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Model Y Test Drive Impressions

911-TOUR

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
4
21
Houston, Texas
So...have been thinking about selling my Cayenne because I don't drive it much now that I am working from home for the rest of the year - with the idea that when things get back to normal I'll pickup an EV for daily / kiddo duties. I decided before making the leap, I should probably go and drive a Tesla Model Y, as that would be on the short list (along with a Taycan CT most likely). I'm glad I did. Here is my short take:

TL;DR: Positives: Fast, great tech. Negatives: Suspension tuning, awful seats.

General:
The car I drove was a Model Y LR Performance *without* the Performance Upgrade Package (no longer sold) with 19" wheels and the standard suspension / brakes. Fit and finish on this car was excellent - probably not Porsche-level initial quality, but not that far off to my eye. Materials were good and on par with my base V6 Cayenne Platinum. No rattles or interior imperfections that I could detect during the drive. The tech and user-interface are already well reviewed elsewhere and so I won't go into that. I personally don't find it to be as "otherworldly" next generation as some folks do, but it is very good and seamless (it has to be). One downside that I didn't appreciate - if you wear glasses for computer work (as I do) but not for driving / distance vision (20/10 here) - the screen presents a bit of an issue. My eyes had a hard time making the transition from outside the cockpit to the fine print on the screen. This forced me to use the voice-command features for even simple things like turning on the wipers in a passing downpour. I might develop some muscle memory for this if I drove the car every day - so not really a big issue I think. But I thought I'd mention it as I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.

Driving:
Car is EV fast, just like the Taycan. That part I like a lot. Traction control was surprisingly good in the heavy passing downpours. One pedal driving implementation is very well executed and much better than the Taycan (which cannot really be driven as a one-pedal car). What surprised me was suspension tuning. Now, it's perhaps not fair to compare the Model Y to a Porsche Cayenne -- but they both weigh about the same amount, and both have fixed geometry suspensions that must manage a lot of mass, so I'm going to do it. Frankly the Cayenne is light-years ahead of the Model Y on this front. My Cayenne has the 21" wheels and sits 10" off the ground - with this setup it is exceptionally well tuned for the road work. The Model Y had 19" wheels and sits 6.4" up - about the only advantage I could discern was the lower center-of-gravity. *Everything* else was worse. The Model Y has significantly more body roll, has mis-calibrated damping for its spring rates (overdamped on initial rebound, then underdamped at longer travel), and an overall "jumpiness" to the character of the suspension that didn't give me a lot of confidence in its long-term livability. It was to the point that I mentioned it to the folks running the test-drive when I returned it to ask if the car needed service. It just didn't feel right. It was fun to drive in a straight line for the most part, but certain sections of pavement and corners left me unimpressed. By contrast my Cayenne is extremely well composed on the same roads and seems to effortlessly feel both planted and compliant - its no 911, but it is "fun". I may need to drive another Model Y to see if this was truly an anomaly or is, in fact, the designed response. On the positive side, steering feel was surprisingly good in "Sport". I felt like they essentially digitally cloned a E92 BMW 3 series rack (which is not a bad thing at all).

Ergos / Human Factors:
Finally, the ergonomics - and I have to say I was on the one hand impressed, and on the other really disappointed. The seating position is very good. Forward visibility very good. The touch panel is within easy reach. The single-vent A/C works surprisingly well. I like the elegance of the minimalist design. Sure, I'd like a few more physical elements for common controls (for things like wipers) - but that's a nit I'd probably get past. The rear window needs a wiper, badly. Rear visibility is marginal-to-poor (and for those that say use the camera - we tried, and it was blurred by rainwater). What I can't get past though are the seats. Front seats would be very good if they only had thigh extensions. This is probably the one thing that prevents me from considering the car. I'm 5'10" with an average build, and the seat bottom feels like a cliff 2/3rds down my thighs. It was uncomfortable after just the 1hr test drive. I think the placement on risers in the Model Y hurts this seat in a way that the Model 3 doesn't bring out ... but still, they need a seat option here with the thigh extension. The rear seats as well are a mess. They have lots of leg-room, but are plywood stiff. My kids would be complaining in 30 minutes. I can't imagine a road-trip in the rear seats. It would be torture, not from the lack of room, from the hardness and lack of support. By contrast here, the Cayenne is in another league (and the Taycan as well). My 14 way seats are 12 hour comfortable and the the rears are as well. Tesla has a massive way to go here. Granted, they are not really aimed at the same segment (utility vs sport/luxury) - but at this price point, they have to do better. And small fixes would be all that is necessary, I think.

