What does it take these days to test and share your impressions of driving a Tesla vehicle? It’s worth mentioning that the California-based manufacturer does not lend vehicles to the automotive press.
There are three choices for the car tester: buy one of the brand’s vehicles, which is quite expensive, borrow a fairly recent vehicle from someone you know, or use the services of a car-sharing agency. In fact, this test drive, which took place a few days earlier in October, would not have been possible without the help of the Turo agency, which kindly paid for the costs related to this test drive, a first contact behind the wheel of this Performance livery of the popular Model Y crossover that lasted from Monday to Friday.
Here’s a look back at the first contact with a utility vehicle unlike any other.
A familiar silhouette and an assembly…
There’s no need to describe the various design features of the compact crossover. Unless you live in a remote and isolated area, you’ll know what the American company’s most compact crossover looks like. Standing tall on 21-inch wheels, the Performance model is a little more aggressive than the other variant, which makes do with 19-inch wheels, the borrowed model that was equipped with a little spoiler mounted on the end of the trunk.
As for the assembly quality, everything has been said on this thorny subject, Tesla vehicles do not all come out of the brand’s workshops equal, let’s say. To my surprise, however, the 2022 Model Y I tested in October was quite well assembled. I went through all the body panels and didn’t find any glaring discrepancies, or even any major flaws in the charcoal gray paint. Granted, I didn’t spend three hours analyzing every exterior detail of the vehicle, but after a few laps of the vehicle, my first impression was excellent… for a vehicle whose reputation is not very enviable on the web. I was even surprised by the closing of the doors, which was straightforward, solid and worthy of a luxury car. So far, so good.
And inside, it’s better?
Here too, the interior didn’t leave me wanting, even if I find it lacking in life. Dressed in dark grey or black plastic panels, the interior of the crossover is quite monochrome, if you exclude the woodgrain strip that runs across the dashboard and the front door panels. Yes, it’s true that the glass roof adds a lot of light, but it would be interesting if Tesla, short of introducing new models, would consider offering other colour options for the interior. Okay, the all-white interior is available as an option, but with calcium and slush in the winter, it seems like a mistake not to make.
Some of the plastic panels are pretty cheap, while others, such as the felted pad for wireless charging of a smart device, are nicely done. For a vehicle that commands a starting price of $90,000 (for this Performance livery), I would have liked seats dressed in Alcantara suede or perforated leather, but no, that’s not the case at all on the seats or that 40/20/40 folding rear bench. As for the latter, it doesn’t fold completely flat for transporting bulky items, but hey, the Model Y is a family vehicle, not a delivery van.
A word about the touchscreen
First of all, I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of these touch screens for the sole reason that these computers integrated into the dashboard of vehicles disturb the attention of the person behind the wheel… and I won’t make an exception for the Model Y.
But, as luck would have it, the use of the latter turned out to be positive… after some trial and error anyway! For example, when operating the left-hand lever, which has a few windshield wiper logos on it, you have to watch the screen where, at the bottom left, a menu shows the different speeds of the system. The gearbox lever, on the other hand, is installed on the right side of the steering column and is easier to use.
While it’s true that connecting to all of the vehicle’s digital functions is quite complex – there are so many options and menus in this large screen – navigating through the entertainment system is, on the other hand, amazing. The graphics are clear, the screen’s responsiveness is excellent and the options are endless. You can waste several minutes (during a forced recharge on the road) discovering everything this tactile universe contains, even a racing game where the car’s steering wheel controls the digital Tesla on the screen. Of course, the latter is only possible when the car is parked.
But, at the risk of repeating myself, that doesn’t change the fact that the driver has to keep an eye on the front and with so many options in the center of the dashboard, you have to be careful not to get lost in the system menus while driving.
Behind the wheel
For this first real contact behind the wheel of a Tesla, I headed to Toronto where I had to go for the presentation of another type of car… this one powered by gasoline!
After a first tour of the dashboard and its particularities, I took the road and as soon as I started driving, I understood what seduces electric car fans. Quiet, smooth ride (on a good road) and relatively precise steering – thanks to the 21-inch wheels – the Model Y Performance is also a monster of acceleration when you press hard on the right pedal.
Still, the vehicle is heavy and the shocks are tuned for smooth surfaces like a pool table. As soon as the asphalt gets rough – like in Quebec, for example – the Model Y shakes its occupants. We’re not talking about an unpleasant ride, but next to the new luxury electric crossovers, the Model Y doesn’t offer such a mellow experience. Those rather stiff suspension settings affect body noise and some loose panels inside the cabin. In Ontario, on the rather well-maintained Highway 401, the electric crossover looked good, however.
When it comes to raw power, the Model Y Performance surprises as soon as you step on the right pedal. The pair of electric motors makes 456 horsepower, while the 471 lb-ft of torque (available right out of the box) ensures blistering acceleration. It’s not as violent as in one of Dodge’s muscle cars, for example – the silence inside the vehicle surely has something to do with it as well – but let’s just say that this Performance livery has what it takes to humiliate several car models at the drag strip. The Sport mode is also the one to choose to take advantage of the crossover’s sharper settings. I also really enjoyed the one-pedal driving, which is very easy to modulate.
Unfortunately, the promised 488 km range was put to the test on the 401 highway where the higher cadence hurt my electricity consumption, but let’s just say that the monotony of this neuralgic link pushes one to drive a little faster than the 100 km/h limit. I averaged 21.4 kWh/100 km, higher than RnC (Natural Resources Canada) estimates, with a distance closer to 390 km (instead of the promised 488 km) due to the many hard accelerations and the 120 km/h speed.
During this long drive, the Autopilot system was also put to the test, which assists the driver on the highway, but does not take over completely. The system responded quite well, even though it reacted rather abruptly when a truck left its lane. Fortunately, more fear than harm
Things to remember
Frankly, for a vehicle that’s been abused by thousands of users, the 2022 Tesla Model Y (in Performance livery) held up very well. There are still some adjustments to be made to the assembly and some of the controls are too complicated for my taste, but overall, this first encounter with the most interesting SUV in the lineup went very well.
A word about the Turo application
To access this world of personal – and shared – vehicles, I had to download the application via a smart device. Mind you, Turo can be accessed via the website once a user’s profile is created.
Like any good application, Turo offers a lot of parameters to its users, such as the distance between your home and the vehicle in question – I chose a vehicle that was more than a reasonable distance from my home -, the fees associated with each car, the cost for a day, a week or a month.
If you’re looking for a pickup to help a neighbour move, Turo has what you need. If your budget is limited, it is possible to limit your choice of cars by adjusting the maximum cost desired, in short, even an old dinosaur like me can find his way through these hundreds of ads where the vehicles are highlighted.
Once the desired vehicle is found, there are a few crucial steps to fill in, such as the dates of availability, the type of payment and other additional options such as the type of insurance the user wants, because Turo offers two levels: regular or premium and I recommend going for the more expensive of the two, you never know. Otherwise, your personal car insurance will take over.
Anyway, when the reservation was completed, I was able to chat with the car owner directly in the chat page of the app (or directly on my smartphone) about the final details. The lease was from Monday morning to Friday morning and gave me a maximum distance of 1,600 km, which was more than enough for me since I had to go to the suburbs of Toronto to test drive another vehicle… this one powered by gas!
I went to the owner’s home to take possession of this 2022 Tesla Model Y Performance (temporarily) using the digital key directly on my phone via the Tesla app. After taking a few pictures of the famous vehicle, I drove to the Queen City in the most frequently seen compact electric crossover on the road.