TESLA MODEL Y
Autocar UK|October 20, 2021
Tesla scored a smash hit with the Model 3 compact saloon. Surely an SUV version is certain for even greater success?
MATT PRIOR

TESTED 15.10.21, BERKSHIRE ON SALE EARLY 2022 PRICE £54,990

If you know about the Tesla Model 3, you will already know quite a lot about this, the Model Y. It completes Tesla’s core line-up of S, 3, X, Y models (Ford wouldn’t release the Model E name it owns) and is effectively a crossover version of the junior saloon.

It will understandably cost a few grand more, with UK prices starting at £54,990, and deliveries are due to commence early next year.

It’s bigger than the Model 3 – only by 50mm in length (so it’s 4.75m long) but a full 181mm in height. Just 27mm of that goes into increasing the ground clearance to 167mm, so the body height is stretched by more than 150mm, which should do head room a favour.

How to describe the looks? I won’t dwell too long, because you can make your own mind up, but a videographer colleague described it as looking like a generic car you would nick in the Grand Theft Auto video game that’s sort of meant to look like something else but doesn’t quite do so; or maybe one from an insurance advert where they take a real car and digitally remove its most distinguishable features.

Maybe we’re still getting used to a grille-less future. Among Tesla owners, it turns a few heads, mind.

At launch, there will be two versions, both with two motors and thus four-wheel drive. The slower model is the Long Range tested here. It has a motor on the rear axle and a less powerful motor at the front giving a combined 434bhp, which is good for a 0-62mph time of 5.0sec and a top speed of 133mph. Then there’s the Performance version with a 483bhp total and an exceptionally whizzy 3.7sec 0-62mph time.

Some people might say that you don’t really need a mid-size SUV with that kind of stomach-warping acceleration, and they would probably be right. But the truth is that if you want to regenerate large amounts of power under deceleration (and you will, because that’s quite an efficient thing to do), you need quite a capable motor-generator to do it. So you’re basically getting the acceleration as a by-product of the regeneration capacity.

The acceleration, top speed and indeed range figures for the Model Y are all down a bit over the respective Model 3 variants, which is partly a reflection of the crossover’s increased kerb weight (2003kg) and probably even more its greater frontal area, because aerodynamics are so crucial to a car in motion.

It’s still competitively leggy, though, scoring 315 miles on the WLTP test cycle, which might even turn out to be longer at some point (see box, p25). Tesla doesn’t publish its battery sizes, but word is that this Model Y has around 75kWh of usable capacity out of a total of 79kWh.

It can be charged at rates of up to 250kW by a DC rapid charger and at up to 11kW by an AC one, via a plug port on the rear-left corner.

The battery pack sits low between the wheels, which are suspended by double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, with coil springs and non-adaptive dampers.

Those wheels are 19in in diameter as standard, or you can specify our test car’s rather natty 20in Induction items, shod with 255/40profile Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres.

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