In almost three hours of spirited driving, mostly on twisty, hilly roads, our Roadster was resolutely eager. We didn’t do formal timing tests, but in performance mode, the quoted 3.9-second 0-60 time was completely credible. The great thing about electric drive is that the torque is all there at any speed. We used the sheer, raw, relentless power over and over again, just for the hell of it. The instant in which 70 mph turned into 90 mph proved particularly alluring.
The 2009 Tesla Roadster is so powerful that you need to make sure it’s pointed exactly where you intend to go when you floor it. Otherwise, it straightens abruptly and you’ll accelerate right through the outside of your curve. Can you say “lift-off tuck-in”?
Contrary to popular wisdom, a Tesla Roadster isn’t completely silent. The battery cooling system whirs behind the driver, and the motor hums on acceleration like a “Star Wars” flying scooter. But above 30 mph, those sounds are drowned out by wind noise.
The Roadster’s passenger compartment is larger, and easier to get into, than that of the Elise, but that doesn’t mean there’s a vast expanse of space. Seating space is narrow, and my right knee rested uncomfortably against the hard central spine that held the climate control switches and the “gear” lever. Worst of all, the Tesla Roadster has zero storage space, except for one very slippery curved metal lip running transversely below the dash above the passenger’s knees. We don’t expect cup holders, but door pockets for papers and maps would add a lot.
There’s a wide, shallow storage space under the rear deck, behind the battery pack. We advise soft luggage. Inside is the charging cord for standard 110-Volt power (a $600 option); a full recharge can take up to 8 hours. The $3,000 high-voltage system that many owners will likely install in their garages cuts that to 3.5 hours, and a partial “fill” takes less yet. One irksome practice: Any recharging cord costs extra.