In recent years, Tesla has become a major player in the automotive industry, thanks to its electric vehicles which are known for their innovative features and cutting-edge technology. One of the latest additions to the Tesla family is the Model Y, an all-electric compact SUV that has quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most exciting and desirable cars on the market. As a proud owner of a Tesla Model Y, I can attest to the unique experience that comes with owning and driving this vehicle. In this article, I’ll share my honest thoughts about the buying experience, the first look and feel, and the first three months of owning and driving a Tesla Model Y, including the highs and lows, the cost, and everything in between.
Table of Contents
Buying a Tesla
I have been blogging and talking about electric vehicles (EVs) for a long time and I am 100% convinced that it will be the way of personal transportation of the future (for example here). So, it was only logical to buy such a car myself when it was due to get a new car.
Tesla wasn’t the only car I was looking at but at the time, at the end of the pandemic and in the middle of the transition of the automotive industry there weren’t many alternatives that had a reasonable delivery time. To name one alternative: The Škoda Enyaq iV 80. It is also a great-looking, roomy electric car – but unfortunately, the delivery time was more than a year at the time. Also, there weren’t many roomy EVs that fitted my budget. So, my eyes fell pretty quickly on the Tesla Model Y!
To make everything a little bit measurable, I will rate every station in bold at the end with a rating out of 10 and add everything up at the end. I will give some reasoning for my rating as well. In the end, I will draw a conclusion and sum the ratings up. In the summary, I will weigh the physical car ratings double compared to the experience-based ones.
Test driving a Model Y performance
I went by the local dealership close to my hometown and asked for a test drive – which was possible the same week. A very comfortable and friendly process. Even though the employees at the Tesla popup store (before they opened the proper store in Karlsruhe) were clearly very busy, everyone was very friendly and took the time to explain everything. They gave me a black Tesla Model Y performance for around 14 hours (from Friday afternoon until Saturday noon). Plenty of time to test drive it myself, show it to my better half and get her approval as well. Getting it Friday afternoon meant as well that the car was underway nearly the whole day and was quite empty – that was my chance to also test the supercharger experience right away. The 20 minutes of charging gave me plenty of time to give the interior and exterior a proper look around.
The test drive of course sold me completely. The car is very spacious, comfortable, and easy to drive. It took me only a few minutes to get used to the one-pedal driving and the fact that the speedometer is not directly in front of you but on the center display. All fearmongering around build quality has proven as not accurate. Is the quality equal to an upper-mid-class German brand? Certainly no. Is it as bad as you read on the internet? No, for sure not. But more on this later.
In the end, after Mrs. van Zeist and our little one liked the driving experience and the space in the car, the decision was made quite quickly: we will order a Tesla Model Y!
My rating for the test drive is a 10 out of 10. It was uncomplicated, I had loads of time to review and think of it and it was possible on short notice. Nothing to complain about.
On the 28th of April 2022, I ordered my Tesla Model Y. We decided on the white color because it has a nice contrast with the black rims and exterior details. The inside had to be black vegan leather because it is easier to clean and isn’t as receptive to dirt in the first place. Then there was the decision to either take a long-range or a performance model. The long-range model has a range of 533km and the performance of 514km – a mere 19km difference which is mostly due to the larger wheels on the performance. The price difference is a whopping €10k, which reduces to €6k if you choose the larger (and nicer looking) wheels on the long-range. In addition to the even larger 21″ turbine wheels, the performance also has performance brakes, a top speed of 250 (not that it matters so much), a carbon spoiler (I love it), and some other minor details. So, still fully under the impression of the acceleration during my test drive, I chose the Model Y performance in white with a black interior. I also added a full set of winter tires and advanced autopilot. I will come to the reasoning for the latter a little later.
The entire ordering process is online. I was in contact with the dealership but still I had to place my order and the initial €250 reservation fees online. The financing options you can see on the internet page are quite limited. For example, I receive a car allowance at a certain height, so I wanted to adjust the monthly payment – which was not possible. Only by adjusting the number of driven kilometers and the initial payment I could influence the numbers. Had I only known that, after you get verified, you get a login to the Santander Bank financing page, which Tesla uses as a financing partner. You have all freedom there to set whatever you want. This is a piece of information I would have loved to have earlier. Unfortunately, the employees at the Tesla dealership didn’t seem to know a lot about the financing details – I guess most Teslas are either leased or bought without financing? However, after a lengthy study of all the papers, and verification to the bank, the ordering was done and the wait began.
