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First drive: Tesla Model Y

Date: 07 December 2021   |   Author: Martyn Collins

More spacious version of the popular Model 3 creates a new niche for Tesla.
Standard equipment:
Air equipment includes 19in alloy wheels, vegan leather trim, heated front seats and steering wheel.
Electric: 434hp, 483hp
Equipment grades:
Long Range, Performance

If you think that the Tesla Model Y looks like a taller, hatchback version of the popular Model 3, you would be right. Described as Tesla's mid-size SUV, sadly there's no extra seats like in its bigger brother, the Model X, as Tesla hasn't decided whether to offer an available seven-seater option for the Model Y in the UK yet. 

Interestingly, Tesla believes the Model Y will mostly be a conquest model. We suppose the lack of the extra seats would stop current Model X owners trading down, although the bigger SUV is currently unavailable. However, a spokesperson did admit that they expected some Model 3 owners to move into the Model Y. 

What you do get is a bigger body - only by 50mm, but the most obvious difference over the Model 3 is the Model Y's height. That taller, curvy roof adds 150mm. Still, even with five seats, this Tesla feels spacious inside, with the glass roof and low window line adding to the airy feel of the minimalist interior. It is more practical than the Model 3 too, as that hatchback equals an 854-litre boot, which can be extended to 2100 litres with the rear seats folded. Plus, an extra 117-litre frunk (or front boot) too. 

The dashboard is made up of the 15in touchscreen that controls the infotainment and all the interior features. Quality feels better than Teslas of the past and is the match of the Model 3. Apart from some metal detailing and a piece of lighter wood trim across the middle of the dashboard and door trims, the trim on our red test car was dark. 

Outside, the Model 3's influence on the styling is obvious. Overall, it's a clean, modern and curvy design, but the tall roof can look ungainly from some angles. 

Available to order now, with delivery in early 2022, there will be two Dual Motor versions available in the UK. Dual Motor means both models will have standard four-wheel drive. Long Range is the entry-level model - if you can call an SUV costing £54,990 entry-level. It has a scarcely believable 434hp, equalling 0-60mph acceleration in just 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 135mph. If 434hp isn't enough, the range-topping Performance has an incredible 483hp, is able to cover the 0-60mph dash in just 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph.

Considering the Model Y's performance, the range it's capable of is equally impressive. Plus, because it's a Tesla, it is also compatible with the company's current Supercharger network of more than 6,000 Superchargers across Europe, as well as its new V3 Superchargers, which can charge at rates of up to 1,000 miles per hour. The Long Range we're driving here is capable of 315 miles between charging, and the Performance slightly less at 298 miles. Both can also be charged at rates of up to 250kW, by a rapid charger and at up to 11kW at an AC one. 

Before you even get going, you have to realise driving a Tesla is different to other cars. Firstly, there's no key - instead it connects to your smartphone. Then there's the minimalist interior - there are no separate buttons to adjust items such as the mirrors and steering column. Instead, you go to one of the menu screens and use the left-hand dial on the steering wheel. It feels odd at the start, but I'm sure you would quickly get used to it.

On the move, despite the tall body, the Model Y has a low centre of gravity and multi-link rear suspension. As such, this Tesla is great to drive. There is some body roll, but it's a tidy handler with accurate steering. There are three driving modes, which appear to change the sensitivity of the throttle and the weight of the steering. In our opinion though, Comfort makes the steering too light. 

Talking about the throttle response, it's always immediate and a bit of a shock how reactive the Tesla is when first setting out. Equally effective is the re-gen you get when braking - it's quite strong and it would be good to have some adjustment. 

The biggest disappointment is the ride. The Model Y is fitted with 19in rims as standard, but our test car was fitted with the optional 20in versions. The 20s make the ride hard and unyielding, although things get better at speed on the motorway, but on this evidence, we'd say save the cash and choose the smaller rims.

To sum up, the Model Y is an impressive EV, with rivals still seeming to be playing catch up in terms of the performance, range and technology. If you're after a mid-sized SUV and want to make the move to electric, this has to be one of the best options.

Tesla Model Y Long Range 

P11D: £54,935

Residual value: £26,737

Depreciation: £28,198

Fuel: N/A

Service, maintenance and repair: £4,312

Cost per mile: 54.18p

Fuel consumption: N/A

CO2 (BIK %): 0g/km (1%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £9/£18

Luggage capacity: 854 litres

Engine size/power: 434hp with 75kWh battery


  • Spacious interior
  • Range
  • Charging infrastructure
  • Performance
  • Styling may not appeal to all
  • No seven-seat option
  • Hard ride