New 2022 Tesla Model Y review

Nick Francis

08 Nov 2021

1/8
Essentially a larger version of the blockbuster hit Tesla Model 3, the 2022 Tesla Model Y stands to be even more popular thanks to its extra practicality. But is it worth buying over rivals like the BMW iX3 and Audi Q4 e-tron?

YesAuto Score:

87/ 100

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car.

YesAuto’s exhaustive evaluation criteria considers every aspect of a car in terms of how it stacks up against rival models in the same class only. Below are the areas every car is judged and scored out of 10 on, each contributing to an overall score out of 100:

  • Interior quality and design
  • Interior tech
  • Interior space
  • Boot space
  • Engine performance
  • Engine economy
  • Ride and comfort
  • Handling
  • Driving and safety tech
  • Fit for purpose

Electric cars are scored out of 10 in the following areas instead of performance and economy:

  • Battery and motor
  • Range and charging


PROS:

+ Loads of space 

+ Good range and excellent charging 

+ Fast


CONS: 

- Harsh ride 

- Noisy cabin 

- No seven-seat model…yet


Verdict: Like the Tesla Model 3 the Model Y has the makings of a huge hit: it’s fast, fun and very practical. And the build quality is right up there with most of its rivals. It’s not perfect though, the harsh ride and boomy cabin serve as reminders that Tesla does tech better than it does driving refinement. 



2022 Tesla Model Y review: the five-minute read 


A bit like the iPhone, Tesla cars are a marketer’s dream. All the brand has to do is launch a new model, stand back and watch the internet – and its share prices – explode. Tesla cars sell themselves, with a little help from Tesla’s eccentric owner of course. 


The Model Y completes Elon Musk’s cheeky ‘S3XY’ line-up. It sells alongside the Model S, Model 3 and Model X. Of those models it’s closest to the Model 3, in fact Tesla admits it shares 95 per cent of its parts with the small saloon. 


The Model 3 is Britain’s favourite EV and given the Model Y is simply an SUV version of that car it stands to become even more popular - we all know how addicted to high riding cars the UK market is. But it does have competition from other competent electric SUVs like the Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3. 


Its similarity to the Model 3 is immediately obvious. It looks like the Model 3 had an allergic reaction to some shellfish, all puffed-up and bloated. The Model 3 looks sleeker, but as this is an SUV its bulbous dimensions are forgivable.  



The interior is even more Model 3-like. In fact it’s a carbon copy. Just like the Model 3 it’s a huge leap in build quality, Teslas of old have been poorly screwed together and very rattly. If you like minimalism then you’ll love it, the only furniture of any note is the steering wheel and infotainment system.


That infotainment system is a gigantic 15.4-inch landscape-style screen that hosts controls for everything. When we say everything, we mean it – even the windscreen wipers are activated by pressing the screen. There isn’t even a driver display with a speedo, that’s on the infotainment display too. 


The screen is bright and vivid and it is quick to react, but many will find it a distraction, we think Tesla should include a head-up display for the most important information so you don’t have to take your eyes from the road so much.


The cabin is bright and airy thanks to the Model Y’s fully glass roof, which comes as standard. Those in the front have lots of room to spread out, and it’s the same in the back. With no transmission tunnel and just an infotainment screen to eat into space the Model Y is a very spacious car.



In other markets a seven-seat version is available, but as it stands that’s not scheduled for an appearance in the UK. That does mean UK customers will get a huge 854-litre boot that comfortably beats the Audi Q4 e-tron, BMW iX3 and Ford Mustang Mach-E GT.


Just because this is a family-focused SUV doesn’t mean the Model Y comes without Tesla’s famous performance. It’s astonishingly fast in a straight line, launching from 0-60mph in just 4.8 seconds in the Long Range model. A Performance Model coming later in 2022 will be even faster. 


The Long Range model offers 315 miles on a full charge, and all Teslas can take advantage of the company’s Supercharger network, which means 80 per cent of range can be topped up in around half an hour. 


Where the Model Y loses out to rivals is the ride quality. It’s very firm and choppy which can be a pain on Britain’s crumbling road surfaces. The domed glass roof also makes the cabin quite boomy at times, which disturbs the quiet serenity of the powertrain. 


The Model Y has the makings of another Tesla mega-seller: it’s spacious, quick and loaded with tech. It lacks the driving refinement of the Audi and BMW, but we doubt that will be enough to put customers off. 


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Extended read…



2022 Tesla Model Y interior and infotainment


Like the Model 3, the Model Y‘s cabin is designed around minimalism, with just a steering wheel and the infotainment screen interrupting the clean lines of the dash. That’s not to say it looks boring: a line of wood trim breathes some life into the view, as do the chrome touches which break up the panels. 


