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Tesla Model Y 2023 review: Performance

  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery capacity78kWh (est.)
  • Battery typeLithium-ion (NCM)
  • Range514km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate250kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output366kW (combined est.)
  • Efficiency15.4kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Tesla MODEL Y

This version of Tesla’s Model Y is the new frontier for enthusiasts. How do you make an electric performance car?

It should be easy, right? Just up the power of the motors - no need to fit a larger, more complex engine, and make sure you’ve got a battery with the appropriate outputs.

There’s far more than meets the eye. The big question is, is it worth the significant additional spend over the base Model Y?

We grabbed one of the earliest examples of the Performance to hit Australian shores to find out.

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

This is a far cry from an affordable EV. Forget your MG ZS EVs, BYD Atto 3s and even base Teslas, because the Model Y Performance is in a different league when it comes to price and ability.

To give you an idea, the entry-point Model Y tends to float around $70,000 once you add on-road costs, sometimes slightly more. This Performance version takes a massive hike to nearly $100,000, before on-road costs, and the example we drove for this test totalled $108,031.

The trouble with the Performance version is it’s so expensive it doesn’t qualify for electric car rebates, and in fact attracts luxury car tax instead, pushing the price ever higher.

To add insult to injury, there’s not even a whole lot on the outside of this car to tip you off it costs nearly $40,000 more than the entry-level version, with the main hint being the 21-inch 'Uberturbine' wheels.

On the inside expect the standard Tesla stuff, like synthetic leather interior trim. (Image: Tom White) On the inside expect the standard Tesla stuff, like synthetic leather interior trim. (Image: Tom White)

If you look even more closely you might notice it rides a little lower than the standard car, has bigger brakes, and a little carbon-fibre lip spoiler attached to the tailgate.

Most of the changes are under the skin, including an alternate suspension tune, second motor on the front axle, and a lot of additional power.

Tesla, famously shy about sharing specifics, only gives a 0-100km/h sprint time, which improves from 6.9 to 3.7 seconds for the Performance.

The battery is larger, too, boosting range from 455km on the base Model Y to 514km.

The Model Y features a 117-litre frunk. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y features a 117-litre frunk. (Image: Tom White)

On the inside expect the standard Tesla stuff, like synthetic leather interior trim, the huge 15-inch centre tablet screen with integrated nav and always online connectivity, dual wireless chargers, and a panoramic sunroof.

The whole look and feel is super slick, as always, but is notably missing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Tesla is hoping you’ll use built-in versions of all your favourite apps. Too bad if you use one which isn’t offered.

LED headlights, performance tyres, and a power tailgate add to the gear list, but interestingly there’s no V2L - one key feature still missing from the Tesla brand, and something which adds a slight advantage to its rivals from Kia and Hyundai.

Of course, the software is the biggest sell. As though to prove Tesla is a software company first and a car brand second, the software in this car is by far the best on the market.

The Model Y Performance features LED headlights. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance features LED headlights. (Image: Tom White)

It’s super slick, and offers the most feature packed and functional app. It’s stuff like this which is hard to go back from, and is still keeping Teslas feeling more futuristic than most electric rivals.

It’s worth noting: even at this inflated price, the Model Y Performance still seems like decent value given how quick it is.

The only comparisons, cars like the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, and BMW iX cost more, with the exception of the Kia EV6 GT which is similarly priced and offers similar specs and features.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?

If you’ve seen one Tesla, you’ve pretty much seen them all, with the Model Y Performance doing little to set itself apart from the rest of the range.

It’s all part of Tesla’s minimalist Silicon Valley aesthetic. Like various models of iPhone, the changes between models are meant to be felt and not seen.

The Uberturbine wheels are of course a highlight, really filling the arches compared to the standard hub cab-wearing ones which ship on the standard Model Y, but they are also the only option on the Performance, too bad if you’re not a fan of matt black.

On the inside there are no surprises, either. The same minimalist aesthetic applies, as usual to a fault.

The Model Y Performance does little to set itself apart from the rest of the range. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance does little to set itself apart from the rest of the range. (Image: Tom White)

I feel like I’m sitting in the Apple Store, with just a big floating tablet being the main decoration.

Our car had the wood-look trim option, which is the most preferable option of the two. I found the white plastic fill alternative a bit cheap-feeling during my test of the standard Model Y.

I think the minimalism of the Model Y’s cabin will help it age well, but as I usually complain about these Tesla cabins. There’s no dash cluster or even a head-up display which feels like a bit of a usability blunder. Who wants to look at a centre display for critical information on the car?

