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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model Y: performance, motor & drive

It’s startlingly quick for a family SUV, but the Model Y is bigger than most of its rivals and has a particularly firm ride

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

4.0 out of 5

Model

0-60mph

Top speed

Driven wheels

Power

Model Y

6.6s

135mph

Rear

342bhp

Long Range

4.8s

135mph

Four

384bhp

Performance

3.5s

155mph

Four

527bhp

While there’s very little doubting the Tesla Model Y’s sheer performance in terms of acceleration, this family SUV doesn't manage to offer the same level of driver engagement as the BMW iX1. If you’re not too fussed about the excitement factor, though, the Tesla is easy to drive both in town and on the motorway, although it does ride rather firmly.

Tesla Model Y 0-60mph, top speed and acceleration

Depending on which version you choose, the Model Y’s acceleration ranges from pressing you slightly back into your seat, all the way up to catapulting your internal organs back into the boot whenever you floor the throttle. Even the base Tesla Model Y RWD is pretty brisk; Tesla says 0-60mph is dispatched in 6.6 seconds which, in reality, is more than enough for most buyers.

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Long Range models get an extra motor on the front axle for more power and four-wheel-drive grip – although the difference in traction is only really noticeable in the slipperiest of conditions. The sprint to 60mph feels quite a bit faster, though, with the time being cut to just 4.8 seconds. The Performance model is faster still, almost to the point that it feels a bit unnecessary; 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds is enough to leave even serious sports cars in the dust – not an ability that’s necessarily useful when on the school run.

Handling

The Tesla Model Y can be described as ‘competent’, rather than particularly ‘fun’ or ‘engaging’ to drive. Once the novelty of seemingly unending performance under your right foot wears off, you’ll discover the Model Y does tend to feel a little heavy on a twisty road, with the car understeering whenever you throw it into a corner with too much gusto.

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Speaking of turning, the Model Y’s steering lacks any sort of feel; don’t get us wrong, it’s easy to place the car on the road and it doesn’t feel disconnected from the front axle at all, but you don’t get much sensation through the steering wheel, making it difficult to push the car to its limits – not that most owners will be interested in doing so. There are both ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ modes for the steering, with the latter adding a bit of weight.

In terms of ride quality, the Model Y is middling in this regard; most electric cars have pretty stiff suspension in order to account for the extra weight of the batteries. The Tesla’s, in this case, is especially firm – not to the point it’s uncomfortable, but it’s certainly noticeable over the biggest of bumps in the road. If comfort is your main concern, an Audi Q4 e-tron or Skoda Enyaq are your best bets.

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