The Tesla Model Y SUV has landed in Australia, and Drive gets behind the wheel to investigate Tesla’s electric mid-size SUV.
- As efficient as the claim
- Improvements in packaging and quality
- It looks awful
- The hubcaps are a bit naff and no spare wheel
- It needs a more driver-centric speedo or HUD
Is the Tesla Model Y a good car?
The 2022 Tesla Model Y is one of the most hotly anticipated electric cars in Australia.
It’s the first electric medium SUV from the US-based brand, and is similar to its Tesla Model 3 sedan. In fact, the front half of the car is so similar it is easy to mistake the two, with mainly the roof line, tens of millimetres across its key dimensions, and elements of the interior that actually differ.
Although it sounds like marketing fluff, what’s evident is the brand’s packaging improvements with the Model Y, and that it looks to solve some of the woes found with the Model 3.
For the record, Tesla’s sedan is an absolutely fantastic thing, and was a bargain back when the previous government subsidised them for private buyers for less than $60,000 drive-away about 12 months ago, or in July 2021.
For the launch of the 2022 Tesla Model Y, the brand provided us with a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive example to sample – the cheapest of two Model Y variants currently offered in Australia.
It was initially priced from $68,900 before on-road costs and order/delivery fees upon release on June 10 – before a price rise a week later pushed it to $72,300 – with our car’s Deep Blue Metallic paintwork adding another $1500 to its basic list price.
According to Tesla’s price configurator, the Model Y tested here costs $79,456 drive-away in New South Wales, but with an EV stamp duty rebate applied, drops back to $76,576.
A pearl white one costs less as its the only colour offered without an additional premium paint carge. The two other physical options available at this trim level are fancy 20-inch Induction alloy wheels for $2900 (19-inch wheels are standard), and a ‘black and white’ interior – that really means white faux-leather seats – for another $1500. Our press car has neither option.
Although not ‘official’, the brand has submitted data to the Government stating the 2022 Tesla Model Y features 220kW of power. But what’s for sure is a 62.3kWh-sized battery pack with lithium-ion cells, a 0–100km/h time of 6.9 seconds, and a WLTP-certified driving range of 455km.
The only other model in the range is the 2022 Tesla Model Y Performance, which is a dual-motor and all-wheel-drive powerhouse. It costs around $109,000 drive-away and offers a greater driving range of 514km, 393kW, and a feisty 0–100km/h time of 3.7 seconds.
It also costs almost double, so both versions of Tesla Model Y are unlikely to squabble with each other. In reality, who will squabble is us – the punters – who are actively between it, a cheaper 2022 Tesla Model 3, or something else entirely perhaps.
Let’s see if the entry-level 2022 Tesla Model Y cuts the mustard.
What is the Tesla Model Y like inside?
It’s true everything is different with a Tesla, as opening one involves the act simply known as ‘pay-passing’.
That’s waving a credit card over something plastic until it beeps. It’s literally what you do to open a 2022 Tesla Model Y, as you wave its cool credit-card-looking car key over the B-pillar in between its side windows.
Of course, the card is really more of a back-up. Owners can set up their compatible phone to function as the vehicle’s key, with no need to remove it from your pocket or bag on approach.
It continues to work well in a wallet jammed full of NFC-laden bank cards, so neither interference from those nor a thick barrier of Australia’s finest kangaroo leather gets in the way of how it functions. Excellent.
While you’re there, you’ll also notice the clever placement of a camera in the same plastic trim, unlike any other car brand currently on sale. It’s a smart place to put a camera, but also sets the high-tech scene for the interior that’s to come inside.
Which is artful, minimal, and quite beautiful. Other than some ergonomic faux-pas, like a lack of traditional speedo or instrument cluster, it’s pretty special for the money.
There’s a smart upward-facing wireless charging station for two phones that works first time, every time (like a Model 3), a large central storage area with two USB ports, and beautiful timber cladding to its dashboard.
If it looks similar to your friend’s 2022 Tesla Model 3, that’s because it is. From this vantage point, there’s no real difference between the pair, other than a wider array of speakers, which only the keenest trainspotter will notice.