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The Model Y feels much bigger than the Model 3 so it will definitely hit the sweet spot for people who wanted a Tesla but found the Model 3 too cramped for a family.

Everywhere feels expanded, especially headroom, and the minimalist design leaves room for big door pockets and the flat floor leaves room for extra large stowage areas under the centre console.

I especially like the way the dual wireless chargers integrate with the design here.

There is ample headroom for occupants of the Model Y Performance. (Image: Tom White) There is ample headroom for occupants of the Model Y Performance. (Image: Tom White)

There are a few hidden hard plastics, but Tesla has put soft-touch and padded surfaces in all the right areas.

The seats are reasonably comfortable, but I’m not sure how the synthetic leather trim will age in the Australian sun particularly as there’s no way to cover the big panoramic sunroof.

Not everyone has a garage. Interestingly though the car does have a cabin overheat protection function, which automatically starts the air conditioning should the cabin exceed a certain temperature.

Still, there are a lot of months in the year our brutal sun will be cooking the interior.

The Model Y's seats offer a reasonable level of comfort. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y's seats offer a reasonable level of comfort. (Image: Tom White)

If you’ve read any of my Tesla reviews before, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of the need to control pretty much all of the car's key functions through the central touchscreen.

It feels like a shame to complain about this, because the software is truly beautiful, and Tesla backs it with powerful computer hardware to keep the screen fast and responsive.

But having no dash cluster feels like a bit of a design-over-usability trait, especially when you go to adjust some of this car’s settings on the fly.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its motor?

Tesla, always mysterious when it comes to hard specs, does not offer official power and torque figures for any of its models. Just the ever-impressive 0-100km/h sprint times.

However, looking at documentation the brand has officially filed in China (where the Model Y for our market is built) reveals specs of 220kW/440Nm for the rear motor, and 137kW/219Nm for the front motor, placing it pretty far up there in the EV performance charts.

It’s not just raw power, either. The Model Y performance also scores a lowered ride, bigger brakes, impressive torque vectoring software to keep everything under control, and interestingly, what Tesla tells us is a new suspension tune (even newer than the set-up we tested when the Model Y first arrived in Australia in late 2022.)

It’s all very impressive-sounding, but does it work? Read on to find out.

The Model Y Performance produces 220kW/440Nm for the rear motor, and 137kW/219Nm for the front motor. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance produces 220kW/440Nm for the rear motor, and 137kW/219Nm for the front motor. (Image: Tom White)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

I’ll just cut to the chase here: Sorry Musk haters, the Model Y Performance is truly, deeply impressive.

I didn’t stopwatch test its 0-100km/h sprint time, but 3.7 seconds certainly feels possible, and totally visceral.

Yes, the Model Y Performance will turn your groceries into a fine paste on the back of the boot if you stick your foot in, but the sprint time is far from the most impressive part of the drive experience.

I’d hand this honour over to the handling. The Model Y is simply incredible at holding onto the road.

Try as I might on one of Sydney’s best and curviest roads, the Model Y simply wouldn’t misbehave.

The Model Y Performance has a 0-100km/h sprint time of a mere 3.7 seconds. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance has a 0-100km/h sprint time of a mere 3.7 seconds. (Image: Tom White)

It’s almost surreal feeling the computers work their magic in the corners, taming the physics of a 2.0-tonne SUV, constantly fighting understeer or oversteer on the fly to keep it all tidy.

It does all of this in silence, with just the tyre roar to indicate your velocity. I must admit. I didn’t expect such ferocious ability from this car.

I certainly expected speed, but not this level of tidiness for something heavier and taller than a Model 3.

The trouble for a traditional car enthusiast, then, is the fact the Model Y is almost too good. It’s clinical in the way it attacks the road, and feels almost unfair, artificial, as though a computer is doing the work for you (it might as well be).

It feels risk-free, drama-free, feedback-free. While the experience of driving such a machine is nothing short of incredible, I somehow think it’s not the kind of thrills combustion enthusiasts are looking for.

The Model Y Performance's ride is notably busy over poor road surfaces. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance's ride is notably busy over poor road surfaces. (Image: Tom White)

Even the steering is artificial, with three heavily computer-assisted modes. I must say, 'Sport' and 'Standard' are a bit too heavy, with my preferred steering mode being the 'Chill' setting, which is the lightest and makes the car feel a bit easier to wrangle in the corners.

The three regen modes will actually appeal to a variety of tastes, allowing the car to behave either like a single-pedal EV (my preferred mode) or more like a combustion car, with a creep mode and a roll mode which will be more familiar to those who haven’t experienced an EV before, or are not fans of regenerative braking.

