If the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 has anything in common with some of its gasoline counterparts, it’s a tight cabin and a rough ride. Tesla has already redesigned its seats, twice, though tricky maneuvering is still required to get in and out. Don’t try it in a short skirt.
For 2011, the seats have been given larger bolsters and a new lumbar support system. Tesla has also made several modifications to cut cabin noise, including new front fender liners with an acoustic component that helps to suppress tire noise. Last year, the company also recalibrated the suspension to be more forgiving over rough road surfaces.
Fit and finish of the latest cars is improved over earlier examples, and certainly the interior appearance matches the car’s upscale price and performance far better. The two-tone leather seats are more stylish than the early Roadster buckets, which one reviewer memorably said seemed to “consist of little more than black paint on the fire wall.”
Seats are heated, a more efficient way to give driver and passenger a feeling of warmth while reducing the power-sucking appetite of a resistance heater for the whole cabin. Five glowing buttons on the console let the driver choose among park, drive, reverse, neutral, and traction control.
Cargo space is still at a premium, however. You’ll find no door pockets, cup holders, cubbies, or bins. And the trunk, a full-width carbon-fiber tray behind the battery pack, can hold either luggage or the folded cloth top, but probably not both at the same time—unless your travel kit consists of only a small and flexible day pack.
While electric drive is indisputably quieter than a gasoline engine, but the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 is far from silent. The motor makes a low whir, especially when wound out for performance. And the canvas top does little to muffle wind noise when in place. Still, the Roadster has seen several rounds of revisions to its sound insulation, meaning that this year’s cars are likely to be more pleasant than examples of two years ago. That said, they are hardly as hushed as Rolls-Royce motorcars, nor should they be.