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PERFORMANCE | 10 out of 10
We exploded from a standstill to merging with moving traffic in about four seconds
No downshifting, no heel-toe trickery or throttle blips and rev matching, just speed
The Detroit News
Drives like a slot car
Car and Driver
Back when Tesla first announced the Tesla 2009 Roadster concept, they made what were, at the time, some pretty outlandish performance claims. Now, however, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com support each and every one of those claims, confirming the 2009 Tesla Roadster as one of the most exciting vehicles on the road today.
The Tesla Roadster is a wholly unconventional sportscar. When most people think of electric vehicles, they picture the dual-mode hybrids popularized by the Toyota Prius, but the Tesla Roadster is different in that it is powered solely by an electric engine, with no gasoline alternative onboard. Autoblog states that "mid-mounted in the chassis [of the Tesla Roadster] is a 248-hp electric motor" that drives the rear wheels and provides explosive acceleration. Motor Trend says that "the performance is an extension of your brain: the amount you've squeezed your foot is directly related to the proportion of its surge the motor delivers." The Detroit News reports that the engine produces "more than 276-pound-feet of torque" and that "full torque kicks [in] instantly." The instant torque delivery is unique to electric vehicles because they don't need to spool up into a power range to deliver peak power.
Tesla says that the Roadster will hit 60 mph in roughly four seconds and travel well over 200 miles on a charge. Road & Track reviewers say that their "testing confirms the first and strongly suggests the second."
The first versions of the Tesla Roadster to come out of Northern California featured a two-speed transmission that has since proven incredibly problematic. Fortunately, Tesla addresses that issue on the 2009 Tesla Roadster by replacing it with what Autoblog calls a "new single-speed fixed-gear Borg-Warner transmission." Motor Trend is pleased to report that the Tesla Roadster's "single-speed finally realizes the dream of the electric car: absolutely progressive, smooth, transparent acceleration."
So the 2009 Tesla Roadster is clearly a blast to drive, but just how long can you drive it? TheCarConnection.com's research shows that the number varies according to driving style, but Autoblog says that "the company is quoting a range of about 244 miles per full charge." Unlike a conventional vehicle, the Tesla Roadster actually gets better mileage off the highway, as Car and Driver reports that highway driving "drains the pack fast, as it sucks amps and there are fewer opportunities for brake regeneration." No matter how you drive it, though, the Tesla Roadster is cheaper per mile than a conventional automobile. According to Car and Driver estimates, charging the Tesla Roadster costs "about $4 to $7 worth [of electricity] for a single fill-up, depending on your local electricity rates."
The sleek little Tesla Roadster looks like it should carve canyon roads with ease, and early reviews of its handling show it won't disappoint. Autoblog says the "non-assisted steering is perfectly-weighted once rolling," while Car and Driver reports it "drives like a slot car." Motor Trend raves that the steering is "direct, light under way and utterly precise. Most of all, it communicates road feedback in a league ahead of the usual big-gun sports cars." Braking performance is impressively strong as well; Autoblog reviewers declare that the Tesla Roadster's "strong brakes boost confidence during short stops," while Car and Driver informs us that the "regenerative braking...slows the car so sharply that you can sail down mountain roads without touching the left pedal."
Driving the 2009 Tesla Roadster brings thrills unmatched by any other sportscar available today.