The new suspension has improved the ride significantly, with the Model Y Performance lacking the brittle edge which I experienced when the Model Y first arrived a few months ago.

It feels like it deals with sudden jolts a bit better, but make no mistake, this is still a firm ride, and the Y still has a firm frame.

While the ride has improved, it is still susceptible to significant amounts of jiggle, with the ride being notably busy over poor road surfaces. Still, it’s good to see this common issue with Teslas starting to move in the right direction.

Efficiency – What is its driving range? What is its charging time? (EV)

The Model Y Performance has an official, WLTP-rated consumption number of 15.4kWh/100km, which grants the car a 514km driving range.

Few EVs manage to get over the 500km range mark, so this fact alone is pretty impressive.

In our testing the car returned a higher figure of 18.7kWh/100km, reducing range to the mid-400s on a full charge.

We only had the car for three days, so I expect, like the standard Model Y, it would be possible to get close to the official number with a longer-term test.

The Model Y Performance has an official, WLTP-rated consumption number of 15.4kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance has an official, WLTP-rated consumption number of 15.4kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White)

When it comes to charging, the Model Y can hit an impressive 250kW on a fast DC charger, allowing a charge time of around half an hour on a compatible unit. Expect more like an hour and a half on a more common 50kW unit.

Meanwhile the slow AC charger will hit a peak of 11kW, allowing the Model Y to charge from 10 per cent in more like seven hours. Still, adding roughly 75km of range an hour is worth it for longer stays at shopping centres or the like.

Interestingly, the Model Y doesn’t offer V2L, that is - the ability to power devices from its charging port. It seems to be one key piece of EV equipment missing from its spec list.

The Model Y can hit an impressive 250kW on a fast DC charger. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y can hit an impressive 250kW on a fast DC charger. (Image: Tom White)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Teslas are very impressive when it comes to safety, with an almost unprecedented number of sensors, and, importantly, great software to process what the car sees.

This is best seen through the radar screen which the car displays alongside the map, which is constantly collecting data on what the car sees around it.

It gives you confidence the car has seen and categorised a potential threat, usually before you have, and if ANCAP’s testing is anything to go by, it works, too.

The Model Y, including this Performance variant, wears a maximum five ANCAP stars, performing extremely well across all categories, with a particularly high score in ‘adult occupant protection’, and ‘Safety Assist’ which considers the abilities of its automatic safety systems.

The Model Y Performance scored a maximum five ANCAP star rating. (Image: Tom White) The Model Y Performance scored a maximum five ANCAP star rating. (Image: Tom White)

While the Model Y’s suite is broader than individual standard active safety items offered by other brands, equivalents of most systems like auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and things like traffic sign recognition are on-board.

Even the adaptive cruise control is one of the best on the market, remarkably good at lane keeping and steering assist, but I’d question whether it’s worth splashing for the controversial 'Full Self Driving' option.

Coming in at more than $10,000, it’s questionable if any of the included software features are even legal to use.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

It’s a good question: What’s it like to own a Tesla. Some of the numbers aren’t promising, like, for example, the four-year and 80,000km warranty promise which is one of the shortest new car warranties on the market right now.

However, Tesla does cover the high voltage battery and drive components for a much longer eight years and 192,000km, guaranteeing 70 per cent of the car’s original battery capacity at that time.

Teslas have condition-based servicing (because, of course they do), meaning the car will tell you when it wants to visit a Tesla workshop based on various inputs. Seems logical, but not very transparent.

Tesla covers the Model Y with four-year and 80,000km warranty. (Image: Tom White) Tesla covers the Model Y with four-year and 80,000km warranty. (Image: Tom White)

  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery capacity78kWh (est.)
  • Battery typeLithium-ion (NCM)
  • Range514km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate250kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output366kW (combined est.)
  • Efficiency15.4kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Tesla MODEL Y

One thing is for sure, it’s definitely a performance car, but not as we know it.

This version of the Tesla Model Y is the ultimate tech gadget on four wheels. It’s incredibly fast, has unbelievable, unnerving handling, and importantly what seems to be the best software in the business. Coming in significantly cheaper than its European performance EV rivals, it doesn’t even seem like bad value.

But. Enthusiasts be warned. There is an element of drama missing here, the Model Y is almost too good at attacking the road, there’s no roaring feedback or imperfections for you to correct, and for this reason alone, even if it’s the future, I don’t think it’s going to be for everyone.

$64,990 - $94,490

Based on 25 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Score

4.3/5
Price Guide

$64,990 - $94,490

Based on 25 car listings in the last 6 months

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.