All in, I came away a bit disappointed. I wanted to like the Model Y - and I do like the idea - it's a perfect commuter car concept. The execution is 70% of the way there. If they fixed the suspension and the seats I think the buyer pool would increase a great deal. However, as it stands today, my Cayenne is the better vehicle, and the Taycan is a much better EV from a human-factors standpoint. I think my wife put it best: the Model Y felt like a dressed up economy car. Our base Cayenne feels like a purposeful luxury SUV. So, I suppose I'll wait for the Taycan CT / EV Macan ...

I'm glad I got out and gave it a whirl.

cheers!
 

cab

Active Member
Sep 5, 2013
1,032
719
Grapevine, TX
Nice review - appreciate you covering some new areas. I have a feeling Tesla will be changing the suspension tuning on the Model Y over the next few months. What seems almost unfathomable is that they repeated the SAME MISTAKE they made with the Model 3! The Model 3 was originally launched with a "too firm" suspension and then 6 months later they softened it up (and even offered retrofits upon request)....heck, they actually improved the seats too a few months after that.

What many are less aware of is that the Model 3 continued to have updates to the damper/springs based on part numbers in the catalog. I almost wonder if they purposely deploy with the firm stuff so the various auto mags (who tend to gravitate toward "sport") will review the cars better....who knows? My own test drives of the Model 3 (not Y) oddly showed the performance suspension actually seemed BETTER in many ways than the regular suspension in terms of general ride quality. I think much of that has to do with Tesla "fixing it" as the performance version came out later. Of course given that there are now at least two aftermarket vendors offering "comfort" coilovers for the Model 3, it suggests there is still room for improvement here.

Finally, I am seeing the "too firm" ride comments in a lot of reviews now. Case in point, I just got this month's Car and Driver and they weren't impressed with the ride quality either on the long range AWD with 20" rims. Here are a few comments from that review (note: the comparisons were to their long term Model 3 AWD):

"Even though the Y and 3 share powertrains and batteries, the less refined driving characteristics of the former is instantly discernible by anyone who has driven the latter. There is more body roll, and a keen tush detects a bit of flex in the unibody when the chassis is stressed in corners or by pockmarked roads. The quick steering makes the 350 pound heavier Model Y feel twitchy in comparison with the 3, and our test car's optional 20-inch wheels contribute, no doubt, to the suspension crash over expressway expansion joints."

They were impressed by the Model Y's range relative to the Model 3, and may have assumed at least part of that was down to tire selection and inflation pressures as they indicate (with regard to the Model Y range relative to the 3): "I appreciate that Tesla could overcome this drawback of turning a car into an SUV, but it took seriously uncomfortable ride quality on 20-inch wheels and tires to achieve it."

I held out for the air suspension on the Model 3 and that never materialized. The Sandy Munro tear down video for the Model Y showed the label that indicated "coil suspension" which leads some folks to believe there could be an "air suspension" option in the future, but no one really knows. Minimally, Mountain Pass Performance has already indicated they are working on coilovers for the Model Y and Unplugged performance already has their comfort tuned units available. It is hard to believe these guys would bother if they didn't think there would be a market for them!
 
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airbrett

Member
Feb 12, 2020
118
68
San Francisco, CA
Great write up on your test drive. I want to piggyback on my experience driving one last weekend. Maybe this can become a test drive impressions thread.

