Tesla Model Y test: driving the most family-friendly Tesla

In a few months, the Model Y sold in Europe will come out of the new Tesla factory in Berlin (Germany). But for now the copies delivered in France come from the brand’s Chinese Gigafactory. This allows Elon Musk’s new SUV to benefit from a higher quality of assembly than what we can see on board cars built in the United States, even if the level of finish and the materials used remain out of step with the asking price.

A more expensive Model 3

The Model Y is an SUV that pushes all the cursors of a Model 3 a little further, the sedan from which it takes the technical underside. It is longer by 6 cm (4.75 m), wider by 7 cm (1.92 m) but also higher by 18 cm (1.62 m). Its entry-level currently consists of the motors and batteries of the Model 3 “Long Range” version. Thanks to its energy reserve of 74 kWh, the Model Y claims a WLTP-approved autonomy of 507 km with 20-inch rims (present on our test model), and 538 km in 19 inches (the standard fit). That’s good for a car with two engines and four-wheel drive.

Very livable and benefiting from a trunk with a record volume, this family Tesla is displayed from 59,990 €. This is €7,000 more than the Model 3 with equivalent technology, but this price still allows it to benefit from a €2,000 bonus, provided that no option is taken out. Because if the price exceeds €60,000, the bonus disappears…

Tesla influences his followers

By buying a car from the brand, the user is invited to adopt other habits. For example, he no longer has a physical key but a bank-sized card that gives him access to his car. He will quickly forget it because it is above all a smartphone application which will be the entry point for a large number of functionalities, and the card will only be used in the event of troubleshooting (and therefore forgetting the phone or missing battery). The Model Y doesn’t even have a start button. Just get on board and drive.

But choosing Tesla also means facing some constraints. For example, the Model Y does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, features that are common among the competition. Nevertheless, its infotainment system integrates Google Maps, which is displayed large on the central screen. It is then possible to send an address there via the Tesla application, then the navigation will activate when you arrive on board. On the music side, the Model Y integrates Spotify, but neither Deezer nor Apple Music, which it refuses to display on its screen. The disappointed driver can then console himself with the open fire mode or, more essential, the “whoopee cushion” function which will surely brighten up his outings with friends.

In general, Tesla owners still benefit from the most innovative features in automotive computing. As such, they then discover interesting alternatives to “general public” solutions, but they sometimes serve as guinea pigs to finalize the development of said technologies.

Control everything at your fingertips

The large 15-inch (38 cm) touch-sensitive center is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the car. Without it you can do almost nothing, not even open the glove compartment… On the other hand, its operating system is very fluid, ergonomic, pleasant to handle and offers shortcuts that make life easier. For example, it can take you home or to work with just a flick of your finger on Favorites. Like all Teslas, the Model Y SUV is above all a computer, which becomes easy to use in an automotive context once it is properly configured and you have understood its universe.

In addition, the use of the car is interesting. Let’s move on to the very good performance (0 to 100 km/h in 5 s), and the very good handling of this imposing vehicle. It is certainly a little less agile than the Model 3 given its height, makes its weight felt (two tonnes, including more than 500 kg of battery), but offers a good level of comfort and a lot of driving pleasure. On board, the driver can discover a range of functions, although he does not have much to manipulate in this refined universe: only a turn signal commodo, and another that serves as a gear lever. Everything else happens on the steering wheel (such as adjusting the mirrors) but above all on the screen.

You also have to get used to the fact that the Model Y does not have an instrument cluster. The driver has nothing to put under his eyes, and no head-up display either. It is therefore necessary to take your eyes off the road to access the functions grouped together in this large digital slab, which is done quite easily.

Autopilot and one-pedal driving

Another hallmark of Tesla is the autonomous nature of its cars. A device that the Model Y offers in three levels: the standard Autopilot includes adaptive cruise control and active centering. The improved Autopilot (€3,800) adds assistance when inserting or changing lanes. Just turn on the turn signal and the car takes care of the rest. This does not dispense with keeping your hands on the steering wheel, but the maneuver is done in complete safety. This device also helps with parking maneuvers and can even move the car forwards or backwards on its own. For €7,500 (or €3,700 more than the improved Autopilot), the doors of fully autonomous driving are available to you. But given the still restrictive regulations in Europe, it is better to avoid this expensive and inappropriate option, and take advantage of what the car can do best.

It will then be a question of experimenting with the new “tightening” mode, which makes it possible to drive in the vast majority of cases with a single pedal (an engine brake controlled until the stop) or even to watch Netflix while warm while the car is charging.

No range anxiety

It should also be noted that the application, the car and its dedicated charging network form a triptych that allows you to take full advantage of your Tesla, especially during long journeys. The car receives a route planner that takes into account the charge level and itself selects which superchargers to use to cover the route. It is even possible to know what sockets and power are available before arriving at a station, and to estimate the downtime. On site, once plugged in, the car is recognized and charging starts automatically. There is nothing to do and the cost will be debited at the end of the month from the owner’s account. On this chapter, no one can do as well.

During our test, we recorded an average of 21.3 kWh / 100 km, an excellent score, despite generous driving but on rather flat roads, in northern Denmark. At no time was range a question, because subconsciously we knew that Tesla was among the best when it came to battery and charging network. This is also why the American manufacturer is today one of the references in the sector, having worked at the same time on car software and the deployment of its charging network. A job that the historic car manufacturers have still not been able to implement, while the offer is exploding and the infrastructure is lacking.

Verdict

The Model Y is certainly one of the most successful Teslas, and the one that is best suited to families. Good autonomy, excellent habitability, proven driving pleasure, it ticks all the boxes of the trendy family SUV. But it remains expensive and its quality of construction, especially its finish, places it far from the German references. This will certainly not prevent him from embracing the excellent career that seems to be offered to him.

Technical sheet

Engine

Type: two electric motors, asynchronous
Position: on each axle
Power: 215 hp front, 300 hp rear
Torque: 240 Nm front, 350 Nm rear

Transmission

Mode: four-wheel
Gearbox: single gear
Towing capacity: 1,600 kg

Frame

Type: aluminum monohull
Front braking: ventilated discs
Rear braking: ventilated discs
Front suspensions: pseudo McPherson
Rear suspension: multi-link
Steering: electric

Dimensions

Length / Width / Height: 4.75/1.92/1.62 m
Wheelbase: 2.60m
Front/rear tracks: 1,589/1,606 mm
Tyres: 245X45R18 (front); 255x45R18 (rear)
Boot volume: 854 l rear; 117 l front

Performance

Top speed: 217 km/h
0-100km/h: 5s
Mixed consumption (WLTP): 16.9 kWh/100 km
Battery capacity: 74 kWh
WLTP autonomy: 538 km in 19 inches, 507 km in 20 inches
Charging time: 30 minutes from 0 to 80% on 250 kW terminal, 6h45 on 11 kW wallbox

Weight

Empty: 2,003 kg

Price

From €59,990
Bonus: €2,000

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