The standard-fit premium audio system – with 13 speakers, one subwoofer, and two amplifiers – is a nice get over the standard system found in the cheaper entry-level 2022 Tesla Model 3, but we’ll talk about its sound system later in the infotainment section.
The only other thing you may notice is that you sit slightly higher. Aside from the seat bases being mounted higher, the roof has been lifted, too, which means headroom with the epic and standard-fit panoramic glass roof is improved over the Model 3.
My biggest and most genuine gripe with the interior are those flatter-than-usual A-pillars that can make visibility trivial at certain intersections. I’m sure you’ll learn to drive around it in time, but there’s no denying other similar-sized vehicles have better visibility.
It’s honestly clutching at straws, though. The simple touch-to-open interior door action, singular air vent on the dash that both looks invisible and flows decently, and overall quality of its build, are top-shelf for the money.
Before we get to the back row, it’s worth noting that all 2022 Tesla Model Ys feature a HEPA air filter, or as the brand likes to attempt to market, “Bioweapon Defense Mode”.
I guess that means my old, now nearly 20-year-old 2004 Nissan Cube with HEPA filter and air ioniser would’ve done the same thing.
In the second row, space is decent for the type of vehicle. I’m 183cm tall and with a rather lanky frame – meaning I sit quite far back in the driver’s seat – found that sitting behind my own seating position in the back yielded good results.
My knees were 3–4cm from the seat backs, feet able to kick out a little in front, shoulders well supported by the upper section of the seat base, and felt genuinely comfortable in the back.
The smart design of the front centre console means the middle passenger not only has a flat floor to indulge in, but can almost stretch their legs out further than the two people in the outbound seats.
Speaking of which, they’re decently bolstered and supportive under your thighs, and the higher hip point will suit those with frail joints, or those who simply prefer better ergonomics. I also fitted a Britax Graphene convertible child seat, and found it easy to load children into given the height of the seat base.
The space offered by the Model Y’s cabin is also good for kids in both forward-facing and rearward-facing child support seats. In either position, both front occupants need not worry about adjusting their seat to allow room for bub’s seat – given there’s now an abundance of space in the back.
I also fitted an Infasecure Rally 2 booster seat – one that has caught out other SUVs with its taller-than-average headrest – finding it fit with ease, meaning slightly older kids are equally well catered for in the back of a 2022 Tesla Model Y.
Three adults can fit across the back seat, but it’ll be a bit squashy if they’re average-sized. Other niceties in the back include rear air vents, two more USB-C ports, large flocked bottle holders in the doors, a fold-down armrest with two cupholders, and that massive glass roof to gaze out of.
Officially, and measuring the whole space including the underfloor storage, the 2022 Tesla Model Y’s boot space is a claimed 854L. Although far greater than other brands on paper, those other brands only measure to the parcel shelf and with proper foam blocks (VDA), so factor that into your comparison.
Either way, it’s large and wide, with a precisely one-metre-wide load aperture enabling an easy fitment of a mid-sized Redsbaby stroller alongside groceries and a handbag. Alternatively, you could easily leave a compact stroller inside the boot permanently, as you’ll never fill the thing alongside it on the day-to-day.
Or you can put it in the underfloor storage, as the most foldable of foldable strollers would fit down there I reckon. If I were to take a guess, I’d say there’s about 550L of storage above the boot floor, and around 300L in the storage tubs underneath the boot floor.
It does make the space feel genuinely massive, and the boot floor partition is a handy thing to have. Another improvement versus older Tesla vehicles is how the seats now fold completely flat, making it handy for moving bulky objects.
Tesla claims 2158L in total with the second-row folded, which is plenty of space for whatever flat-pack thingo you want from the furniture store famous for its meatballs.
A final note is that you can fold the seats remotely from the boot, and there’s sadly no spare wheel under the boot floor.
|2022 Tesla Model Y|
|Boot volume||117L under bonnet
854L seats up
2158L seats folded
How big is the screen in the Tesla Model Y?
Like others in its range, the 2022 Tesla Model Y has one single 15-inch display in the centre of the car.
