The Tesla roadster has captured the hearts of all environmentally friendly car buffs. It offers something truly unique in a world where car models are often differentiated only by the sheet metal that covers them or a few dozen maximum horsepower. The Tesla Roadster is the first true electric sports car. It is loosely based on the Lotus Elise platform but in place of its engine, it sports a powerful electric motor. This motor is powered by a 7000 cell lithium ion battery pack.
The two biggest complaints about electric vehicles in the past have often performance and range. The Tesla addresses both of these, with 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds and a range of 220 miles. The battery can be recharged in 6 hours, or 3.5 with the quick charge system. The only real caveat about liking the Tesla is the price of admission at 100000, that's right, to drive green and go fast, you have to pay 6 figures to do so. That combined with problems associated with the choice of the Elise as a starting point can be daunting.
Bodystyle: 2-door roadster
Power: Air-cooled AC electric motor
Models: Roadster, Roadster Sport
This past year has seen the introduction of the Roadster Sport, which is a no-holds-barred, extreme performance edition of the basic Roadster. For its $19,500 price premium, the Roadster S includes 8.1 percent more torque, an adjustable suspension (10-positions for the shock absorbers, 3 settings for the anti-roll bars), forged alloy wheels wrapped by sticky Yokohama AO48 tires.
While the Roadster began with a heavy influence from the Lotus Elise upon which it is roughly based, the Tesla now contains only traces of the Elise DNA as Tesla has developed its own edgy, unique styling (indeed, the new Lotus Evora could be seen as aping some of Tesla's thinking).
The Roadster's cabin is a tight fit and a struggle to get in and out of, but is actually longer than that of the Lotus Elise it was patterned after. Tesla's material's quality is quickly improving, moving from the kit-car realm of it prototypes to quite respectable now. Unusually, changing from park to drive or reverse involves simply pushing buttons.
Performance & Handling
Few cars can out-handle the grippy, firmly-sprung Roadster, and fewer still can out-accelerate it. Consider: The base Roadster can hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds; the Roadster Sport in a sizzling 3.7. Past that speed the constraints imposed by the Roadster's single-speed transmission cause its acceleration to quickly taper off -- but by then, you're long gone. Our only desire would be for a little more feedback about what the chassis is doing.
While the Tesla Roadster meets all required safety standards and includes dual front airbags, being a battery electric vehicle raises some unique safety questions. Is there a chance of shock in the rain? What happens with that giant battery in a crash? Despite the high voltages surging beneath the Tesla's bodywork, all of these issues have been extensively studied and addressed.
EPA Fuel Economy
NOT RATED BY THE EPA
- Fantastic acceleration
- Nimble handling
- Other-worldly whine while accelerating
- Passing gas stations
- Low cost of electrical energy
You Won't Like
- High price
- Difficulty getting in and out
- Recharge times
- No long trips
All the promise and pitfalls of battery-electric propulsion
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi R8
- Lotus Evora
- Porsche Boxster Spyder