Early Tesla’s were embarrassingly badly made, the cabins squeaked and creaked and panel gaps of varying sizes made them feel like they had been glued together like an Airfix model. Thankfully that’s no longer the case, everything fits flush, and the materials are all soft to the touch. Because there’s no leather involved the seat upholstery and trim on the steering wheel do feel a little plasticky, but at the same time it feels robust and kid-proof.


The Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3 both feel more premium inside, but those brands have decades of experience in creating great driving environments. Even so, you don’t feel like you have been cheated out of the £55,990 Tesla is asking for the car.


It’s impossible to not be impressed by the 15.4-inch infotainment which is as clear and vivid as it is big. The reaction time to inputs is also great, but because every aspect of the car is controlled via the screen it takes time to get your head around the menus and layout.


Common functions, such as turning on the wipers on and off, are collected at the bottom of the screen for simplicity, but the icons are small and distracting to press on the move. We also don’t like the fact the speedo is on the screen, that seems dangerous. A head-up display would solve this problem, but that’s not something Tesla is offering. 


There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but navigation is taken care of by Google Maps and works brilliantly. And because it’s a Tesla you get the usual computer games built in, as well as a Netflix app to stream videos.


The Model Y comes with some very neat tricks, such as the dog mode which regulates the temperature of the car’s cabin and displays a message to passers-by explaining you’ll be returning soon, via the infotainment screen. 


The screen also shows graphics of objects and other cars around you as you drive, picked up by the Model Y’s bank of sensors and radar panels, which does give you a greater sense of awareness of any hazards. 


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2022 Tesla Model Y practicality and boot space


Front passengers get plenty of space and the effect of having such a pared-back cabin means the feeling of openness is amplified. It’s further helped by the standard glass roof which stretches the length of the car, flooding the inside with natural light. It’s been treated so it does not let heat through and turn the car into a mobile greenhouse on sunny days.


There is plenty of storage up front, including a large cubby between the driver and passenger and decent-sized door bins. You need to press a button on the infotainment screen to open the glovebox though, which is annoying.


The back seats fit three people without trouble. The car is wide but it’s also flat-bottomed, so there’s no bulky transmission tunnel to bother the person in the middle seat. As you might expect, that domed roof means headroom is ample. 


The two outer rear seats have Isofix points for child seats. There’s also a seven-seater version on sale in other markets, but for now Tesla has not said whether it will come to the UK.


The Model Y feels more spacious than the BMW iX3 or Audi Q4 e-tron, but it’s probably more in the mind’s eye, because both of those cars score highly in this regard too.


That said, the Model Y does offer more boot space than its key rivals, with 854 litres from top to bottom. There’s also an extra 117 litres in the ‘frunk’ which is more than enough room to tidy away charging cables.


The back seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, so you can slot in some skis or golf clubs easily.



2022 Tesla Model Y batteries, motors and charging


Both the Long Range and Performance models come with two motors, one on each axle, which means it handles itself well in slippery conditions, especially as there is a low traction driving mode. 


Tesla says the Model Y’s 75kWh battery is good for up to 315 miles and, being a Tesla, we found it to be pretty accurate on the cool October day we drove it. That range is around the same as the Audi Q4 e-tron but a little more than the BMW iX3's 285 miles.


The Performance model’s range is slightly less at 298 miles, and that's because it’s faster: it will do 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds. After driving the Long Range model, which manages it in 4.8 seconds, we struggle to see why anyone would want to pay the extra for the Performance version, it’s still a staggeringly quick SUV.


Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of owning a Tesla is the access you get to its Supercharger network. They’re easy to find and simple to use, unlike many normal charging stations. 


The Model Y support 250kW charging which means it will take around 30 minutes to replenish 80 per cent of range. 


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2022 Tesla Model Y driving


Teslas have always been pieces of tech first, cars second. The same is true of the Model Y which lacks finesse in certain departments, most of all the damping.


The ride is very firm and can get quite wearing on a bad stretch of road. Stiff damping makes more sense on a small, sporty saloon like the Model 3, but the Model Y should be a little calmer as it’s a family SUV.


It’s not awful, but the Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3 both feel more composed and relaxing to drive at sensible speeds. 


The steering on the Model Y is mightily quick, but again that seems a little misplaced on a family car. It’s not as if the steering offers much feedback, although it is well weighted, and because this is a heavy SUV the quick steering can make it feel a bit lurchy when changing direction.


The only other niggle is the boomy cabin, which is caused by the dome roof. With a window even slightly ajar the cabin judders and gets loud. But again, it’s not awful, and something we would happily live with to have all the other great attributes offered by the Model Y. 


The driver gets a great view of the road ahead thanks to the glass-heavy design and raised seating position, and you’re unlikely to get bored of that off-the-line power. Just remember to warn your passengers first.


Both the accelerator and brake pedals are nicely judged. Electric cars tend to have an ‘on or off’ approach to power, but the Model Y’s right pedal modulates the power sweetly, and the brakes are progressive and strong.


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Nick Francis

08 Nov 2021