Tesla Model Y – A UK Owners Review

Tesla Model Y Review - Belfast

After nearly two and a half years of ownership, I sold my Model 3 last Autumn, taking advantage of the incredibly strong used prices. The rumour was the Model Y would go on sale in summer 2022 and I reckoned I could hold out until then.

The Buying Process

Then on 15th October, exactly one week later, reservations for the Y surprisingly opened in the UK and I put down my £100 for a place in the queue. Orders then went live on 7th January 2022 and I had completed the check-out within the first 20 minutes, with an estimated delivery window of February 18 – March 04.

I originally paid £1,500 for the Pearl White Multi-Coat paint option on the Model 3 (before it became free) and it’s still my favourite colour, especially now they come with black trim as standard, instead of chrome. After a few weeks of head scratching I decided to add the white interior too, knowing that this would push back my delivery date. I did this by telephone on 24th January and later received an email confirmation of the new spec and a new estimated delivery window, now March 09 – March 23. Apart from the white interior, the only other option I picked was the 20’’ Induction wheels (with their 255/40R20 XL Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres). I had bought black turbine replicas for the Model 3 so again this was pretty much the perfect look for me, but now totally OEM. The options for Enhanced Autopilot (£3,400) and Full Self Driving (£6,800) still seem like poor value in the UK and not something I considered. I took delivery on 16th March from the Belfast Service Centre.

Changes From the Model 3

With so many similarities, much of my Model 3 Mega Review is relevant to the Y, with a few notable exceptions. The most important one for me, and the main reason for changing to the Y is that raised seating position which means it’s much easier to get in and out of (#OldGit). There’s more room inside too, especially for rear passengers who have more support under their knees and can get their feet right under the seats in front of them now. The rear seat backrests have a couple of rake settings too. There’s a deeper bootwell and frunk, a huge boot and of course that hatchback practicality. 40/20/40 rear seat split means you can carry 4 adults and still through load your Ikea box. Size wise, it’s around 5 cm longer, 5 cm wider and 18 cm taller than the Model 3. Its dimensions are quite close to the BMW X4 as a comparison. More use of aluminium in the chassis with its mega casting means the Y’s 1,979 kg weight is just 149 kg more than the equivalent LR Model 3. While there’s a lot of talk about how heavy EVs are, the Y is actually lighter than many comparable internal combustion vehicles (like that X4 at 1,995 kg) with all the advantages of the clever Tesla packaging and far lower centre of gravity.

The car can tow up to 1,600 kg with the optional Model Y Tow Package (£1,090) which can be installed at a service centre anytime after purchase. Front mud flaps are now included, although I replaced these weirdly skinny items with this molded set of 4. There are 2 PPF (paint protection film) panels in front of the rear wheels to protect the flared bodywork from stone chips. There’s new darker rear glass, and Bioweapon Defence Mode with its HEPA filtration system is included on the Y too.

General Updates

The Long Range version is currently the entry level Y in the UK as Tesla are not offering a RWD model, nor the 2.0 car that’s being built in Texas. There’s no word on a 7 seat version yet in the UK. A new Lithium-ion low voltage battery replaces the lead-acid 12v, which is often a failure point on EVs (this change also saves around 10 kgs).

There are other updates that are new to me, but are now fitted on the Model 3 too. First the Y is noticeably quieter inside with its front and rear side windows, now made from laminated acoustic glass (aka, double glazing) and noticeably better rubber door seals too.

While the screen was never laggy in the old car, the new AMD Ryzen processor powering the infotainment system loads apps like Netflix much faster. The brakes seem to have had a good update too with large 14″ ventilated front discs with 4 piston callipers.

The plastic scroll wheels on the steering wheel have been replaced with metal versions and this car has a heated steering wheel, and all 5 seats are heated too, as is the area the wipers park on for easy release in freezing conditions. There’s an electric tailgate too.

The Y has 13 speakers plus a subwoofer in the boot and it’s particularly suited to the electronic music I love (give these a try – Yazoo, deadmau5, Röyksopp, London Grammar). Definitely some of the best sounds I’ve had in any car.