My rating for the ordering process is a 9 out of 10. I liked the easiness of ordering online on a well-described website. Also, the little options didn’t scare me off as the car is pretty much feature complete. The only downturn was the little inexperienced consultancy of the dealership with the Santander financing and the associated options – which were much more than first anticipated. Because, in the end, I was more flexible than I thought it was only one point deduction.
Initially, I agreed with the friendly and helpful Tesla employee at the dealership to delay the delivery of the car. My company car was due to end in October and the initial delivery date set by Tesla was in August. So, to avoid paying for two cars, we placed my delivery on halt. Sometime in August, we agreed to put me on the list again because, due to the global crisis going on, there were also some delivery delays at Tesla so, to make sure I receive a car in time, we continued with the delivery.
The initial delivery date was between the 11th and 30th of September. Still well a month too early but I didn’t want to complain as it was an extremely quick delivering and everyone else was waiting for years with other manufacturers.
Unfortunately, the dates changed sometimes but the good thing is, the buyer has always a good view of it in the Tesla app. The date shifted from the September timeframe to December and back.
While it is a little nerve-wracking when the delivery date disappears (which happened I guess two times) and when the dates are jumping around, it still got more and more accurate the sooner the proposed delivery date gets. But if you are looking forward to such a new “toy” every delay, of course, isn’t pleasant. Ultimately the delivery date was December the 10th 2022 – fortunately I could delay returning my old car, so, it worked out perfectly. And while delays are not pleasant and not easy to plan with, the delays of Tesla are within very tight boundaries and very moderate given the stories I heard from friends and colleagues ordering cars from other manufacturers.
Granted that the wait was not too long and, despite several date changes and missing dates in the app, the delivery was within a two-month window of the targeted date. Also, the sales rep at Tesla was always there for assistance, and having everything in the app as well gives a great level of transparency. I can only give this a 10 out of 10 – taking into consideration the external circumstances of supply line challenges and the overall economic and global environment.
Before delivery the down payment was due. The entire process, including getting the needed documents to register the car was very uncomplicated. Compared to other dealerships Tesla doesn’t offer to register the car and get license plates. But that’s not very complicated – the only challenge is, that the time window between getting the documents and the planned pickup date way very small – about one week. Given that you have to make appointments with the registration office and you need to get the insurance right at that time, it cost me some nerves.
The pickup as such was a very pleasant experience. Of course, if you go to Mercedes or Audi, you receive your car in a nice “moment of truth” setting. At Tesla, the car is just outside (which is much less pleasant if it would have rained … but it was lovely weather and a good photo spot in front of the Tesla Logo). The car was explained well and we even got some merchandise with it. We had time to inspect the car thoroughly and see if everything works if all panel gaps are fine and so on. Everything was perfect, except for some fluff on the dashboard. The car was even charged decently (about 70%).
After about 1h we drove off with our brand-new Tesla Model Y. 🥳
Some words about what is included and what isn’t: Of course, I ordered winter tires, which were already mounted, the summer tires were in the trunk. Also, the Tesla comes with a type-2 charging cable, a 230v charger, and a hazard triangle. What isn’t included is a first aid kit and high visibility jackets – which both is very unfortunate as you have to have that in the car at all times by law and you have to buy them yourselves after getting the car.
The delivery gets a 6 out of 10. We were lucky with the weather and I understand that such a large volume of deliveries cannot always take place inside. However, other car manufacturers do this and the “magic moment” feels so much more worthy than taking delivery outside. As said, we were lucky but things would be different if it hadn’t been such nice weather. Surely a thing that can be improved and I will deduct two points for that. The missing accessories (which were not missing but simply not included) deduct another point. the fact that the car was not entirely clean (which, in the grand scheme of things isn’t very important), deducts another point.
One major point of criticism and also scaremongering is the build quality of Tesla. Mine was built in Giga Berlin – one reason for the short time to order. The overall quality is good and by far not as bad as described. All panel gaps, besides not being the smallest I have ever seen (who cares?), were all the same and give a consistent picture of the car. Materials are ok. The vegan leather doesn’t feel 100% like real leather but in general not bad. The seats are comfortable but are missing more contour and lateral hold. The double glass seems to be much better than the single glass’s predecessors.
The overall build quality is a solid 8 as there are no shortcomings in building the car. Overall panel gaps could be smaller and the drivers’ door needs some minor adjustments.
The valency (Wertigkeit) is probably the weakest point of a Tesla. While it is built well, the materials used and the way how it is built give strong indications that cost reduction was involved in nearly all areas of the car. For instance, the window sprayers are mounted rather cheaply to the windshield wipers, the frunk which has the appearance of just a metal sheet (and sound), or the vegan leather. Everything is “good” but not in a sphere that really matches the price tag. If you look at a BMW iX3 or a Mercedes EQB, the valency is much higher and the materials used are better.