No gauge cluster, no head-up display, nothing, this screen does everything from making the blinkers play farting noises to telling you how fast you’re going, and even where you are going.
It’s powered by solid hardware, and the touchscreen ‘swipe-y’ tactility and general user-friendliness are up there with the likes of Apple. I love the simple things, like touching the blinker arrow when it’s on to reveal vision of where you’re going.
There are no prompts to do such a thing, but you feel compelled, or at least I did, to tap the blinking icon and see. Another is a simple tap of the battery percentage to turn it into range instead.
That same trick works when you’re buried anywhere in the submenu, too, meaning if you have the range or consumption chart open, the data in there will also adjust as you flick from battery percentage to range remaining.
It’s properly intuitive and clearly had hours of scrutiny to get to this point. Although overwhelming at the start, you learn the simple commands and tricks to make navigation easy enough.
Another reason to opt for the 2022 Tesla Model Y could be its sound system, as it receives the 14-speaker, single subwoofer and dual-amplifier premium system that’s unavailable in the entry-level Model 3.
It’s pretty fantastic, with a soundbar-style array of speakers across its dash providing a big and bright soundstage. Classics like Faith No More’s Album Of The Year sounded huge, with The Last Cup Of Sorrow being intense, bright, and all-in-your-face like it should be.
Canadian Jazz act BadBadNotGood’s album III came across twinkly, ambient, and with clear space between each of the three members in the band. The drum licks are pretty sensational, and are characterised fully and accurately through the cabin as they roll along the dash with clarity and verve.
It has a pretty good EQ to play with natively, too, in the Spotify app, so bonus points there. Speaking of which, there’s no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but everything you want on your phone works natively here, so there’s genuinely no need for it.
Is the Tesla Model Y a safe car?
The 2022 Tesla Model Y does not have an official ANCAP five-star rating. However, both the closely related Tesla Model 3 has a five-star rating from 2019.
Standard safety systems include blind-spot warning, automatic braking, semi-autonomous lane-keeping assist (it is semi-autonomous), adaptive cruise, and speed sign recognition as just the beginning.
Enhanced Autopilot is available as a $5100 option, adding automatic lane changes on freeways, hands-free automatic parking, the Summon feature (which lets the car manoeuvre itself around car parks in certain scenarios), and Navigate on Autopilot, billed as “automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp”.
Tesla’s Full Self Driving can also be added ($10,100) which brings the function of Enhanced Autopilot along with the traffic signal control and the promise of autosteer on city streets coming in a future update.
|2022 Tesla Model Y|
How much is the Tesla Model Y in Australia?
As a refresher, our 2022 Tesla Model Y costs $76,576 drive-away in New South Wales, with its electric vehicle stamp duty rebate applied.
The most obvious contender is the 2022 Tesla Model 3 costing about $7000 less, or around $70,500 in your driveway. Given you receive the better and fantastic sound system, more space in the back and boot, HEPA air filtration system, and improved ergonomics, it feels fairly priced.
However, both of those vehicles are pretty much unavailable in Australia, and have wait times that blow out close to two years in Australia. Availability may be a sticking point, and it’s looking like the 2022 Tesla Model Y will be more readily available than the rest.
|At a glance||2022 Tesla Model Y|
|Warranty||Four years / 80,0000km (vehicle)
Eight years / 16,000km (battery and drive unit)
|Service intervals||Condition based (up to two years)|
|Servicing costs||Not provided|
|Energy cons. (claimed)||13.7kWh/100km|
|Energy cons. (on test)||14.2kWh/100km|
|Battery size||62.3kWh – 455km range (WLTP)|
What is the Tesla Model Y like to drive?
Like the pay-pass methodology to open the 2022 Tesla Model Y, it’s the same way to start one.
Wave your wallet – equipped with a Tesla credit card key – in front of the armrest, wait for the ‘bong’, then throw it in the centre console.
It’s a simple affair and one you get used to really quickly. A quick tap of the column-mounted ‘gearshifter’ is the last thing you do before setting off and quickly noticing that the one-pedal drive system is actually rather intuitive.
That’s an accelerator pedal that brakes the car and captures energy when you lift off, meaning you can effectively drive the car without using the brake pedal next to it.
