Tesla Model Y: First Look at the SUV With a Dash of Sports-Car Elegance

Elon Musk may be fathering more offspring than rabbits and gearing up for a brash legal battle with Twitter, but even amid the mess, one thing remains true – the quality of Tesla’s EVs is undeniable. Joining the pack is Model Y, Tesla’s second import to Singapore. From the start of August, you’ll be able to get your hands on the snazzy bigger sibling of Model 3.

It’s justified that Model Y is simply a bloated version of the Model 3 sedan. Most features are similar; it’s just that the latest car has an expanded cargo size of 2158L to appeal to the SUV-inclined public. Perhaps Tesla wants to ride on the success of Model 3, but more innovation is needed to make Model Y distinct from its earlier counterpart. 

Chic Finish 

Nevertheless, it is an attractive option for those seeking SUV functionality but are turned off by the rugged look of Toyota RAV4s or Honda CRVs. Model Y’s frameless windows, minimalistic panelling and lack of an imposing front grille lend it an air of sophistication that faintly resembles sports cars. Typical of a Tesla car, the panoramic glass roof also gives an uncluttered atmosphere, allowing riders to fully appreciate views of Singapore’s cityscape. It is deeply tinted, however, to keep out the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

Two Versions of Model Y
Choose different coloured finishes for a personalised touch

Tesla has produced two variations of the Model Y. The first is the entry-level rear-wheel drive, while drivers hoping for even better control over their vehicle can look at the Performance car, which includes a dual motor all-wheel drive. There are slight variations in other features too – you can zip across the tarmac at a top speed of 250km/h for the Performance model, but the regular model’s maximum is only 217km/h.

Both options come with five colour finishes to choose from – pearl white, midnight silver metallic, deep blue metallic, solid black and finally, red. The last three coats have additional charges, though. Red requires a steep top-up of $3,000, while silver and blue demand you to fork out another $1,500. As for the wheels, you can go up to 21” for the Performance, while 19” and 20” wheels are the standard for the basic Model Y. 

Getting Under the Skin

One of the most unique elements of Model Y – and Tesla cars – is the large touchscreen display resembling an iPad fixed onto the dashboard’s centre. This means that manual functions like buttons and the speedometer are represented virtually instead. Live traffic simulations on the screen, which show any road bends or obstacles, are also helpful features.  Unfortunately, a downside of this design is that drivers have to crane their necks sideways to check the display, which might take some time to grow accustomed to. 

Interior of Tesla Model Y
Plush seats, a large digital display and a transparent roof – everything you need for a luxurious ride

The rock-solid entertainment options do help to mitigate that flaw somewhat. YouTube, Spotify and Netflix are embedded to kill time while waiting for the SUV to be recharged. These apps – of course – can only be used when stationary. Thinking of road trip parties? With 13 speakers, one subwoofer, and two amps, the immersive sound system is ideal for karaoke on the go. Oh yeah, you can play around with the voice-activated controls too. 

Now, on to the point about getting your car juiced. In Singapore, EVs are not exactly mainstream, and with Tesla only setting up operations here last year, there are only eight supercharging stations at present. Not to mention, they are mainly clustered in the central area, so those living in the west or up north are disadvantaged. In spite of that, the company has tried its best to make charging as efficient as possible; after all, it only takes 15-20 minutes for an 80% charge. 

But sitting down for long rides won’t be a problem. Model Y’s five seats have generous legroom, and you can recline them with an automatic button. If you need more storage space for a holiday across the Causeway, just fold down the rear seats and drop items into an extra compartment beneath the cargo floor. 

On a Roll

Tesla’s safety features are known for their excellence, as evidenced by Model Y’s 5-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a US government agency. Something that stands out is the automatic braking system – when a pedestrian is detected or if you intend to slow down to a stop, the SUV will eliminate the risk of any human error. You can also switch to a semi-autonomous driving mode with adaptive cruise control. 

Eunice Inside Model Y
Your humble writer pretending to be a Tesla owner

 As for the driving experience, some car experts have feedback that it can get rather bumpy. In test drives, Paul Maric of CarExpert, a popular Australian YouTube channel, and Mat Watson of carwow both said that Model Y’s suspension is quite firm, which causes passengers to feel road imperfections very keenly. According to them, it might be a big dealbreaker, so you might want to take that into consideration (with a pinch of salt, of course).

The Performance delivers a magnificent acceleration, going from 0 – 100km/h in 3.7s, while the standard version falls a little behind at 6.9s. When it comes to range, each battery charge lasts for 514km for the Performance and 455km for the latter. So really, it depends on how much you’re willing to splash on a more advanced car.

Quick Facts

  • What: Tesla Model Y (Rear-Wheel Drive) and Model Y Performance (Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive)
  • Size: Midsized SUV
  • Space: 2158L trunk space
  • Orders: On sale now, deliveries estimated by late 2022
  • Price (with EV incentive and exclusive of COE): SG$142,271 for Model Y, SG$189,995 for Model Y Performance
  • Range (WLTP): 455km for Model Y, 514km for Model Y Performance
  • Speed: Max 217km/h on Model Y, 250km/h on Performance
  • Acceleration (0-100km/h): 6.9s on Model Y, 3.7s on Performance
  • Seats: 5
  • Wheels: 19’’ and 20’’ on Model Y, 21” on Performance
  • Warranty: 
    • Model Y (RWD)
      • Basic Vehicle – 4 years or 80,000km, whichever comes first
      • Battery & Drive Unit – 8 years or 160,000km, whichever comes first
    • Model Y (Performace)
      • Basic Vehicle – 4 years or 80,000km, whichever comes first
      • Battery & Drive Unit – 8 years or 192,000km, whichever comes first

Learn more about Model Y here. You can also head down to Tesla’s showcase at ION Orchard L1 Atrium from now till 24 July (10am to 10pm) for a better feel of the car. 

Photos by Sunny Low of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Tesla.

Eunice Sng

Loves trying out new flavoured drinks and discovering the latest cultural events. Dyed her hair a thousand different colours in the last two years and should perhaps stop before all the strands fall out. Is also probably sleep-deprived.

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