2022 Tesla Model Y
The first shipment of right-hand-drive electric SUVs has arrived in the UK.
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 Model 3 saloon, the Model Y adds a degree of functionality, a chunkier stance and a heftier price. Starting at £54,990, the (officially 331-mile) Long Range tested here is one of two variants, alongside 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 Kia EV6’s 6.9sec time. Power delivery is smooth and instant. In a car of this size, it can be shockingly abrupt. Four-wheel drive maintains traction, however, and the car generates good grip and possesses reassuringly accurate steering. Despite weighing the same as a rhino, the Model Y handles dependably. There isn’t too much steering feel, but the rack is sensibly geared, and the lighter Comfort steering mode makes guiding the Model Y easy. The most noticeable change the Model Y brings over the Model 3 is its vastly improved practicality.
It is 181mm taller 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 storageareas dotted around the car and it has a surprisingly large boot whose capaciousness swells dramatically with the rear seats folded. There’s also a 117-litre ‘frunk’. In what is otherwise a refined package, the ride is a bit of a let-down. On the standard 19in Gemini wheels, it feels rigid, if not outright uncomfortable or boneshaking. The optional 20in wheels can exacerbate the problem, as we experienced in a left-hand-drive Model Y last year.
The interior is typically minimalist – perhaps too clean and 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.
Tesla’s omnific 15.0in touchscreen takes you to the radio settings, climate control and other functions you will need in more of a pinch, like the windscreen wipers. The display is intuitive and clear, but splash through a big puddle, for example, and you’ll be frantically trying to find the right menu before experiencing a prang (although you can tap the stalk for a single wipe).
There’s no way for rear passengers to adjust their seat heating or climate control, either. As a user interface, though, the infotainment on the whole is excellent, the Google-made satnav, Supercharger integration and 360deg camera all being first class. Tesla’s build quality remains contentious, and some areas of the interior aren’t up to the touchscreen’s standard. The rear-view mirror and sun visors both feel delicate, as do the indicator and cruise control stalks.
Meanwhile, the passengerside external camera suffers from continual ‘blinding’, said to be due to condensation. Still, the Model Y is a great addition to the electric SUV segment, taking the best qualities of the Model 3 and making them available for the whole family. Surely a recipe for success.