For those reasons, I will give the Model Y valency a rating of 6 out of 10 for valency.
As you might know, or not, the Tesla comes with all extras. You can’t choose additional extras and you cannot remove any extras to save money (one exception is the advanced autopilot and self-driving). But, as mentioned, as standard, the Model Y is fully equipped. It has automatic lighting, windshield wipers, high beam, lane assist, and adaptive cruise control (which they combined call “autopilot”), five heated seats as well as the steering wheel, electric windows, and of course trunk … the list goes on and on. In that regard, Tesla is very much complete. I will come to some digital gadgets a little later as I think they are worth mentioning separately.
However, there are also some gaps … some major gaps in the equipment list of the Tesla. Some would list a missing proper dashboard here – I don’t as you get used to the central screen too quickly. But things that are missing are for example a head-up display. A nice add-on because you don’t have this central dash to look for your speed or satnav directions. All other options are a personal decision … and I won’t complain about that. But two main things are missing or not functioning properly:
Park distance control: Tesla just recently removed the ultrasound sensors on their bumpers and disabled the park distance control even on cars that previously had it. Mine came without. Of course, there is the rear-facing camera but there is nothing for the front. Tesla wants to replace this at some point with Tesla vision, their camera detection feature. But this means that they currently do not have any solution and you have to live without it. There is no timeline for when Tesla’s vision will take up the functions of park distance control and how accurate it will be, given that there is no camera that sees directly in front of the car.
I hope that they will eventually solve this issue but I am not overly confident about it. Not that I can’t live without but if even very cheap entry-level cars have it, a Tesla should also have it.
Speed limit / sign detection: Most modern cars with expensive sat-navs have road sign-based speed limit detection. They recognize road signs and feed that input into the cruise control or just display the speed limit on the dash. Tesla also displays the speed limit and adjusts the cruise control but only based on map data and a database. It does not “read” the road signs. This means that, at best, it is too late with adjusting the speed and at worst doesn’t recognize a speed limit (or the absence of one) at all. The fact that this happens with a manufacturer who already offers full self-driving (although only in beta in the US), is very strange. Also, those signs regularly pop up on the auto-pilot screen. Tesla recently released an update where this should be solved. In my experience the situation is close to no better than before as it for sure does not recognize all signs reliably. A big No for a technologically advanced company like Tesla.
I will rate the equipment of a Tesla with 6 out of 10. Initially, it would be a 10 for sure, because everything is there. But I deduct two points for the parking sensors, one for the speed limit/sign detection and one for not being configurable at all.
Autopilot & enhanced autopilot
The name “autopilot” is a little bit misleading IMHO. Other manufacturers call it “lane assist” and “adaptive cruise control”. Both combined make up the standard autopilot function of Tesla. And it works very well. For sure better than my four-year-old Mercedes E-Class which had both mentioned features as well. I don’t have a comparison to a 2022 or 2023 Mercedes – especially not of the EQ range but I can imagine they will come close to that. But this doesn’t mean the Tesla one is any bad – on the contrary. It makes life really easy. One downside is the mentioned lack of recognizing road signs.
I also purchased the “enhanced autopilot” package right from the start. The main reason was the “navigate with autopilot” – where the autopilot can drive in and out of the autobahn and change autobahns.
To rip the band-aid off this off right away: This doesn’t work in any way and I essentially stopped using the “navigate with autopilot”. Maybe in the US the Tesla also automatically changes lanes, in Germany at least you have to initiate the lane change with the indicator, have to have your hands on the wheel, and put at least some input into the wheel at that time. Only then the Tesla will do an automatic lane change or go off the Autobahn. This is more effort than actually doing it yourself – also, because the autopilot makes frequent mistakes, especially when going off the autobahn or changing autobahns. Then you must react quickly. Lastly, which is also annoying, that the Tesla asks you to change lanes all the time – even if you see that, in the distance, there is another car. So it keeps on “dinging” and “donging” … annoying. So, if you don’t like the excitement and the extra effort – you leave it off. I hope that Tesla will improve this in the future – especially for use in Germany.
The second feature not or close to not available in Germany is summoning and smart summoning. Just forget about it – even in my own driveway. Very sad.
