All photos by Agaton Strom
As of now, the Tesla Roadster is the undisputed king of electric cars--and not just because it's the only highway-ready EV in serial production in the nation. It's the one EV that everyone wants: greens, auto enthusiasts, pretty much anyone susceptible to the allure of an immaculately designed sports car. So, pretty much anyone. Yesterday, I got to drive it. Yes, TreeHugger finally got to get behind the wheel of the Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5. Here's the lowdown on the first test drive:Not to get overly breathless right off the bat, but the honest truth is that driving the Tesla Roadster met or defied expectations in almost every way. First off, it was just as sleek and sexy, just as much the tractor beam for passerby's gazes parked by the curb on my block as it's been in auto shows around the world.
You probably don't need any updates on its looks -- so let's get right to the drive. The Tesla rep brought the car to my door, so I spent the next hour and half turning heads around Brooklyn. Here's a quick video of my initial reactions (so I'm not exactly eloquent; I was kind of like this kid. Plus, driving and narrating at the same time is hard):
But there's no need to be verbose here: The Roadster drives beautifully. It accelerates like an explosive-yet-controlled dream; smooth and steady, never jerky or over-responsive. The biggest surprise I had driving the Roadster was how hefty, and substantial it felt. Despite having read numerous reviews to the contrary, I somehow expected the Roadster to feel lighter, more fragile or finicky. It was neither. The Roadster handled great, taking turns nice and fluidly.
As for that famed acceleration, the stats struck me as accurate: I didn't run any scientific tests, but it got 0-60 in 3.7-3.8 seconds by my best count. In fact, there's one particular on-ramp on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which literally leaves nothing but a stop sign between you and full-speed freeway traffic (any Brooklynites ever get on the 278 going West at Atlantic Ave?), that I'd always wished I had something like the Roadster to floor it on. And that's exactly what I did. Juvenile or no, it was pretty damn gratifying.
Another minor surprise: You could really feel the drag from the regenerative brakes after you stopped accelerating at lower speeds -- as the Tesla rep remarked, you don't even need to hit the brakes to stop if you're going slow enough. She was right. This did strike me as a little peculiar, but it actually proved pretty intuitive for around town driving.
The interior was comfortable, the controls intuitive. It was quiet, too; only a faint hum was discernible. The touch navigation system wasn't as cutting edge as I'd expect to see in a Roadster; I'd take my the Google Maps GPS on my Droid over the somewhat clunky, time-consuming interface in a snap. Everything else was immaculate, however -- comfy seats, the sleek center console, the stylishly iconic gear-shifting buttons:
Here's the Tesla Motors rep on the difference between the Roadster and the Roadster Sport:
And here's a bumpy 360 vid of the car:
Simply put, this is an amazing piece of machinery. Clearly, I will never be able to afford one of these -- but the electric auto world couldn't ask for a better high end model to be its flagship car.
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