The Tesla Model Y builds on all of the best attributes of the Model 3 with an SUV body to provide even more interior space. All-wheel drive and a driving range of just over 500 kilometres tick the right boxes, but it faces a growing amount of competition from established brands, so how does it fare?
In the metal
There's more than a little familiarity to the exterior design of the Tesla Model Y. Taking a similar look around the front as the Model 3, it gets slender black cladding around its wheel arches and along the rocker panel to hint at its SUV intentions. It gets 19-inch wheels as standard, with the option of upgrading to 20-inch items.
The Model Y continues the simple, almost minimalist design that Tesla applies to its cars. The door handles sit flush with the bodywork and are flicked open by pressing in with your thumb. It's a task that take a couple of attempts to get right, though the frameless doors add to the premium look that Tesla is going for with this car. A high roofline results in a large glasshouse that contributes to the airy feeling inside.
There's little issue with headroom in the rear seat, either. It will fit three across the rear and both outer seats have ISOFIX child seat mounting points. As the front seats are mounted on elevated rails there is loads of room for stretching out and putting feet underneath them - and the floor is flat all the way across. Along with air vents, you'll find two USB-C charge ports on the back of the centre console. As standard, there's also a vast panoramic glass roof that does look spectacular and gives a tremendous view of the world going by for those sat in the rear.
Despite the curvy exterior design, the Model Y proves to be huge spacious. Under the bonnet is a 117-litre compartment that's ideal for holding charging cables and other oddments. Opening the electrically operated tailgate reveals 854 litres of boot space (when loaded to the roof) and that's before you drop the rear seats down. A 60:40 split sees them fold flat with the boot floor to bring the total cargo volume to a van-like 2,158 litres. In some markets Tesla offers a third row of seats, but this option won't be available for right-hand-drive models in the near future, if at all.
The front cabin of the Model Y is a love-it-or-hate-it design, consisting of a round steering wheel with only two spherical multifunction controllers and a 15.4-inch touchscreen mounted at the centre of the dashboard. Almost every aspect of the Tesla is controlled through this, and it also shows driving information such as the speed. It is lightning quick to react and is unlike any other infotainment system on the market - it's a very slick piece of tech.
It's immediately obvious that the Model Y rides much more firmly than the Tesla Model 3. This harshness comes to the fore when driving the Tesla on typical Irish roads where the surfaces are rippled and broken. Any lumps are shocked through the cabin, forming one of the only blots on the Tesla's driving performance copybook, albeit a big blot. We also noticed rattles from the rear passenger headrests, but other than that the interior quality seemed fine.
Find some fresher, smoother tarmac and the Model Y rides more sweetly and the performance of its dual-motor powertrain is seriously pacy. It will bolt away from rest and onto 100km/h in only five seconds, effortlessly accelerating thanks to its all-wheel-drive system. Show it a series of fast bends and its weight does become more apparent, although actual body lean isn't that bad.
We'd argue that a family-orientated SUV doesn't need to be this fast at all, and that also goes for the even more potent Model Y Performance that is set to follow. However much of it you use, the power delivery is extremely smooth and when your skull isn't being thrust back into the headrest, the Tesla will cruise along with the littlest of effort.
Indeed, if you show some prudence with your right foot then you will be better placed to exploit the Model Y's decent driving range. The official figure of 507 kilometres puts it up with the best of the them in this segment. A hearty level of energy recuperation means that you can effectively drive the Model Y using only one pedal, but the friction brakes will stop it swiftly when needed.
On motorway runs it travels very quietly, proof of its excellent aerodynamics that results in minimal levels of wind noise. We expect that most people will be able to squeeze 300 kilometres of constant motorway driving from a full charge.
What you get for your money
Like the rest of the Tesla line-up, the Model Y range is simple, with pricing that starts at €69,800. There are five exterior paint colours to choose from and 19-inch wheels come as standard. On the inside buyers can choose from two interior designs - an all-black cabin with a wood panel across the dashboard fascia, or a white and black interior that has a more modern look, but costs €1,200 more.
It's also worth noting that the Tesla Model Y sold here in Europe comes equipped with a CCS-combo charge port meaning that, as well as the Tesla Supercharger network, it can also use all of the other fast charging and AC public stations around the country.
The Tesla Model Y takes many of the appealing features of the Model 3 and combines them with the added practicality of a larger and more spacious SUV format. Its large battery and efficient drivetrain give it plenty of driving range to suit most people and other than an overly firm ride at times it delivers a hefty on-road performance.
Many thanks to DCEV.ie