Things That Could Be Improved

It seems to be an emerging trend to omit the rear wiper on new hatchbacks (the Kia EV6 and Hyundai IONIQ 5 for example). It’s the same on the Y and while that’s mostly OK at speed, it’s not great around town when water can settle on the screen. The beam that ran across the glass roof in the Model 3 in the middle of the cabin, has been moved back above the rear seat headrests instead on the Y. This gives a pleasingly uninterrupted single sheet glass roof in the passenger cabin, but it also has the effect of narrowing the view out of the back window. The dark tinted glass and auto-dimming rear mirror reduces visibility at night even further (although this can be disabled in settings). You can display the view from the excellent rear camera while driving if you like and it appears automatically when reversing.

Even though there are Matrix headlights fitted, their smart features are currently not functional. Hopefully this will be remedied with a software update soon.

Tesla is finding it hard to shake its bad build quality rep, and lazy youtube reviews continue to mention panel gap issues where there are none. This MIC (made in China) car’s bodywork is better than my 2019 Californian built Model 3. Saying that though Tesla does still need to keep working on quality, the rear headrest rattle that seems to be a feature on the Y is pretty awful for a new car of this price (I’m waiting for a service visit to sort this on my car). While it has improved, the automatic wiper setting still isn’t a match for every other car on the planet and the phantom braking issues I had in 2019 are still there.

The 2 trays inside the centre console that were included in my base spec Model 3 now need to be purchased from the Tesla store (£18), which seems pretty mean. It’s especially hard to understand this as pretty much everything else is included as standard in the car. Have a look at many other competing EVs and you’ll find a 4-figure option just to add a heat pump for example. Tesla’s recent announcement that they are removing the UMC is also a bad decision. The lack of a parcel shelf on the current UK deliveries is poor too, especially as they are present on Hong Kong cars, coming out of the same Shanghai plant.

Tesla has always led on the tech side of things, so for me, not having any bi-directional capabilities for V2L (Vehicle-to-Load) is the single most glaring omission on the Y.

Handling & Ride

I’ve watched and read so many reviews of the Y and the suspension almost always comes in for harsh criticism. Many Y’s seem to have been shipped with their tyres inflated to around 50 psi instead of the required 42 psi (mine included), which doesn’t help.

At the original launch event in 2019, Elon Musk promised the Model Y would have “the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car”. It’s no surprise then that the car is firm, which provides the body control to match the performance. However, on a bad road it can feel a bit too stiff. It also suffers from an internal boominess on some roads, particularly rippled surfaces, like you find on junctions or bad corners treated with Shell Grip or similar. I had an extended test drive with a Y on the standard 19 inch wheels and there was little to no difference between it and the 20s. Things get worse the slower you go so it is particularly pronounced when on urban roads with a bad surface. On most journeys then the Y feels great, but on a bad surface the ride can feel unsophisticated.

If you prefer a soft-roader there are plenty of competitors out there in this hotly contested sector, like the Audi Q4 e-Tron, BMW iX3, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Mercedes EQA / EQB, Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID.4.

Things I Love

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to drive some of those EVs over the last 6 months. So why didn’t I buy one of the alternatives this time? I’ve tried to tease out the reasons behind that decision with a list of the things below that have led me to purchase another Tesla over any other brand. In no particular order…

