Tesla’s Upgraded Model Y Finally Converted Me

Tesla’s Upgraded Model Y Finally Converted Me

The Tesla Model Y Performance (the more powerful, more expensive version of the standard Tesla Model Y) has made me finally understand Tesla – and I love it.

It’s been 9 months since the Tesla Model Y first came to Australia. In that time, it has become one of the country’s best-selling electric vehicles, sticking behind its older brother, the Model 3.

When we reviewed the Tesla Model Y back in June 2022, it was the standard RWD version. We didn’t really touch on the driving feel of the car, mostly because it was a non-issue. It wasn’t incredible, but it wasn’t bad, either. It’s a heavy car, but it’s stable on the road.

But this is the area where the Tesla Model Y Performance changes the most – and let me tell you, I can confidently say it’s the most pleasant car I’ve driven in a long time.

Tesla invited Gizmodo Australia to test drive the Model Y performance for three days, so here’s what we think.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Y walk?

The Tesla Model Y Performance is an AWD car that has two motors inside of it powering two wheels each. Over the less expensive RWD model, it has an upgraded and lowered suspension system, performance brakes, an upgraded battery with more range and 21-inch wheels.

The culmination of these improvements results in an incredibly satisfying driving experience – much greater stability and traction than the standard Model Y, and definitely better than most of the other electric vehicles Gizmodo Australia has reviewed previously.

Depending on if you’d like to go fast or really fast, the Model Y has two modes of power – chill and sport. I don’t think it’d be surprising to say that most of my time with the Model Y performance was spent with it in ‘sport’ mode, where acceleration reaches 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds – within the realm of Lamborghinis.

This speed made me zip past any traffic that I was being held back by, within the legal limit of course. While maintaining this high acceleration, handling was also brilliant, and with three different steering modes (as on the standard RWD model) you could adjust your experience to any driver’s preference.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

That being said, the acceleration-limited ‘chill’ mode was also satisfying. While it didn’t have the same acceleration speeds, this was ideal for inner-city and suburban driving. Anywhere I wouldn’t be launching it from traffic lights or maintaining a high speed on a long road. While it didn’t have the same thrilling highs as the sport, it still handled really nicely on bendy, tight roads.

But regardless of the power mode, these features made me finally get it. I still don’t believe Teslas are the best choice for everybody, especially those who dislike minimalism or are dissuaded by the $60,000+ entry costs, but with everything working perfectly on the road, I just can’t fault the Model Y Performance (although I will say that, during our time with the car, the autosteer feature was disabled).

With its substantial upgrades over the RWD Model Y, the problems that I had with that car (which we’ll retread below) melted away, and I no longer really cared when driving. The car drove without issue and that’s all I needed.

Not to let it go unmentioned, but the Model Y Performance also comes with aluminium alloy pedals and a carbon fibre spoiler. I’m unclear of how performance is impacted by either of these things (allegedly the spoiler improves stability at speeds upwards of 200km/h, which we of course didn’t travel at), but they were largely non-issues.

tesla model y performance
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Y run?

The performance is terrific, but what about the rest of the car?

I still hate the rear window of the Model Y. It didn’t irk me as much this time around, probably because I spent less time driving in busy inner-city areas and more time in the suburbs and on quiet streets in the inner west, but the rear vision of the Model Y Performance still sucks. There’s a rear camera, but it doesn’t make up for the rear window’s shortcomings.

Speaking of cameras, I’m a little disappointed in The Y’s lack of them, when compared to other automakers like Hyundai, Kia, Polestar and even BYD. The Model Y has a rear camera and one for each side, but it doesn’t have 360 parking assistance, like the earlier mentioned automakers. Perhaps this will change in an upcoming update, and to be fair it does have overhead collision avoidance assistance that shows the distance from objects around you when parking, but actually having a 360-camera feed for parking is an assistance feature I love and I truly think it’s an area where value can be added.

tesla model y performance(4)
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Additionally, Tesla’s minimalism is certainly not for everyone. I prefer having buttons and dials (thank you Hyundai), although at the very least, Tesla’s inbuilt operating system is fast and responsive. To many people, this is fine.

And of course, there’s the price – starting at $95,300 in Australia. This price point puts it above the luxury car tax and out of the realm of any state EV incentives in Australia. The upgraded Tesla Model Y doesn’t have a budget-friendly argument going for it, beyond lower running costs.

tesla model y performance
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Should you buy the Tesla Model Y Performance?

The Tesla Model Y Performance showcases the best of the EV maker that changed the world, but it comes at a very high price.

Were you interested in this car, I would likely direct you to its less powerful sibling, the standard Model Y, or its cheaper older brother, the Tesla Model 3.

But if you had the cash to splash, I don’t think the Tesla Model Y would disappoint you.

Want more Aussie car news? Here’s every EV we’ve reviewed in the last two years, all the EVs we can expect down under soon, and our guide to finding EV chargers across the country. Check out our dedicated Cars tab for more.

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