2009 Tesla Roadster Photo
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Quick Take
The 2009 Tesla Roadster delivers jaw-dropping green performance and handling in a classic open two-seater, but the aggressive driving it encourages may cut range to less than 200 miles. Read more »
7.4 out of 10
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TheCarConnection.com’s editors prepared this review from hands-on experience with the new 2009 Tesla Roadster. TheCarConnection.com will also produce a full review, including opinions from other professional sources, as more road tests of the 2009 Tesla Roadster become available.


  • Supercar acceleration
  • Smooth rush of power at any speed
  • Excellent roadholding
  • Green credibility and awareness factor


  • Range below 200 miles when driven hard
  • Primitive amenities
  • Utter lack of storage in cockpit
  • Recharging cord costs $600 to $3,000 extra

The 2009 Tesla Roadster is an electric-powered two-seat sports car based around some components of the Lotus Elise. Unveiled to the public in 2006 and originally promised for delivery in early 2008, the all-electric Tesla Roadster is finally in production.

The Tesla’s audacious acceleration—a factory quoted 0-to-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds—comes courtesy of a 185-kilowatt (248-horsepower) electric motor powered by a 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack, weighing 990 pounds and mounted just behind the driver—where the engine would be in the Elise. Inside it are 6,831 lithium-ion cells like the ones that power laptop computers, plus a great deal of instrumentation, circuitry, cooling, and careful engineering to prevent any mishaps if a cell goes bad. Behind the battery pack sits the electric motor, coupled to the transmission that drives the rear wheels.

Although the 2009 Tesla Roadster is a completely new model, it keeps quite closely with the proportions of the Lotus Elise on which it’s based. But a little added length, combined with its sleeker snout and smooth, contoured flanks leading into the rear wheel wells—in place of the Elise’s prominent side air intake—give it an overall look that’s quite different from some angles.

The result is a low-slung, racy sports car with a radiator visible through the slots in the front decklid. The 2009 Roadster has carbon fiber panels, but they could just as easily be steel or fiberglass—there’s nothing to indicate their unique construction.

Next: Interior / Exterior »
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