Car driven: Long Range AWD, 19" Gemini Wheels.
Current car: BMW 135i with M-Sport package.

The only other Tesla I have driven before this was a Model 3 Performance. That experience was an eye opener. Coming from driving BMWs I appreciate the driving dynamics and connection between the driver and the road and gravitate toward a sportier, firmer suspension. The M3 Performance did not disappoint. My concerns with the MY I have on order were whether I would be disappointed with the driving feel given it is a CUV. I was also considering a BMW X3 and Porsche Cayenne.

I started the test drive on city streets. The first thing I noticed is that the drive was not as firm as I thought it would be based on other reports and it handled potholes and rougher city roads well. It is much more comfortable than the 135i- the 19" Gemini option definitely is a factor here. My BMW has low profile run-flat tires that transfer every bump into your skeleton.

The acceleration and deceleration was great. The acceleration was nothing like the M3P but felt equivalent to the 300hp 135i. This makes sense given the 0-60 figure is nearly identical. I like the one foot driving as well and it took little time to adapt.

The small rear window was noticeable and is definitely one of the bad points. I had to rely on mirrors and situational awareness more but it wasn't so bad to be a deal breaker.

Next, we took it up a windy road to get a sense of the driving feel. I was pleasantly surprised with the way it handled. The body roll was not as bad as I expected and it had the fun to drive factor. I didn't sense the suspension issue the OP mentioned. The steering felt like it had too much play however. It would be comfortable for a long drive but not for a winding road. Then I discovered the option for steering mode, and switched to "Sport". There we go. A world of difference and it finally felt "right". It was also a bit eye opening about how different a Tesla is compared to other cars. It's a computer at heart! It was pretty cool to be able to change something like this by touching a button on a touch screen.

Next was freeway driving. I was paying attention to road noise, wind noise, and overall feel. I was happy that the noise on all levels was not bad at all despite some complaints on the forums. Again, this is probably because I am coming from a car that has lots of tire noise and freeway speeds and translates all the tiny road imperfections into the seat of your pants. The ability to accelerate from 60 to [insert higher speed here] was great as you would expect in an electric car. I definitely felt the high speed acceleration was adequate to get out of certain traffic situations with confidence.

Other points- The seating position will take some getting used to. You cannot see the front "hood" while driving which is weird to me. It wasn't has fun as a M3P to drive but it also was not less fun than other competitors I have driven like a BMW X3. I did not test the rear seats like the OP did but I have sat it the back of a MY in the showroom. I don't have kids so the back seats will probably only be used by friends on trips of 4 hours or less so I am not concerned as much about their comfort for my use case.

My significant other also loved the car and the driving feel. Seeing both interiors in person we like the premium black/white interior best.

The verdict- we are going to keep our order for the MY. The test drive alleviated the biggest concerns I had in terms of the driving dynamics and feel.
 

BLW2

Member
Jul 20, 2020
104
46
Florida
I tested a Y long range yesterday, with my wife riding along and our 3 kids in the back. 15, 12, and 9 years old

On a road trip to Tampa in my wife's Buick Enclave. In the Buick the kids get captain chairs for the 2nd row and don't have to sit 3 across...but there's more leg room in the back of the Y and all three kids agreed they would be just as happy on the trip in it as the Buick.

It was the dark grey paint with black interior. Wife's first comment getting in was to get a lighter colored interior because it was HOT.. (she's not familiar with the options).

It was just a short trip, only about 5 miles, but the heat pump never had time to really chill the cabin.

I tested a model 3 several months back. Not sure which version it was, but I do not think it was performance...although it might have been.

My impression was that the Y didn't seem as quick off the line, but I did not see if it was in chill mode or what. Still plenty fast for me and it was fun to drive.

I love the lack of clutter, but I'm still bothered by the over simplification if that makes sense. It needs just a little analog control....just a few little things like being able to manually adjust the air vents or open the glove box.

Fit and finish looked fine to me.

