Popular mid-size SUV is NZ’s biggest-selling EV by a huge margin. It quickly becomes very obvious why.

Within a couple of kilometres, the Model Y’s biggest drawbacks become apparent. Ride quality around town is so-so, steering feel is no better, the turning circle is mediocre, and making on-the-move adjustments to things like cabin temperature is a fiddly touchscreen exercise until familiarity kicks in.

Get past these initial misgivings, however, and the Model Y promptly starts to win you over with its generous tech, ample performance, overall comfort and sheer ease of use. And, we might add, it’s fine value; the rear-drive model driven here is priced at $73,000 plus on-roads. Factor in the government’s Clean Car Discount and it’s no wonder sales are buoyant.

Act on the flush-fitting black door handle, open the driver’s door, and you enter one of the most minimalist car interiors around. To say the Model Y interior is a clean and efficient space is some understatement, the only concession to style being the wooden strip across the dashboard.

As you can see, the huge central touchscreen dominates proceedings. It’s 15 inches in diameter and very responsive but some of the most-used buttons, such as those for climate settings, are awkwardly small. In contrast, the graphics and nav maps are terrific.

The higher roofline and ride height means the Model Y is less elegant than Tesla saloons but the Tesla design language is still instantly recognisable. For comparison purposes, the Model 3 roofline sits about 180mm lower. Three-quarters of Model 3 components are shared with the Y.

Performance is brisk with the 0-100km/h sprint knocked off in 6.9 seconds. Acceleration is also as smooth, quiet and undramatic as you would hope. On the regen front, the choice is between Creep, Roll and Hold, and we chose the latter as our default setting and typically enjoyed one-pedal driving as a result.

Practicality is genuinely hard to fault. For a car with a modest footprint and overall length of 4.75m, you get an awful lot of easily-accessible cabin space and outstanding load space beneath the rear hatch and even under the bonnet. The ride height will appeal to existing SUV drivers and the driving position and outward visibility are excellent, with things further improved by electric seat adjustments, well positioned cameras and various driver-assistance features, including a degree of standard automated driving. The bottom line is you can expect to become instantly comfortable at the wheel.

And then there’s the added practicality of a healthy range (it’s rated at 455km on the WLTP scale) and the immense value of Tesla’s Supercharger network for those who intend to regularly head far from home.

This car is so effective that any shortage of character and refinement fail to seriously dent its appeal. After a few days in the Model Y, it had won us over for its ability to perform day-to-day duties with boundless efficiency.




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