• Auto123 reviews the 2022 Tesla Model Y Performance.
• For Tesla, performance and engineering count for more than design and amenities.
Auto123 would like to thank the car-sharing company Turo for covering the rental costs for this five-day test drive.
Tesla’s story is well-known by now. The firm came out of nowhere in the mid-2000s and has become a fixture in the EV sector. In fact, it's fair to say that the independent American manufacturer is one of the principal reasons why the industry is where it is on the path to electrification in 2022.
Tesla is not a manufacturer like the others, so getting a Tesla car for a test drive requires a little creativity. Our solution? A car available for temporary rental, which can be for a day, three days, a week or even a month. Turo is active in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, and that’s who we turned to.
As easy as installing an app
To access this world of personal – and shared – vehicles, you first download the application on your smartphone. Turo provides users with parameters such as the distance from your home to the vehicle, the fees associated with each car and the cost of rental for a day, a week or a month.
Once you’ve found the vehicle you want, there are a few additional bits of information you need to enter – availability dates, payment type and other additional options such as the type of insurance you want. Otherwise, your personal auto insurance will take over.
Then, it’s possible to discuss with the owner of the car directly via chat. In my case, the lease gave me a maximum distance of 1,600 km over five days, which was more than enough for me since I had to go to Toronto to test drive another vehicle… that one an ICE model!
Above-average assembly quality
There’s been talk and talk and talk about the mediocre assembly quality of Tesla products. I’d heard that talk. But to my surprise, the 2022 Model Y that I drove looked and felt quite well assembled. I inspected the EV’s body panels and found nothing loose, no noticeable spaces between them, or even major flaws in the charcoal grey paint.
Now, I didn't spend three hours analyzing every little detail of the vehicle's exterior, but my first impression was excellent, for a vehicle with the reputation it has in some corners.
Even the interior didn't leave me disappointed, other than to give me the impression that it lacked spark. Dressed in dark grey or black plastic panels, the interior of the Y is quite monochromatic, if you exclude the woodgrain strip that runs across the dashboard and the front door panels.
Yes, it's true, the glass roof adds a lot of light. But please, Tesla, consider offering other colours for the interiors of your vehicles. The all-white interior may be available as an option, but given our intimate relationship with calcium and slush in winter, I don't think it's a wise choice unless you're friends with a car cleaning specialist.
Some of the plastic panels are on the cheap side, while others, like the felt pad for wireless charging of a smart device, are beautifully made.
For a vehicle that commands a starting price of $90,000 (for this Performance version), I would have liked seats dressed in Alcantara suede or perforated leather, but no, that's not the case on the seats or this 40/20/40 folding rear bench.
That seat doesn't fold completely flat for carrying larger items, by the way. But then, the Model Y is a family vehicle, not a delivery van.
About the ultra-minimalist dashboard, I would like to see a set of traditional controls grafted onto it. But at the risk of repeating myself, Tesla does things differently. Almost everything is controlled via this large touchscreen and a few controls located around the steering wheel. The only other control to remember is on the doors: small buttons replace the traditional handles for opening them.
Hard to overstress the importance of this component; it’s the backbone of the vehicle. And overall, using it was a positive experience. After some trial and error. To cut down on that, I would like to see a set of controls become universal for all car brands. For example, here, when operating the left-hand lever with a few wiper logos on it, you have to watch the screen where, at the bottom left, a menu brings up the different speeds of the system. Not so easy to use.
The shift lever, on the other hand, is installed on the right side of the steering column and is easy to use.
While it’s true that the connection with all the digital functions of the vehicle is quite complex – there are a lot of options and menus – the screen itself is frankly amazing. The graphics are clear, the screen's reactivity is excellent and the choices for personalizing are quasi-infinite. You can actually waste several minutes (or while waiting as the vehicle recharges on the way to Toronto) discovering the four corners of the system.
The trouble is, while the screen is a nice surprise, it doesn't change the fact that an ideal system keeps the driver’s eyes focused on the road. With so many layers to this on-screen system, it's almost required to travel with a passenger who can take care of poking around in the screen while you drive.
Behind the wheel
My expectations were pretty high before getting behind the wheel of this electric crossover. Tesla must de doing a lot of things right to have so many customers, right?
As soon as I hit the road, I understood what appeals to Tesla fans. There’s the silence and smoothness of the ride (on a good road) and the relatively precise steering – thanks to the 21-inch wheels. As well, the Model Y Performance is a monster of acceleration when you want to get on with it.
Still, the vehicle is heavy and the shocks are tuned for smooth road surfaces. As soon as things gets rough, the Model Y shakes and rattles its occupants. Not to the point of making for an unpleasant ride, but next to the newer luxury electric crossovers on the market, the Model Y doesn't offer such a mellow experience.
Those rather stiff suspension adjustments also have an impact on body noise and on some loose panels inside the cabin.
On the other hand, the powertrain, good for 456 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque, gets the job done and then some. Acceleration is lightning-fast, especially in Sport mode, and passing manoeuvres are also very satisfying. Let's just say that overtaking is done in the blink of an eye. I also really appreciated the one-pedal driving, which is very easy to modulate.
Range… and some autonomous driving
As for range, the higher speed of travel on Highway 401 between Montreal and Toronto definitely hurt my energy consumption. I averaged 21.4 kWh/100 km, higher than RnC (Natural Resources Canada) estimates, with a range closer to 390 km (instead of the promised 488 km) due to the many hard accelerations and average speed of 120 km/h.
During this long drive, the Autopilot system was also put to the test. It assists the driver on the highway, but does not take over completely. The system responded quite well, even though it reacted rather abruptly when a truck left its lane. Fortunately, nothing came of that.
The final word… and a hefty expense!
The Tesla Model Y reminds me a bit of the now-defunct Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. That sedan was developed for the rally championship and relied mostly on its incredible drivetrain to seduce motorists, but suffered from a basic cabin. It's the same story here.
Everything that matters in the Y is hidden under the body. The design of the vehicle is unexciting but functional, while the interior is too minimalist for my taste. The performance and all the engineering under the body are, in my opinion, why Tesla is so successful today.
Also, while the supply-chain issues have caused headaches for most automakers over the past two years, that’s less the case with Tesla. Wait times are far less on average than for other brands. And don’t forget the company’s unmatched network of charging stations. Both those factors have clearly compelled numbers of EV buyers to turn to Elon Musk's vehicles.
While the test drive of the Model Y went smoothly, there was a headache-inducing epilogue to it. After the return of the vehicle, the owner informed me there was some (very minor) damage to the car’s right rear rim. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to take detailed pictures of all the rims at the outset, and those images I did have were not clear enough to show that the damage was already present when I took possession of the vehicle. The result: I was on the hook for the $500 deductible on the Turo insurance policy.
The techno aspectThe acceleration
The very responsive touch screen
We like less
The limited rear visibilityThe suspension is too firm
A central screen that draws too much driver attention away from the road
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Keyword: 2022 Tesla Model Y Performance Review: Performance and Engineering Come First