I think 911 tour's wife nailed it... feels like a dressed up economy car. Nothing wrong with that... except the price point is a bit of a mismatch in that regard.

After my model 3 drive I was surprised how much noise my Silverado makes for going no place when I floor it. Similar impression getting back into the Buick.

As a truck guy, it's perhaps not a 100% perfect match for my wants and needs....but if I'm honest with myself it almost is, considering I rarely really need or use a truck....and given the range and towing capacity it seems like the best EV option out there for me right now.
 

BlindPass

Member
Jul 23, 2020
536
369
Florida
Interesting. The V6 Cayenne we had was way overpriced, although the handling was good. For a commuter or road trip car it was poor. Underpowered, not small or big enough. One of the best Canyon SUVs, but why have a SUV prioritizing that? They must be better now.

The Y seems more like a mini X to me than it does a hatch 3.
 
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KRG21

Member
Mar 15, 2019
200
209
Miami
I love Porsche; I’ve owned 2. Having said that, I had several base V6 Cayenne loaner vehicles over the years and always felt the handling was sloppy and too soft for a Porsche. I liked the Macan handling better. I’ve driven the Model 3 several times and it feels tighter like the Macan so I’m expecting the Y to not be far off. I also like the Tesla seats a lot but maybe I’m lucky that they fit me. I’d be shocked if the Model Y, with it’s much lower center of gravity, has more body roll than a base Cayenne. Perhaps compared to a GTS or something..

To be clean I love the Cayenne for what it is and it’s clearly more premium; it’s just not particularly fun in base spec imo.
 

911-TOUR

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
4
21
Houston, Texas
Base Cayenne v6 is definitely not fast (7+ sec 0-60) - but the suspension tuning is very good (be sure it is aligned well - as this makes a *huge* difference). With the extended range fuel tank (which I have) it gets 600+ miles of range on the highway, which is pretty awesome if you have to travel west Texas like I did before the pandemic. It's also a super vehicle off-road. Yes, the S/GTS/Turbo are more fun. But as my signature suggests ... I have a 911 to scratch that itch. The Cayenne is my "utility" vehicle.

If Tesla fixes the suspension and seats, though - I'm probably switching. The advantages of electric are numerous if you are on-road mainly (as I am now).
 
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ronr9286t

New Member
Mar 8, 2020
2
3
Tucson, AZ
I too test drove a Model Y Long-Range Dual Motor early in the week. I was pleased that Tucson now has a sales and service center, which the sales person told me is due to be expanded in a new facility. I did not post a full test drive report right after the drive as I did not want to come across as a a whiner. I did not carefully examine fit and finish. My drive started on city streets and then onto the interstate. Unlike my Model X test drive almost 4 years ago, the Y seemed relatively "tight" with no wallowing and oversized feeling of the X. As a 4 year EV owner, the instant torque, silent power, and smooth ride are important. In those regards, the Y did not disappoint. On the interstate, the ride was stable and quiet, with little subjective road or wind noise. The ride seemed stable and cornering was relatively flat without drama.

Now on to the disappointments. For a tech-oriented car company that prides itself on being at the "cutting edge", the visibility to the rear and lack of cross traffic awareness tools are surprisingly primitive. The "porthole-like" rear window and the accompanying view is inadequate, and the lack of the simple proximity warning lights in the side mirrors is also surprising. Finally, for a vehicle with a multitude of cameras for the autopilot, relying on an optical rear-view mirror, rather than the digital camera and mirror similar to my Chevy Bolt, which provides a clear, somewhat wide-angle view to the rear, regardless of the load in the rear, including passengers and luggage, is surprising.

These lacks are accentuated by the absence of any information available directly in front of the driver. While the large horizontally oriented screen is to the left of center, it still requires diverted attention. This is unlike the S and the X, which both have vertical screens and additionally some information in the traditional dashboard in front of the driver.

Finally, the lack of the "Birds-Eye" view as a parking aid, even with the presence of sufficient cameras to accomplish this, and in the context of the poor rear visibility, is another disqualifying factor, specially for my wife.

