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PERFORMANCE | 10 out of 10
The Tesla is stupidly, mouthwateringly fast
Drives like a slot car
Car and Driver
No downshifting, no heel-toe trickery or throttle blips and rev matching, just speed
The Detroit News
We exploded from a standstill to merging with moving traffic in about four seconds
One of the finest handling automobiles you can buy
Back in 2006, when Tesla revealed its first Roadster concept, its performance claims seemed simply outrageous. But today, reviews cited by TheCarConnection.com support each and every one of those claims, making the 2010 Tesla Roadster one of the most exciting vehicles offered for sale today.
When most people think of electric vehicles, they picture hybrid-electric vehicles like the quintessential Toyota Prius. But the Tesla Roadster carries no gasoline or engine, being powered by a battery pack driving an electric motor that produces almost limitless torque. The Detroit News confirms that the engine produces "more than 276-pound-feet of torque" and that "full torque kicks [in] instantly." That instant delivery of torque is unique to electric vehicles because they don't need to spool up into a peak power range to deliver their maximum power. Autoblog states that "mid-mounted in the chassis is a 248-hp electric motor" driving the rear wheels and offering explosive acceleration. So much so, in fact, that Bloomberg says, "The size and lightness means it drives like a go-cart on meth." Motor Trend calls the Tesla Roadster's performance "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 company claims the Tesla Roadster will get to 60 mph in less than four seconds and travel 200 miles or more on a charge. Road & Track reviewers say their "testing confirms the first and strongly suggests the second."
Problems in the first several dozen Roadsters with an unreliable two-speed transmission have been addressed in the 2010 Tesla Roadster by fitting what Autoblog calls a "new single-speed fixed-gear Borg-Warner transmission." Motor Trend confirms that its "absolutely progressive, smooth, transparent acceleration" means the Tesla Roadster's "single-speed finally realizes the dream of the electric car".
How long can you drive the 2010 Tesla Roadster, regardless of the fun you're having? Autoblog says "the company is quoting a range of about 244 miles per full charge." But the real number varies with driving style, according to TheCarConnection.com's research, and it will do better around town than at higher speeds. "Range on my test car is disappointing," says Bloomberg's tester. Car and Driver reports that highway driving "drains the pack fast, as it sucks amps and there are fewer opportunities for brake regeneration." Regardless of speed and range, though, the Tesla Roadster is clearly cheaper to run per mile than a conventional automobile. Car and Driver estimates that charging the Roadster costs "about $4 to $7 worth [of electricity] for a single fill-up, depending on your local electricity rates."
Small and sleek, the Tesla Roadster looks like it should hug the road, and early reviews of its handling demonstrate just that. Car and Driver reports it "drives like a slot car." Autoblog says the "non-assisted steering is perfectly-weighted once rolling," while Motor Trend calls that steering "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 strong as well. 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." Autoblog reviewers concur, declaring that the Tesla Roadster's "strong brakes boost confidence during short stops."
Despite limited range, the 2010 Tesla Roadster's acceleration and handling brings thrills that other sportscars struggle to match.