Tesla Model Y SUV review
"The Tesla Model Y takes what makes the Model 3 great and adds SUV practicality"
- Fast and efficient
- Spacious interior
- Hatchback boot
- Patchy build quality
- Limited model range
- Only available with five seats at launch
Verdict – Is the Tesla Model Y a good car?
We think the Tesla Model Y is an appealing electric car thanks to its impressive performance and low running costs, while offering more practicality than the Model 3. It also features lots of advanced technology that helps keep it ahead of most other mainstream rivals. Some customers have reported sub-standard build quality, however, and when we tested the Model Y against the Volkswagen ID. Buzz we found the suspension to be quite firm compared with its German rival. Recent price drops mean the Tesla is an even more tempting electric SUV for those after performance, range and space for the family.
Tesla Model Y models, specs and alternative
Building on the success of the Model 3 is Tesla’s Model Y, which ticks all the necessary boxes for it to be a hit with UK buyers. The Model Y shares quite a bit with its smaller Model 3 sibling – a car that’s currently one of the UK’s best selling models – but adds SUV styling and a useful dose of practicality to make it even more desirable.
The market is now awash with plenty of electric SUVs including the Volkswagen ID.4, ID. Buzz, Skoda Enyaq iV, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, so the Tesla Model Y isn’t as much of a trailblazer as originally intended.
Part of the reason for the delay was Tesla CEO Elon Musk's desire for European examples of the Model Y to be built at a new Tesla Gigafactory in Germany, the completion of which faced significant hold ups. The Y began arriving with the first American customers in March 2020. Some time after that, there were still hurdles in getting Model Ys out; our original test car for a UK drive was a Dutch-registered, left-hand-drive example. We’ve since tested it against the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, and while the Tesla still offers impressive performance, we found the Volkswagen to be the superior choice in terms of comfort.
There are Long Range and Performance models, sticking closely to the Model 3 on which the Model Y is based. Tesla recently dropped its prices significantly, with entry-level models starting from just under £45,000, and Long Range and Performance models upwards of around £53,000 and £60,000 respectively. Both Long Range and Performance versions offer impressive acceleration and four-wheel drive but it's the latter that's likely to be faster than any rival, with 0-60mph taking under four seconds.
The entry-level rear-wheel drive Model Y is capable of 283 miles on a charge, while the Long Range is capable of around 331 miles, while the Performance’s faster credentials come at the expense of its range, which is around 319 miles. These are impressive numbers but according to official figures, they're no longer class-leading, with the Mustang Mach-E capable of close to 380 miles in its most efficient specification. The Model Y does have an ace card to play in the form of access to Tesla’s impressive Supercharger network, which has chargers at many motorway service stations.
Inside, the Model Y has the same minimalist interior and technology as the Model 3, focused around a high-res 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. Air vents have been replaced by a narrow slot and leather by vegan-friendly materials. It works well once you get used to its controls but quality isn't on the same level as the top European manufacturers.
A taller roof means there's more space and headroom inside the Model Y than the Model 3, while its hatchback boot is much more useful for loading luggage or sports equipment. However, the Enyaq's boxy shape makes it even more accommodating.
Our UK test drive revealed that the Model Y has a firm ride and is occasionally uncomfortable on larger wheels. This has been expected of electric cars in the past; most have firmer suspension to support the heavy electric batteries onboard, but when we tested the Model Y against the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, we found the German rival to be comparatively soft and comfortable to drive.