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Tesla Model Y: Performance, range, tech, prices and release date

Arguably the brand that has done the most for the profile of EVs is Tesla. For many people Tesla is almost a byword for 'electric car', and the brand has had pretty significant success in recent years, led by the Model S and followed-up with the Model X and Model 3. The Model Y sits between the latter two in the line-up, but what can we expect from it?

Following on from the phenomenally successful Model 3, the Model Y is going to take on the mantle for what is officially the second most valuable carmaker in the world. Valued at over $100bn – a first for a US-based manufacturer – only Toyota is now worth more money.

The Model Y is built broadly on the same underpinnings as the Model 3 – Tesla's third generation platform. It takes the form of a crossover so, like the large crossover Model X shares a platform, powertrain and much of its tech with the Model S, the smaller crossover Model Y shares its innards with the Model 3. Well, 75 per cent of them anyway, according to Tesla boss Elon Musk. 

Confusing? Just think of it as an inflated Model 3 and you're basically there. Anyway, let's get into the details. 

Powertrain and performance

As it stands, we're looking at four versions of the Model Y, each of which fulfils a niche, offers different range, and provides a pricing structure. However, our understanding is that (like with previous Teslas) the brand will launch three of the higher-end variants in the autumn, with the fourth 'base spec' car coming in early 2021.

Starting at the bottom is the car we'll have to wait longest for – the Standard Range RWD. Whilst we don't know the exact specs of the single motor powering the rear axle only, it's going to offer plenty of poke. The 0-60mph sprint takes 5.9 seconds and the top speed is 120mph. The car's estimated WLTP range is 237 miles. Our guess is that it'll have the same 50kWh battery as the standard range Model 3 and therefore be able to charge at up to 170kW at a Tesla Supercharger.

Next up is the Long Range RWD which we assume will have the Model 3's 75kWh battery, capable of 250kW charging. This has an estimated WLTP range of 336 miles and knocks a few tenths off of the 0-60mph time, coming in at 5.5 seconds. Top speed is 130mph. In AWD form, the Long Range loses a bit of distance (314 miles WLTP estimate) but substitutes it with even more performance, hitting 60 in 4.8 seconds and touching 135mph at the top end.

Finally, the Performance version will likely share the Long Range's 75kWh battery and charging capabilities, but come packing serious heat in the powertrain department. A total power output of 580bhp is likely to be the final figure, enabling the car to hit 60 in 3.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 150mph. Range suffers, but is still a respectable 298 miles (WLTP estimate).

Interior and technology

Inside, the Model Y will have the option of coming with seven seats – so all your friends can be scared to death in Ludicrous Mode. As it shares much with the Model 3, the interior will most likely be fairly minimalist albeit with an enormous 15 inch centre touchscreen dominating the dash. You can have a variety of interior colours, but unless it's black you'll pay for it, and the load space is decent with a maximum of 1869 litres available.

As you'd expect from a Tesla, the Model Y won't be lacking on the tech front. The autopilot is the latest generation featuring 360-degree cameras, a radar that can look 160 metres ahead for advanced collision mitigation, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Full self-driving capability is an option.

That touchscreen interface offers sat nav with live traffic, full connectivity with your smartphone (which acts as a key, preconditioning device and hailing service), internet browsing and much more. Music streaming, whether over the web or via Bluetooth, is delivered by a dual-amp, 14 speaker immersive sound system. Over-the-air updates ensure that all of the car's software is updated as and when new releases come available.

Price and availability

As we mentioned above, the Long Range RWD and AWD, as well as the Performance variants of the Tesla Model Y should be available in the autumn, with the Standard Range car following in early 2021. Before you start adding options, of which there are many, the expected on-the-road prices are just under £30,000 for the Standard Range; £37,000 for the Long Range RWD; £40,000 for the Long Range AWD; £47,000 for the Performance model.

Whether you'll actually be able to get your hands on one at launch is a whole other question. Be in no doubt, the Model Y will follow the Model 3 in being a massive sales hit. In February last year, the Model 3 was the best selling EV in Europe which is good going for what is, and remains, a niche car manufacturer. Our advice? Get in early if you're serious about getting one in the first wave of imports!

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