  • The Tesla App – Your pocket interface to a Tesla is still unrivalled in the industry and just gets better and better. As I type this, last night’s OTA update has added the ability for the app to control Camp Mode and Dog Mode for example.
  • The Supercharger Network – It will be no surprise that this is on my list. Tesla says the Model Y can add “up to 150 miles of range in just 15 minutes” using their v3 CCS Superchargers. I have used SC sites in Ireland, Scotland and England and they make travelling long distances fast and stress free (I have over 20,000 free Supercharger miles (from referrals) less than a year away from expiring, so it’s pretty disappointing that Northern Ireland still doesn’t have a SC single site yet).
  • The Navigation – While the nav does sometimes plot the odd weird route, in general it is a great system. Little things like swiping down on the text input box to automatically guide you home are great. As is the ability to get to places easily with the voice control – “navigate to Portrush”. The system automatically routes you to your destination via a public charger if required and the recent updates have added details for the ESB network in Ireland. The system’s estimates for battery level on arrival are incredibly accurate too.
  • The Traction – Traction on my RWD Model 3 was already impressive, but it’s completely otherworldly on this Dual Motor car. Tesla’s AWD system with its digital torque control means that even giving it full beans away from a notoriously greasy crossroad near me, in the driving rain, does not give a hint of wheel-spin, or that feeling when a car is cutting the power either. You have to experience it to appreciate it. I found traction was a particular weak spot on some of the other EVs I’ve tested lately and this feels like another area where Tesla are ahead of the pack.
  • The Performance & Handling – There’s a lot of horse manure talked about ‘soulless EVs’. If you enjoy your driving the Y does not disappoint. The acceleration is fantastic and that incredible traction already mentioned, along with great body control all bring plenty of smiles. Tesla quotes a 0-60mph time of 4.8 seconds for the LR Y, although this is with the “first foot of rollout subtracted” jiggery-pokery so probably more like 5 seconds. You can purchase an OTA software update to bring that down to 4.3 if you feel the need.
  • The Fast Steering – Although still quite numb, the Y has the same fast steering as the Model 3 (2 turns lock to lock) which makes it fun on the twisty bits. After a week or so of driving a 3 or Y, other cars feel very lazy in the corners by comparison.
  • The Efficiency, Regen & Range – The WLTP range figure for the LR Y on 20’s is 331 miles (351 with the standard wheels). The EV Database currently shows a real world range of 270 miles. My first 1,096 miles in the car (in temperatures as low as freezing) have averaged over 3.7 miles / kWh. A recent weekend trip away covered just over 400 miles (~70% on motorway) and returned almost exactly 4 miles / kWh. So with a usable battery of around 76 kWh and some sensible driving I’m confident I could eke out 300 miles in the summer. That’s Belfast to Cork with miles to spare. The regen in particular is excellent, providing one-pedal driving that very controllably brings the car to a complete stop (using the Hold setting).
  • The Dashcam & Sentry Mode – The built-in dashcam system is terrific, using 4 cameras around the car to record to the USB drive in the glovebox. In Sentry Mode it’s watching and recording your surroundings while parked and you can also now stream live from your car too with the premium connectivity option (£10/Month).
  • The Space & Visibility – The view out the front of the Y (and Model 3) is 8K ultra widescreen thanks to the low dashboard and lack of binnacle behind the steering wheel. Space wise, Tesla’s brilliant packaging means useful frunk space and deep wells under the boot floor too – for an enormous 2158 litres total space with the rear seats down.
  • The Ecosystem – If you love a spreadsheet (who doesn’t), then you’ll enjoy the data services like TeslaFi that pull info from the car. I love all the information that’s available, especially around efficiency which helps hone your driving style.
  • The Unique Styling – Some people can’t warm to the styling, perhaps it’s too different from conventional vehicles and they prefer to see familiar things like false grilles. But the unmistakably contemporary form that contributes to efficiency (drag coefficient of 0.23 Cd) means the Tesla is instantly recognisable on the road (especially by excited 7 year olds it seems).
  • The Autopilot – Tesla’s self-driving tech, when used in the right place, is a fantastic feature. While it’s far from faultless, and can be darn right frustrating at times, on a motorway or dual-carriage way it is a real asset.
  • The Voice Control – Voice control has gotten better and better over the last few years and is now a partial answer to the undoubted distraction of having to use a touchscreen for some controls. “Set temperature to 21 degrees”, “Turn on drivers heated seat”, “Set wipers to speed 3” etc.
  • The Scroll Wheels – I love the adjustability of the cruise control with the scroll wheel on the steering wheel. The slow roll for 1 mph increments and the fast flick to add or subtract at 5 mph at a time is great, as is clicking left and right to adjust the distance to the car in front. With media controls on the other side, it’s everything I need from this clean setup and makes the button festooned steering wheel of some competitors feel like something from the steam age.
  • The Fun Stuff – I can take or leave a lot of the gimmicks, but having Netflix and YouTube on the big screen with the great sound system is brilliant. There’s never a boring wait in the car.