I really wanted to like this vehicle, but the negatives are disqualifying, even in the face many excellent qualities. We'll probably purchase our Bolt and wait for either these deficiencies in the Y to be corrected, or a competitive SUV from another manufacturer.

Ron
 

AhwatukeeDad

Member
Jun 30, 2013
247
150
Phoenix, Arizona
@AhwatukeeDad - Could you elaborate on what you think we are missing? Perhaps this will help others as they consider the car? I'd certainly be interested so that I have more information going into my next test-drive.

No. I was actually reacting to Ron from Tucson and his 360 camera comments vs the sensor suite in the Tesla. His concerns disappear during the first day of ownership in my experience but I argued with some other dude about it relative to the Cybertruck to no avail so I just posted my comment.

I will suggest that you peruse YouTube for the plethora of info on owning a Model 3/Y.

I think the test drive is really a car sales technique to get the buyer to form an emotional attachment to the car to allow the dealer to extract maximum dollars out of the buyer. Not really an issue with Tesla.

You were comparing a Cayenne to a Model Y. You should be looking at a Model X if you are a Cayenne guy... of course the X is another beast altogether. Macan is more Model Y competition. Maybe.

But, you are a Porsche guy so just buy one of those. Nothing else will be good enough for you.

Enjoy
 
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MyJoule

Member
Apr 20, 2014
501
424
Tucson, Az
We drove the same Model Y as Ron did on Friday in Tucson, We noticed a few fit and finish issues with the car (VIN 17xxx), including the "dreaded" paint mismatch with the white - the bumpers were "yellower" than the rest of the car. The pillar speakers appear to be Model 3 pillar speakers, as they didn't match the angles of the A pillar . The interior being the white, with the white exterior was an odd combination in our opinion, that aside, it's a fairly nice car. We are currently Model S owners, so that is our point of reference.

Here's what we didn't particularly like about the Y. The view to the rear is very limited, like most have stated, The side mirrors are a bit small too. My wife gets "car sick" if you enable the camera view, which I admit does help with the visibility issue. Just using the mirrors, makes for a less than desirable "awareness" on the road. The Model Y ride is much stiffer than the Model S with air suspension, I guess I like a more supple ride, (not Buick supple, but more supple than a sports car) Steering was overly tight too- we tried all 3 modes, and they all seemed very "aggressive" compared to the S. Smaller wheelbase may be the reason for that feeling. I think we could get used to that though. We are on the fence as far as the center console is concerned, we like the openness of the yacht floor in the Model S. I agree, it's a bit of an adjustment to have no instrument cluster in front of the driver. But the speedometer was easily observed in the center w/o much difficulty, just had to adjust my head pattern, look slightly down and right rather than straight down. But I'd still like a speedometer in the middle.

Things we did like, first, it's easy to say- it is a Tesla, the acceleration is just as intoxicating on the Y as it is on the S. There is plenty of room in the cabin, the seats while tight, were more comfortable than the Model S (ours is older with the original leather seats) The higher seating position than the S was easier to get in and out of. Lots of leg room in the rear. Lots of head room both front and rear. The large glass roof while not operable like our S is nice. And the tinting from the factory was adequate even here in Tucson in full Sun mid day. The heat pump wasn't noisy on this one either, and it cooled the cabin nicely. The Vents and control was novel and works well. The rear storage areas are plentiful. This was our first time driving newer AP - and it worked well, the demo car has FSD so it was reading stoplights and stop signs, That seemed like it was working pretty well, although they haven't fully engaged it yet, it tells you that there is a light or sign coming up and that you have to take action or it will stop. Could be a problem for some ..

I think for people that don't have a Model S already and are stepping up to EVs for the first time, the Model Y is almost a perfect car, but we really like our Model S. and it's been faithful so far.