One feature I thought I wouldn’t need the enhanced autopilot for is something I only learned by watching videos of users driving Teslas and changing lanes when using autopilot. If you only have autopilot and you have to change lanes, the autopilot disconnects and you have to re-engage the autopilot again in the new lane. My Tesla, with enhanced autopilot, will assist me with the lane change – it will indicate if it’s free – and will change lanes. This is nice and supportive. I am happy that I added enhanced autopilot but for this reason and not the reasons I thought I buy it.
All in all, I have to give this a rating of 7 out of 10 for the stated reasons. Why advertise with features you cannot use in your region due to rules and regulations? All in all working well but with some bittersweet taste to it.
Please don’t roll your eyes now – especially my wife would do that if she would read this headline. I won’t go over the fart mode or party mode. Things that are fun, but are not of real use. But I think I have to mention other digital gadgets in the car which I haven’t seen in others – for sure not in ICE cars.
I would like to highlight the streaming services integrated into the dash. This is great for waiting outside the supermarket or at a charger. Time flies if you can watch a nice movie or short YouTube video. I probably use this more than I should.
But I use Spotify integration even more. It literally has the Spotify app on the main screen and you can use your entire library and all music on Spotify very conveniently while you are driving. Really really great and even better than using CarPlay! And the sound system is better than I have heard in many Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Cars! The base is really good and the sound is very well-balanced.
Not really a gadget but a system on the car is the voice commands and, because I use both simultaneously, the sat nav. The quality of speech recognition is beyond comparison. It is extremely good and fast. You can use voice commands to do things that usually would make you reach for a button (which is not there in a Tesla of course) and it is the, by far, fastest in finding addresses and starting the sat nav without unneeded questions such as “pick one destination from this list I think I understood” and “do you want to navigate to this destination” just one confirmation that the address is correct and merely seconds later the route is calculated and the car starts navigating. See for yourself with an address example over 500km away in a different country (Netherlands):
What is even more convenient is navigating between known addresses. Just one swipe right on the address bar and the car starts navigating to the home address. If you are at home, the same gesture will navigate to work. And if you have synced your calendar to the car, it will automatically start navigating to the address of your next appointment. Couldn’t be any better. I could go on and on about the navigation system and the voice commands – they are so good!
Small gadgets that the car has are also automatic seat and steering wheel heaters. They automatically turn on when if the seat or the steering wheel is cold and turn off if the temperature is cozy and warm.
Lastly, I have to mention the mobile app with which you can control half of the car, plan trips, and send navigation destinations to the car (easily from each other app on the phone). And of course, using your phone as a car key – how could I have ever lived without it? In times where you can use your phone to unlock your front door and can pay in nearly all shops and restaurants, using it as a car key just feels so natural and does not only eliminate my wallet but also a key chain from my daily life. An honorable mention is, that you can even integrate the Tesla into your smart home through tools like Home Assistant. All APIs are there.
All in all software and digital gadgets are the domain of Tesla. I would give more than 10 points if I could in this case it’s “only” 10.
Space and practicality
Space is something the Tesla Model Y has for sure. Other than the slightly smaller Model 3, the trunk opens with a wide door fully open and you can use the entire space. Tesla claims that it has 1900 liters of space if you fold down the seats. The German ADAC measured 420 Liters with seats up and 1380 liters with folded down seats (for comparison, a Mercedes E-class T-model has between 640 bis 1820 liters). However, these values are misleading when it comes to total space – and this is also where the discrepancy comes from. The Tesla has huge amounts of space under the trunk and on the sides. You can easily store another cabin bag and more in there. Then there is the frunk in which you can also store items (I mainly use it for the charging cables, 230V charger, first aid kit, and so on, so you don’t have them flying around and you still can access all of that even if your entire trunk is filled to the roof). So, the 1900 liters, Tesla claims it has, can absolutely make sense – just not if you “only” measure the trunk above the floor.
Space is also something I was looking for when deciding on the Model Y. Many other EVs are too small or too pricy to fit into my budget.
Also, the space on the seats, front, and rear, is very good. Even if you are above 1.8m in size and you adjust the driver’s seat to that, there is enough space for someone the size of 2m to comfortably sit behind the driver without his knees touching the front seat.
Then there are those big pockets in the center console to store everything from sunglasses to a medium-sized dog. They are also equipped with two USB-C charging ports. These accompany the two wireless charging trays for phones directly under the main screen – finally, a convenient place to put your phone while driving!
The Model Y isn’t the biggest car but it surely has seas of space, pockets, and little details to it that make it a spacious and practical car – therefore I give it a full 10 points.
