-tonne weight, direction changes aren’t as swift as the speed of the steering would suggest. 

Tesla has also had to stiffen the suspension in order to cope with the additional heft, which means the ride is quite firm. Admittedly, the 20-inch wheels featured on our test car didn’t help, and while the stiffness might not cause any issues when you’re cruising along on smooth tarmac, the bumpy potholed UK roads we took the car out on result in an unpleasant ride. Motorway refinement in the Model 3’s sister car is excellent, as there is hardly any wind or road noise, making for a near silent driving experience. Plus, put your foot down to overtake and the electric SUV is just as responsive as it is from a standstill.

Step inside, and you’re greeted with the same highly minimalist cabin as the Model 3 which is dominated by the 15-inch central touchscreen. Remember, there’s no driver’s display, so everything is operated via the screen – from the wipers to the climate controls.

The Model Y’s slick infotainment system works better than its rivals. However, getting used to it can be a bit of a learning curve. Voice commands are an easy way of circumnavigating the giant touchscreen while on the go and avoiding taking your eyes off the road to jump through menus. But, when you do need to interact with it, the high-resolution display is very clear, and there is a row of shortcut buttons along the bottom of the screen.

The display also relays live information about what the car’s Autopilot radar and camera systems are ‘seeing’ around it. It’s a helpful guide, especially if the adaptive system is engaged. Auto Steer still requires you to pay attention, because while it works well at detecting even the faintest road markings, it can still be thrown by patchy road surfaces and roads where there is no distinct white line to mark the edge of the lane.

Aside from the massive touchscreen, the Model Y also features a panoramic glass roof and plenty of room inside for all five seats. As well as space for passengers, you get a whopping 854 litres of boot space when filled from the laden to the roof and in five-seat form. On top of that, there’s a 117-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet - a feature that the majority of the Model Y’s rivals lack - perfect for keeping your charging cables in.

Tesla is only offering the Model Y in five-seat configuration from launch in the UK, unlike in North America where the mid-size electric SUV is available with an optional third row and can seat up to seven people. The low roofline  is expected to make things particularly uncomfortable for those in the rearmost row, though; we don’t expect anyone other than small kids would be able to use them.

Fully recharging from a 7.4kW home wallbox will take around 12 hours to complete, though one of the Model Y’s stand out features is its ultra-rapid charging capabilities. Find a fast enough charging point, and the Tesla can reach speeds up to 250kW, which is just shy of the 270kW both the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT can achieve.

There are a few charging points on other networks that provide those speeds, but one of the benefits of Tesla ownership is access to the brand’s extensive Supercharger network. Topping up the Model Y’s battery from 0-80% takes just over half-an-hour using one of Tesla's newest V3 Superchargers. The Supercharger network will begin opening up to other electric cars by the end of the year, but it’s not clear when this will start to happen in the UK.

Likely a result of the extra weight it has to lug around, the Model Y’s range figures are down compared to equivalent Model 3. The Performance model can only cover up to 298 miles, while the Long Range version we drove gets a 315-mile range. But as is usual with Teslas, the Model Y's energy consumption seems pretty efficient, so you should easily be able to cover over 300 miles on a charge if you go for the Long Range variant.

Thanks to the improved practicality, decent range, and more appropriate size compared to the Model X, the Model Y will suit a lot of UK buyers very well. Suffice to say, the Model Y is one of the best electric SUVs on the market.

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