Overall, I think we'll probably order a Y, but not quite ready to pull the trigger today- maybe in a few weeks, or maybe we'll wait until air suspension is available. Not sure. but we also haven't decided on color-:) Our daughter just ordered a Model Y in MSM and we would like that color too, but we don't think we should have two identical cars in the family :) So we have to decide on color as well. 1st world problem ;)
 

CyberB

Member
Nov 25, 2019
81
72
Phoenix
So...have been thinking about selling my Cayenne because I don't drive it much now that I am working from home for the rest of the year - with the idea that when things get back to normal I'll pickup an EV for daily / kiddo duties. I decided before making the leap, I should probably go and drive a Tesla Model Y, as that would be on the short list (along with a Taycan CT most likely). I'm glad I did. Here is my short take:

TL;DR: Positives: Fast, great tech. Negatives: Suspension tuning, awful seats.

General:
The car I drove was a Model Y LR Performance *without* the Performance Upgrade Package (no longer sold) with 19" wheels and the standard suspension / brakes. Fit and finish on this car was excellent - probably not Porsche-level initial quality, but not that far off to my eye. Materials were good and on par with my base V6 Cayenne Platinum. No rattles or interior imperfections that I could detect during the drive. The tech and user-interface are already well reviewed elsewhere and so I won't go into that. I personally don't find it to be as "otherworldly" next generation as some folks do, but it is very good and seamless (it has to be). One downside that I didn't appreciate - if you wear glasses for computer work (as I do) but not for driving / distance vision (20/10 here) - the screen presents a bit of an issue. My eyes had a hard time making the transition from outside the cockpit to the fine print on the screen. This forced me to use the voice-command features for even simple things like turning on the wipers in a passing downpour. I might develop some muscle memory for this if I drove the car every day - so not really a big issue I think. But I thought I'd mention it as I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.

Driving:
Car is EV fast, just like the Taycan. That part I like a lot. Traction control was surprisingly good in the heavy passing downpours. One pedal driving implementation is very well executed and much better than the Taycan (which cannot really be driven as a one-pedal car). What surprised me was suspension tuning. Now, it's perhaps not fair to compare the Model Y to a Porsche Cayenne -- but they both weigh about the same amount, and both have fixed geometry suspensions that must manage a lot of mass, so I'm going to do it. Frankly the Cayenne is light-years ahead of the Model Y on this front. My Cayenne has the 21" wheels and sits 10" off the ground - with this setup it is exceptionally well tuned for the road work. The Model Y had 19" wheels and sits 6.4" up - about the only advantage I could discern was the lower center-of-gravity. *Everything* else was worse. The Model Y has significantly more body roll, has mis-calibrated damping for its spring rates (overdamped on initial rebound, then underdamped at longer travel), and an overall "jumpiness" to the character of the suspension that didn't give me a lot of confidence in its long-term livability. It was to the point that I mentioned it to the folks running the test-drive when I returned it to ask if the car needed service. It just didn't feel right. It was fun to drive in a straight line for the most part, but certain sections of pavement and corners left me unimpressed. By contrast my Cayenne is extremely well composed on the same roads and seems to effortlessly feel both planted and compliant - its no 911, but it is "fun". I may need to drive another Model Y to see if this was truly an anomaly or is, in fact, the designed response. On the positive side, steering feel was surprisingly good in "Sport". I felt like they essentially digitally cloned a E92 BMW 3 series rack (which is not a bad thing at all).

