Not just in terms of acceleration – though its 3.7 second sprint to 100km/h is suitably brisk – but in how soon you can get hold of one.
Order the new Tesla Model Y today and you can expect to take delivery in March or April. That certainly isn’t the case for electric rivals at a similar price.
Available for $97,100 plus on-road costs (about $106,000 drive-away), the new Performance model costs about $34,000 more than a regular Tesla Model Y.
Normally, range-topping performance models look markedly different to regular models. You wouldn’t mistake a BMW M3 for a regular 3 Series, or confuse a Ford Falcon GT for a taxi-spec model.
But Tesla treads a different path. The Model Y Performance gets a subtle carbon fibre lip spoiler, 21-inch “uberturbine” alloys in a black finish, plus red brake callipers.
Enthusiasts might also notice slightly lower suspension and wider rear tyres – Pirellis, in the case of our test car.
The big changes are under the skin.
The standard Tesla Model Y has 455km of range, reaches 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 217km/h. Those numbers are more than satisfactory, they helped the Model Y earn News Corp Australia’s overall Car of the Year award for 2022.
But the Tesla Model Y Performance goes further.
A bigger battery and the addition of a front electric motor return 514 kilometres of range, a 3.7 second dash to 100km/h, and 250km/h top speed.
Tesla won’t say exactly how big the battery is or how powerful the motors are, as it has a policy of keeping consumers in the dark surrounding technical details.
Homologation documents suggest the Tesla Model Y Performance has 393kW of power, though expert analysis from EV Central pitches it closer to 350kW.
As with any new Tesla, the Model Y benefits from the widespread (though expensive) Supercharger network of EV fuelling stations that can add 261km of range to the model in just 15 minutes.
A four-year, 80,000km warranty falls short of the five-year, unlimited-kilometre guarantee that represents the industry standard today.
After all, Tesla does things differently.
There are no conventional keys to the Model Y, which unlocks itself as owners approach the car with their smartphone in their pocket.
There is no starter button to turn it on or off. You simply pop it into drive using a selector mounted on the steering column, and start driving.
Inner-city traffic gives an opportunity to assess the Model Y’s cabin. It has the same comfortable, though not particularly sporty vinyl seats as the standard car. Like the best-selling Model 3, it lacks a conventional driver’s instrument cluster or head-up display – all information and entertainment duties are handled by a massive 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.
It’s not the most ergonomic solution – we would prefer a speed readout front and centre, and the ability to open the glovebox without swiping and tapping through a screen’s menus.
Smartphone mirroring would also be nice to have, though it’s hard to criticise Tesla on the tech front.
Its phone app is easily the best in any car at this price point, and the touchscreen’s treasure trove of entertainment options – including Netflix and video games – leave rivals floundering.
Tesla’s unbranded 14-speaker stereo is better than you will find in any car under $100,000 or so, particularly if your musical tastes lean toward hip-hop, R & B or electronic dance music.
The bass punches hard without distorting, and the high notes deliver a clarity missing for luxury cars with much higher price tags.
It’s a highlight in an airy cabin with plenty of headroom and surplus light thanks to a panoramic sunroof. Storage is plentiful, and there is usable space in the “frunk” between the headlights.
Safety is a strong point, and the standard driver assistance suite is all you need – don’t fork out $10,100 for “full self-driving” that doesn’t deliver what it promises.
We’ll also call out the lack of a parcel shelf over the boot that can make the cabin sound boomy over bumps.
Heavily revised suspension in the Model Y Performance delivers tauter body control than the regular model, as well as a better-resolved ride. The regular car feels harsh over sharp imperfections, but the new machine has a rounded edge to its ride quality that makes it a better bet for everyday driving.
There’s minimal roll from the big SUV, despite near-two-tonne mass.
But it’s not a drivers’ car.
Quick steering feels out of step with the rest of the experience, and a lack of feel from the front tyres lets the side down.
Carefully calibrated throttle responses and a predictive traction control system take the edge off perceived performance – floor it around a corner at low speed, and the Tesla feels like it sends around half of its potential power to the tyres.
That’s a good thing for everyday driving. The Model Y finds impressive traction and still offers the sort of rolling acceleration that puts many sports cars to shame.
Hoons can deactivate traction control and play around with a drift mode unique to the new model, but we didn’t give that a go.
Performance may be the name of this new Model Y variant, but it’s not a conventional performance car. This isn’t the sort of machine that will have you setting pre-dawn alarms for long drives purely for driving pleasure.
It’s a faster, more composed version of a car that already represents one of the most impressive machines on the road.
And that’s enough to make the Tesla Model Y Performance an easy machine to recommend.
TESLA MODEL Y PERFORMANCE
PRICE About $106,000 drive-away
MOTOR Front and rear electric, about 393kW
WARRANTY/SERVICE 4-year/80,000km, no capped price servicing
SAFETY 7 airbags, front and rear auto emergency braking, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, traffic jam assistance
BOOT 854 litres
SPARE repair kit