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Tesla Model Y Rear-Wheel Drive arrives priced from £51,990

The popular Tesla Model Y gets an entry-level version that’s £6,000 cheaper than the Long Range model

  • Model Y Rear Wheel Drive now available
  • Pricing starts from £51,990
  • Sits below Model Y Long Range and Performance

An entry-level Tesla Model Y is now on sale in the UK, called Model Y Rear Wheel Drive. It’s the first single-motor version available, cutting the price by £6,000 to £51,990. It sits below the existing Long Range and Performance models and rivals the entry-level Ford Mustang Mach-E, which costs from £50,030.

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The Rear-Wheel Drive gets the same 82kWh battery (75kWh of which is usable) as the rest of the Model Y lineup, but it’s powered by a single electric motor mounted at the rear of the car with power going to the back wheels. Acceleration from 0-60mph is slower at 6.6 seconds, compared to 4.8 seconds for the Long Range just 3.5 seconds for the Performance. Top speed matches the Long Range at 135mph, whereas the Performance can hit 155mph where it’s legal to do so.

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The Model Y Long Range is capable of up to 351 miles on a single charge in Long Range specification. The Kia EV6 is capable of up to 328 miles with a 77.4kWh battery, while the large battery versions of the Volkswagen ID.4. Skoda Enyaq iV and Audi Q4 e-tron, all officially return just over 330 miles.

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Read on for the full UK pricing and specifications for the new Tesla Model Y.

2022 Tesla Model Y: performance, range and pricing

From launch only the Long Range version was offered, but this was quickly joined by the Performance model, both of which feature dual motors for all-wheel drive. From August 2022 a Rear Wheel Drive entry-level Model Y also arrived on Tesla’s website to order, with a single rear motor.

All three versions offer rapid performance and competitive range figures, with the Long Range variant capable of up to 351 miles between charges and 0-60mph in only 4.8 seconds.

While the Long Range model could hardly be called slow, the Performance has the ability to put some supercars in the shade. According to Tesla’s UK website, it sprints from 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and manages an estimated 319 miles of range in WLTP testing.

The Rear-Wheel Drive only has one electric motor, powering the rear wheels, but it can still get from 0 60mph in a respectable 6.6 seconds, which should be more than quick enough for most buyers. Its range also drops slightly, to 283 miles when fitted with 19-inch ‘Gemini’ alloy wheels, and 267 miles with 20-inch ‘Induction’ alloys. Its entry-level status means it also gets the slowest charging rate of the trio – its battery can be replenished at up to 170kW instead of 250kW.

Design, interior and technology

The Tesla Model Y was originally revealed by Elon Musk at an event in Los Angeles, California, in early 2019. It’s the brand’s first midsize SUV, which sits below the larger Model X and shares its underpinnings with the Model 3 saloon.

As was widely predicted, the Model Y follows the design themes of the rest of the Tesla model range, incorporating elements seen on the Model 3 and Model S executive cars as well as the Model X. The familiar Tesla blanked-off grille and the long curving roofline of the Model X are in evidence, helping deliver a slippery 0.23 drag coefficient and optimum aerodynamic efficiency. There are no party-piece gull-wing doors like the ones on the Model X, though.

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The Model Y and Model 3 are said to share around 70% of their parts. The Model Y has a 15mm longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and 56mm wider track (the distance between the left and right wheels).

The Model Y measures in at 4.75m long, 1.92m wide and 1.62m tall, making it 60mm longer, 70mm wider and 183mm taller than the Model 3. It also gets an additional 28mm of ride height, with a total ground clearance of 168mm. Inside, it offers increased space with the second row of seats getting an extra 135mm of legroom and 43mm more headroom.

Tesla has fitted a glass roof to deliver maximum light levels in the cabin. UK versions of the Model Y will only be available with a five-seat layout, with each of the rear seats folding completely flat to boost storage capacity. The design within the model Y is directly out of the usual Tesla minimalist playbook with many parts lifted directly from the Model 3. That means you get a steering wheel and pedals but virtually everything else is controlled via the large central display screen.

In terms of equipment, every Model Y comes reasonably well-appointed with a 13-speaker audio system, a panoramic glass roof, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a centre console charging pad for two smartphones. There’s also Tesla’s large 15-inch infotainment display, capable of displaying media, navigation and even games. A tow bar is also an optional extra, and can allow the Model Y to tow up to 1,600kg.

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All models get automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and a collision warning system, then there’s Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance suite based on a system of external cameras, sensors and radar arrays. It’s also possible to upgrade the Model Y to what Tesla calls Full Self-Driving capability, theoretically allowing the car to drive itself in urban areas and on motorways, although the law currently prevents owners from using the system to its full extent both in the US and the UK. A Tesla wallbox is also offered for £425.

What does it mean for car buyers?

The Model Y completes Tesla’s planned ‘S3XY’ model lineup, joining the existing Models S, 3 and X. It arrives at a time when the rest of the world’s manufacturers have rushed to join Tesla in the electric vehicle market, with an array of new models arriving in the past 12 months. But with the Model Y entering the mid-size electric SUV segment with a price tag of more than £50,000, it will be more expensive than flagship versions of rivals such as the Enyaq iV, ID.4 and Q4 e-tron, with its price tag putting it close to larger premium EVs like the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.

However, the fact the Long Range all-wheel-drive model version is capable of an estimated range of up to 351 miles is significant, as it gives the Model Y a range that’s not too far off its nearest rivals but with the added benefit of access to Tesla’s Supercharger charging network, as well as superior performance. As range and charging are key considerations for most buyers, particularly those considering switching to an electric car from a conventional petrol or diesel car, this combination could be a dealmaker for potential Model Y buyers.

Read our in-depth review of the Tesla Model Y here.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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