Ergos / Human Factors:
Finally, the ergonomics - and I have to say I was on the one hand impressed, and on the other really disappointed. The seating position is very good. Forward visibility very good. The touch panel is within easy reach. The single-vent A/C works surprisingly well. I like the elegance of the minimalist design. Sure, I'd like a few more physical elements for common controls (for things like wipers) - but that's a nit I'd probably get past. The rear window needs a wiper, badly. Rear visibility is marginal-to-poor (and for those that say use the camera - we tried, and it was blurred by rainwater). What I can't get past though are the seats. Front seats would be very good if they only had thigh extensions. This is probably the one thing that prevents me from considering the car. I'm 5'10" with an average build, and the seat bottom feels like a cliff 2/3rds down my thighs. It was uncomfortable after just the 1hr test drive. I think the placement on risers in the Model Y hurts this seat in a way that the Model 3 doesn't bring out ... but still, they need a seat option here with the thigh extension. The rear seats as well are a mess. They have lots of leg-room, but are plywood stiff. My kids would be complaining in 30 minutes. I can't imagine a road-trip in the rear seats. It would be torture, not from the lack of room, from the hardness and lack of support. By contrast here, the Cayenne is in another league (and the Taycan as well). My 14 way seats are 12 hour comfortable and the the rears are as well. Tesla has a massive way to go here. Granted, they are not really aimed at the same segment (utility vs sport/luxury) - but at this price point, they have to do better. And small fixes would be all that is necessary, I think.

All in, I came away a bit disappointed. I wanted to like the Model Y - and I do like the idea - it's a perfect commuter car concept. The execution is 70% of the way there. If they fixed the suspension and the seats I think the buyer pool would increase a great deal. However, as it stands today, my Cayenne is the better vehicle, and the Taycan is a much better EV from a human-factors standpoint. I think my wife put it best: the Model Y felt like a dressed up economy car. Our base Cayenne feels like a purposeful luxury SUV. So, I suppose I'll wait for the Taycan CT / EV Macan ...

I'm glad I got out and gave it a whirl.

cheers!
Clearly you got money to burn since you are looking at Taycan, I don't understand why are you even looking at Model Y where you should be looking at Model X.
 

911-TOUR

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
4
21
Houston, Texas
You were comparing a Cayenne to a Model Y. You should be looking at a Model X if you are a Cayenne guy... of course the X is another beast altogether. Macan is more Model Y competition. Maybe.

But, you are a Porsche guy so just buy one of those. Nothing else will be good enough for you.

Enjoy

Yeah - I guess you are right. I'm a Porsche guy. No other company could ever build a car as great as Porsche. So why even bother.

Seriously, we looked at the X and the S, neither is as compelling as the Y/3 - complexity is the enemy of good. I'm interested in the Y because of the elegance of the engineering (I built F18s as a Mechanical engineer just FYI). I'm telling you, if they can fix the seats and the suspension - they have a winner. If not, then they have a limited car for the zealot crowd. Thats just my 0b10.
 

mardeets

New Member
Jun 21, 2020
4
15
Berkeley
So...have been thinking about selling my Cayenne because I don't drive it much now that I am working from home for the rest of the year - with the idea that when things get back to normal I'll pickup an EV for daily / kiddo duties. I decided before making the leap, I should probably go and drive a Tesla Model Y, as that would be on the short list (along with a Taycan CT most likely). I'm glad I did. Here is my short take:

TL;DR: Positives: Fast, great tech. Negatives: Suspension tuning, awful seats.

General:
The car I drove was a Model Y LR Performance *without* the Performance Upgrade Package (no longer sold) with 19" wheels and the standard suspension / brakes. Fit and finish on this car was excellent - probably not Porsche-level initial quality, but not that far off to my eye. Materials were good and on par with my base V6 Cayenne Platinum. No rattles or interior imperfections that I could detect during the drive. The tech and user-interface are already well reviewed elsewhere and so I won't go into that. I personally don't find it to be as "otherworldly" next generation as some folks do, but it is very good and seamless (it has to be). One downside that I didn't appreciate - if you wear glasses for computer work (as I do) but not for driving / distance vision (20/10 here) - the screen presents a bit of an issue. My eyes had a hard time making the transition from outside the cockpit to the fine print on the screen. This forced me to use the voice-command features for even simple things like turning on the wipers in a passing downpour. I might develop some muscle memory for this if I drove the car every day - so not really a big issue I think. But I thought I'd mention it as I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.