Driving the Tesla is really great fun. The low center of gravity prevents the car from rolling too much. In combination with the very stiff performance springs and dampers, the car actually doesn’t show any body movement at all. This makes it nimble. In combination with a good and reactive steering, which, even if you are not yet in full sport mode, is already quite heavy and very direct, makes it a great car to drive and corner. Also because of the immense power, you don’t feel the 2-ton weight of the car at all.
The electric drive train makes the throttle unbelievably easy to control and dose. You have torque in every moment. And that 393 kW (534 bhp) is insane. Unfortunately, the Christmas update came two weeks too late for me to try out the new “Track Mode”, that was added, in the snow. I am very excited to try to drift the Y around some corners.
So, in essence, I cannot give the Y anything less than a 10 in fun.
Range and cost per 100km
The range is undoubtedly one of the most controversially discussed characteristics of an electric vehicle. I discussed here in length why this is not such a big issue as many people think – non the less it is something that, of course, must be included into the review. So, here is my real-world experience then. Keep in mind that all of this experience is in the winter when an EV is least efficient because it doesn’t have access heat such as an ICE car to heat the cabin – it has to create that heat (and heat in the battery) using the power you drive with. For reference: The temperatures from December 2022 to February 2023 ranged everything between +16°C and -12°C – mostly well below 10°C. Many morning dives were below 0°C. Also, I drive short distances (about 2/3rd) and Autobahn (1/3rd) with speeds over 130km/h – going up to 200km/h (yes, I have even maxed it out once at 250km/h and can confirm: it works) and am currently running winter tires, which also add a couple of percent fuel consumption. So, I might update this specific paragraph later with values that cover a larger temperature range.
Tesla claims that my car has a maximum range of 514km – which it does not achieve in these temperatures. If I fully charge the car (which I, to maximize battery lifetime, seldomly do), it shows me around 480km of usable range. If you then subtract the last 5% (I don’t think no one deliberately uses the last drops of fuel in their gas-powered car as well), we end up with a usable range of around 450km if I go by the dash and the calculation of the car.
I drove 4.185km since I got the car and I used 938kWh of Energy – which comes down to 22,4kWh/100km. This exceeds the stated energy usage, which is 15,7 kWh/100km. So, it uses nearly 50% more energy than Tesla says. This is partly due to the not-so-energy-efficient higher speeds, some fun I had with the acceleration (which you, I guess, do most if your toy is new), and the colder temperatures. All factors would also increase an ICU’s fuel efficiency. My 4-year-old Mercedes also didn’t use the fuel that was claimed – although the difference wasn’t 50%.
So, in real life, the shown 480km are with only 66% of the actual energy consumption (only two-thirds of what I have right now). So, realistically the usable range of the Tesla Model Y performance in the winter here in Germany is somewhat of 315km. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, less than the claimed 514km! But if you think of it realistically: This is a worst-case example (speeding, accelerating, cold temperatures and some percent safety in the battery as well) and it still can bring you comfortably over 300km without a stop. With a charging stop of 30 minutes (which is not a bad idea after driving for almost three hours) it gives you another easy 200km of range. Enough to travel through Europe without too much of a difference to ICU cars.
Secondly, there is the cost. Currently, one liter of petrol or diesel here costs somewhere around 1.8€ (which is at a multi-year low). One kilowatt of electricity is 40ct (at home and at slower chargers and a multi-year high). So, I paid 375€ for those 938kWh of Electricity to get me the 4.185km distance. The same amount of money would have gotten me 208 liters of petrol or diesel. This would have gotten me (besides emitting close to 500kg of CO2) the 4.185km, if my car constantly would have used less than 5 liters of petrol on 100km. Something that can only be achieved with much smaller cars with much less power. Also, keep in mind that it was not long ago when the fuel price was over 2€ per liter – and there the story is totally different.
I will update this part with newer and more representative data at a later stage and possibly re-evaluate.
My summary is mixed. Although I expected more, I also experienced firsthand, that it doesn’t really need more! The charging network, at least where I go and drive, is very good and I can charge at home, which, I know, separates me from some who are looking at EVs. I will rate the range of the car with 7 out of 10. Mostly because the range that has been promised is out of reach. I would have rated it lower but here I must say I am astonished that how little it really matters – and the range or fuel consumption of ICE cars also is out of reach in daily use – and this test is based on my actual usage.
|Autopilot & Enhanced Autopilot||7||2x||14|
|Space and Practicality||10||2x||20|
My overall Tesla Model Y Performance rating:
7,5 Points (143/19=7,5)
The 7.5 overall is a fair rating for this car. It is different than other cars – refreshingly different in some cases, sometimes annoyingly different in others. I do not regret buying it for a moment and I am looking forward to many years with the car.
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below.