Every other electric car has this form of energy recovery, with most able to change the amount of braking effort applied as you lift. However, Tesla’s e-pedal is easily the most intuitive I’ve experienced so far, and its single and only setting gets it spot on.
After all, Tesla’s had the time now to get it right. You wouldn’t want to drive it any other way after a few minutes behind the wheel, especially as it harvests energy pretty well too.
The performance from the 220kW single rear electric motor is gutsy, too, with throttle stomps met with strong pulls of acceleration. However, it’s the sustainment of the performance that gives it the edge over its competitors.
Other EVs – like the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 – do not deliver their power in the same way. They first appear quick, with the performance fizzling as the car’s speed increases.
It’s that sustainment behind the 2022 Tesla Model Y that makes it feel far pokier than the figures suggest, as even the entry-level can accelerate in a relentless fashion and spook your passenger.
Not that it matters, but it hopefully gives you an idea of its performance. Ride and handling are great, too, like the Model 3, which is simple and honest.
It’ll tuck into corners nicely, never really feel ‘rear-driven’ or as if it’s going to spit you into the weeds, and the sheer silence of it all means you can focus on how much (or little) work the tyres are doing.
Over a quick jaunt up and down my favourite roads it felt great, if not a little top heavy at times. Around town it’s pleasant, too, but the weight of the thing does mean it needs some firmness to remain controlled.
Over rippled sections of road it’ll get a little busy and bumpy inside, but that’s genuinely as bad as it gets. Another colleague of mine commented on how they liked this “controlled” feeling and didn’t find its stiffness as much of an issue as I did.
We both agreed that taking the 20-inch wheel option would probably push it over the edge for both of us; however, we’ll conduct testing in due time to see whether that’s legitimate or not.
Aside from some firmness over road joins and the odd imperfection, the cabin is a really nice place to soak up miles in. The cabin is well insulated, the funky map display does a good job of keeping you aware of your surroundings, and the steering okay to use.
If anything, the steering is slightly too hyperactive, and is very short lock-to-lock. Coupled with its turning circle of 12.1m, it means tight carparks require some adjustment, but you’ll overcome this in due time.
In terms of efficiency, the car hovered around 20.0kWh/100km during performance testing, later coming down to 14kWh/100km in traffic, then finally culminating at 14.2kWh/100km after some more recuperation and inner-city driving.
You couldn’t write this if you tried, but if we work out 14.2kWh(usage per 100km)/62.3kWh(battery size)*100( for total mileage), you’ll find the number to be 438.7km, give or take 11.3km off the official claim.
For the money it’s hard to fault, but the lack of a speedo in the driver’s line of sight (even a head-up one!) is baffling, as they nailed everything else.
|Key details||2022 Tesla Model Y|
|Engine||Single permanent magnet synchronous electric|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||115kW/t|
|Tow rating||1600kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
Should I buy a Tesla Model Y?
At mid-$70K on the road, it’s obvious why the wait time for a 2022 Tesla Model Y is blowing out over six months. It strikes the balance of range, performance and value, and is then filled full of novelties and new ideas for motoring.
And, for the record, the build-quality difference from this Gigafactory Shanghai-built Tesla Model Y compared to earlier, California-built 2020 Tesla Model 3 press car we had in at Drive is massive.
Everything fits better inside and out, and looks a little nicer. Although, to be completely honest, the driver’s door on our Model Y could’ve fit better. None of that will stop it from being a top-notch family car, though.
And, the $7000 you pay over a 2022 Tesla Model 3 to receive more cabin and boot space, the addition of a brilliant premium audio system, HEPA air filtration system and ‘better’ ergonomics feels fair enough.
Aside from a few objective constraints – like the lack of central speedo – it’s the design that throws me off most, as I think it looks like a marshmallow that’s been stung by a bee.
None of Tesla’s cars are that good-looking, but the Model S has aged quite nicely. If you value design as much as I do, it’s hard to look past the brilliant 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 instead.
Most of you don’t, however, so the 2022 Tesla Model Y is the right choice, and the one you’ll probably make.
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity
After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.