Driving:
Car is EV fast, just like the Taycan. That part I like a lot. Traction control was surprisingly good in the heavy passing downpours. One pedal driving implementation is very well executed and much better than the Taycan (which cannot really be driven as a one-pedal car). What surprised me was suspension tuning. Now, it's perhaps not fair to compare the Model Y to a Porsche Cayenne -- but they both weigh about the same amount, and both have fixed geometry suspensions that must manage a lot of mass, so I'm going to do it. Frankly the Cayenne is light-years ahead of the Model Y on this front. My Cayenne has the 21" wheels and sits 10" off the ground - with this setup it is exceptionally well tuned for the road work. The Model Y had 19" wheels and sits 6.4" up - about the only advantage I could discern was the lower center-of-gravity. *Everything* else was worse. The Model Y has significantly more body roll, has mis-calibrated damping for its spring rates (overdamped on initial rebound, then underdamped at longer travel), and an overall "jumpiness" to the character of the suspension that didn't give me a lot of confidence in its long-term livability. It was to the point that I mentioned it to the folks running the test-drive when I returned it to ask if the car needed service. It just didn't feel right. It was fun to drive in a straight line for the most part, but certain sections of pavement and corners left me unimpressed. By contrast my Cayenne is extremely well composed on the same roads and seems to effortlessly feel both planted and compliant - its no 911, but it is "fun". I may need to drive another Model Y to see if this was truly an anomaly or is, in fact, the designed response. On the positive side, steering feel was surprisingly good in "Sport". I felt like they essentially digitally cloned a E92 BMW 3 series rack (which is not a bad thing at all).

Ergos / Human Factors:
Finally, the ergonomics - and I have to say I was on the one hand impressed, and on the other really disappointed. The seating position is very good. Forward visibility very good. The touch panel is within easy reach. The single-vent A/C works surprisingly well. I like the elegance of the minimalist design. Sure, I'd like a few more physical elements for common controls (for things like wipers) - but that's a nit I'd probably get past. The rear window needs a wiper, badly. Rear visibility is marginal-to-poor (and for those that say use the camera - we tried, and it was blurred by rainwater). What I can't get past though are the seats. Front seats would be very good if they only had thigh extensions. This is probably the one thing that prevents me from considering the car. I'm 5'10" with an average build, and the seat bottom feels like a cliff 2/3rds down my thighs. It was uncomfortable after just the 1hr test drive. I think the placement on risers in the Model Y hurts this seat in a way that the Model 3 doesn't bring out ... but still, they need a seat option here with the thigh extension. The rear seats as well are a mess. They have lots of leg-room, but are plywood stiff. My kids would be complaining in 30 minutes. I can't imagine a road-trip in the rear seats. It would be torture, not from the lack of room, from the hardness and lack of support. By contrast here, the Cayenne is in another league (and the Taycan as well). My 14 way seats are 12 hour comfortable and the the rears are as well. Tesla has a massive way to go here. Granted, they are not really aimed at the same segment (utility vs sport/luxury) - but at this price point, they have to do better. And small fixes would be all that is necessary, I think.

All in, I came away a bit disappointed. I wanted to like the Model Y - and I do like the idea - it's a perfect commuter car concept. The execution is 70% of the way there. If they fixed the suspension and the seats I think the buyer pool would increase a great deal. However, as it stands today, my Cayenne is the better vehicle, and the Taycan is a much better EV from a human-factors standpoint. I think my wife put it best: the Model Y felt like a dressed up economy car. Our base Cayenne feels like a purposeful luxury SUV. So, I suppose I'll wait for the Taycan CT / EV Macan ...

I'm glad I got out and gave it a whirl.

cheers!
Interesting review. I guess it just boils down to different strokes for different folks. A gas-guzzling Porsche Cayenne is about the last car on earth that I would consider driving, much less buying, in this day and age, no matter how well cushioned it made my backside feel. It’s not to say that the MY is perfect, but for me it’s the combination of cutting-edge American technology, excellent driving performance and handling, and the fact that the car is being powered by energy that I am generating from the roof of my house, that made it the clear car of choice for me.
 

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