Is this SUV gold? Hands-on with the New Zealand-specification Tesla Model Y

David Linklater
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Yes, it's here with a capital Y: the first Tesla Model Ys have landed in New Zealand.

The Model 3 has been a sensation in NZ: in 2021 it became the first bespoke battery electric vehicle (BEV) to break into the top 10 in the sales charts for the year.

The Model Y has the potential to do even better: it's based on the Model 3, but is a little larger, a little taller - and a whole lot more like an SUV.

The Y rises 180mm above the 3, with a higher H-point and loads more luggage space: 425 litres for the 3 sedan versus a whopping 854l for the hatch-cum-SUV Y.

The Y has arrived in NZ in RWD form first, with 455km range (WLTP) and 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds. At $76,200 it's under the Clean Car Discount cap and qualifies for the full $8625 BEV rebate (so the "real" price is $67,575).

As a benchmark, the equivalent RWD Model 3 is $73,200; range 491km, 0-100km/h 6.1sec.

Still to come is the Model Y Performance AWD, with 514km range and 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds. Very quick, but at $108,900 there's no rebate, making the real-world difference between the two models $43,325.

The Model 3 Performance is $100,900; range 547km, 0-100km/h 3.3sec.

Both NZ Model Y variants are five-seaters only for now, but seven chairs is a possibility for the future: three-row seating is available in the US.

Towing will definitely be an option for the Y from 2023, with a "service installed" kit available early in the year. Figures to be finalised, but overseas the Y is rated for 1600kg.

What's the Model Y like to drive? We can't tell you yet. But check in here at for a full review of the RWD model on Wednesday June 22.

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