  • The Controls – Walk up with your phone in your pocket and the car unlocks automatically, get in and press the brake pedal to turn it on. Walk away and it locks behind you. Simple and right (I got out of the Leaf and left it on and unlocked so many times over the last few months).
  • The Gear Selector – For me, Tesla’s stalk is the best way to control the drive selector. It’s right at your fingers by the steering wheel and it keeps the centre console clear. Also, unlike some other EVs I’ve driven lately, the Tesla allows you to change between drive and reverse while still rolling (slowly) too. It’s the little things.
  • The Little Things – Other little design touches that I’ve not seen done as well in other cars include the dual Wireless Phone Charging pads and parking sensors that show distance to the obstacle.
  • The OTA Updates – New features like Camping, Dog and Sentry mode, Blind spot monitoring and Disney+ have all been added to the cars with Over The Air updates. Every new software version comes with a little excitement.
  • The Infotainment System – This system is peerless. It’s a well used metaphor, but the move from a conventional car to a Tesla feels like a move from a Nokia to an iPhone. (here’s a comprehensive walk through of the v11 software).
  • The Minimalist Interior – After around 30 months of 3 and Y, other cabins feel very 20th Century. Just like the infotainment system, the interior design feels like a generation ahead of everything else I’ve driven.
  • The Safety – Tesla’s are extremely well designed with safety in mind and crash performance comes before all else (check out this video).
  • The Residuals – While nothing is certain (especially in the times we are living in), if the Y’s residuals are anything like as strong as my Model 3, then the total cost of ownership could be incredibly low.

Early Verdict

Cars (not just EVs) are too expensive, with chip shortages and world events seeing prices go up instead of down. However, running costs remain incredibly low. The current over-night electricity rate of around £0.12 means, if you can charge at home, the total fuel costs for an 8,000 mile year is just £260 – little more than a couple of fills of some ICE vehicles. Road tax remains free and I’m expecting my maintenance on the Model Y to be the same as the Model 3 – filling the washer bottle. The general warranty covers the car for 4 years or 50,000 miles with the battery and drive unit guaranteed for 8 years or 120,000 miles.

After the first 1,100 miles this Tesla can unsurprisingly be summed up as a roomier Model 3 with that higher driving position I wanted. The Model Y provides fantastic range, efficiency, performance, equipment and tech in an immensely practical package, all backed with that Supercharger safety net that I know from experience means I can easily drive anywhere I want on these islands, or beyond.

(thanks to reinisb.co.uk for these photo)

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Tesla Model Y Long Range – Features

Audio and Media

  1. Premium audio – 13 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps, and immersive sound
  2. Music and media over Bluetooth
  3. USB-A port in the glovebox with a 128GB portable storage device included


  1. Power adjustable front seats
  2. Heated front and rear seats
  3. Heated steering wheel
  4. HEPA air filtration system
  5. Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  6. Independent flat-fold rear seats
  7. Interior floor mats


  1. LED fog lamps
  2. Power folding, auto-dimming, heated side mirrors
  3. Custom driver profiles
  4. Center console with storage, 4 USB-C ports and wireless charging for 2 smartphones

Premium Connectivity, 30 days complimentary

  1. Live traffic visualisation
  2. Satellite-View Maps
  3. Video Streaming, allowing access to content from Netflix, Youtube, Twitch, and more
  4. Caraoke
  5. Music Streaming
  6. Internet Browser

Last update on 2024-04-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1 Comment on "Tesla Model Y – A UK Owners Review"

  1. Great Photos of Belfast Central – Looks great

    A Tesla is a pipe dream for us lot in Co Tyrone – still, maybe I can swing a ASHP, maybe.

    Build just got watertight, money evaporating.

    Great Review, Y looks the job.

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