In-depth reviews

Tesla Model Y review - Interior, design and technology

With an exterior look and cabin design that is undeniably Tesla, the Model Y’s real strength is its first-class on-board technology

If you think the Model Y SUV has similar looks to the Model 3 hatchback, you’d be right. Both use the same basic architecture, with the noticeable differences being an increased ride height for the Model Y, along with a taller roof line, a little extra bodywork and black plastic trim in use around the door sills and wheel arches. There has been previous criticism of poor build quality with some Tesla offerings, but our Model Y test car seemed up to scratch in this area.

While the Model Y features more interior space than the Model 3, its bigger dimensions mean that it isn’t able to travel as far on a single charge: 360 miles for the Model 3 Long Range versus 315 miles for the Model Y Long Range version.

The Model Y’s minimalist interior offers no surprises from a design standpoint, with the 15.4-inch central touchscreen taking pride of place in a smart but spartan cabin, where the only physical controls you’ll find are on the multi-function steering wheel, the column stalks and the electric window and door opening buttons.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is included with the Model Y, although most of its functionality is made available via extra payment options. The tech uses a host of cameras and sensors that are able to scan your surroundings and feed information into advanced cruise control programmes, but during our own test we felt that the standard adaptive system worked well enough.

One clever feature of the Model Y is that, as long as you’re logged into your car with the smartphone app, it will unlock and turn on when it detects your phone. A smartcard is also available that unlocks the car when you hold it up to the B-pillar.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Model Y’s 15.4-inch landscape screen is the focal point of the whole car, and once you’ve signed in with the Tesla smartphone app, the system works smoothly and is responsive to your inputs. It’s still a distraction to use while on the move, but Tesla fits a smart voice control system that displays your oral commands on-screen so you can see its accuracy.

The infotainment screen operates everything from the climate controls to adjusting the mirrors and opening the glovebox, although the latter seems a bit fiddly when a button would do an equally good job.

Infotainment is comprehensive, with Spotify music streaming as well as Bluetooth and a DAB radio, while you also have the ability (while parked) to watch YouTube, play games and operate assorted novelty functions in the Toybox. What’s not offered is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but Tesla’s app is so well integrated that it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker.

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