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Tesla has delivered on its promise: The 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 is truly the first green alternative to more than 100 years of fast cars powered by gasoline. The Roadster’s classic two-seat shape, complete with soft top, provides what can only be called kick-ass performance without a tailpipe, emissions, or a fuel tank.
The 2011 Roadster has been updated to “Version 2.5,” in Tesla’s Silicon Valley argot. This third model year for the low-production Roadster includes a restyled front end, more comfortable seats, better noise insulation, and an optional backup camera. Otherwise, it’s the same all-electric Roadster whose performance has earned raves from reviewers all over the globe.
Based on a heavily revised platform borrowed from the Lotus Elise, the Tesla Roadster was first unveiled in 2006. Volume deliveries began early in 2009 at a price of $109,000 for the standard Roadster, and $128,500 for the even quicker Roadster Sport.
The Tesla Roadster will always be a low-volume vehicle. Tesla is moving closer to introduction of its Model S all-electric mid-size sports sedan, now planned to occur before the end of 2012. But Roadster production winds down in December 2011, once an assembly contract with England’s Lotus ends with a total of 2,400 cars built.
As a proof of concept to show what a modern electric can offer, the Tesla Roadster will go down in automotive history whether or not Tesla Motors survives as an independent company. The Roadster did more to update the image of the electric car than any other single vehicle. And it did it using the best of all possible arguments: It’s truly, impressively, addictively fun to drive.
- Acceleration on a par with most supercars
- Smooth, stunning rush of power
- Green image, green credentials
- Further refinement to seats and noise suppression
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- Range falls far below 200 miles if driven hard
- Minimal storage space anywhere
- Recharging cord shamefully costs extra
- Appearance options abound; extra features don't