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We love the all-electric Tesla Roadster Sport

By John-Fredrik Wright

Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, is a well-known road. The stretch through Orange County is one of the more beautiful parts; on par with the twisty sections of mid-California. One major difference is of course the amount of traffic on the road; the many lanes of the Orange County stretch often being overcrowded, and the emptiness of the more northern parts begging for some attention. Even if the wilderness is more pronounced up north, and most of the view enjoyed in Orange County is of the beach and Crystal Cove State Park, the occasional bird song can be heard throughout. The problem, however, is that sitting in a car surrounded by other cars (as in the OC), you will most likely not be able to fully enjoy your surroundings.

“Easy!,” you might say, and suggest a convertible. There are plenty of those already on the road, but I have yet to hear birdsong from the driver’s seat of a Porsche convertible, or any other convertible for that matter. Until driving the Tesla Roadster S, I had no idea how it would feel to sit quietly at a stop light in the middle of the road and listen to the birds sing in the trees looming over the street.


Now available with graphite black accents to the front fascia and rear diffuser

The problem is usually the awesome power of the car, escaping in the form of noise from under the hood. Some might argue that the noise of a powerful V8 is part of the image, the look and feel of a performance vehicle. I now disagree.

Put the Tesla Roadster Sport next to basically any sports car available, be it a V6, V8, V10, or even a V12, and it will quietly wait while the big engine flexes its muscles. Then, as the light turns green, the Tesla Roadster Sport will do something I have never felt in a car before, it will accelerate away from the competition in a quiet breeze. The noise heard will first mainly be wind passing over the car’s sleek lines, joined shortly by a high-pitched purr. The feeling is almost indescribable, like being shot from a slingshot in a constant acceleration likened to that felt in a fighter jet. The noisy competition is seen in the rear-view mirror, screaming to keep up, which is always a great feeling.

Now, the Tesla has a top speed of about 125 mph, so eventually the roar of the ICE’s (internal combustion engines) will pay off, but how many roads are long enough for that anyway?

After getting into the Tesla Roadster Sport, which the first time is basically a matter of falling into the seat and trusting that it will catch you, a quick glance around doesn’t really give any hint that you are not in a “normal” car. But then again, in a few years, who knows what normal might be? Looking around, there are buttons for shifting between park, drive and reverse, instead of the stick most of us are used to. The radio looks like a standard radio, nothing fancy. But then, what is this?, a screen we are not used to! Relax, if pilots can handle a multitude of screens and gauges, you can handle one extra LCD screen. Plus, it might tell you something you didn’t already know; like how many Gs you’re pushing. G-forces? Really? This really is like flying a fighter jet!

Starting the engine reveals nothing out of the ordinary, until you try to start it again thinking that you had failed the first time. I guess that’s why the car gives you a little “ding-dong”, notifying you that it is on… just drive. Coasting along, one might forget that the car you’re in is not being propelled by explosions, and that all the power the car has, is available in an instant. You are easily reminded though; a touch of the gas pedal, and you’re off!

The feeling of being pushed into your seat from such quick acceleration never gets old. Finding a hole, and changing lanes into it, is easy, just give her a little gas (or whatever it now should be called) and you’ll catch up effortlessly.

Unbelievable. I guess it can be likened to the feeling you have the first tenth of a second when you floor it in a bumper car at Disney Land; I takes off! Well, the Tesla takes off, and it keeps going.

Now, if you were getting sick of me preaching about the unbelievable whiplash acceleration the Tesla is capable of, let me settle down and see if it qualifies as a real mode of transportation, not just an unbelievably fast toy (sorry, that was the last time, I promise).

I know I am in an electric car when people step out in front of me in the alley. Literally turning around with an expression that can only mean, “where did you come from?”. The funny thing is though, as the other boys in the parking lot turn heads by making noise, the Tesla turns even more by not saying anything.

As far as using the Tesla Roadster Sport as an all-around car, it would need to be a single person or a couple without children, as there are only two seats. However, there is a trunk, and for you golfers; it’s said that it will hold a golf bag. So I guess not only could you drive this car to basically everywhere your daily duties might need to go, you can also drive it to the golf course, or take a trip down Highway 1 and enjoy the serenity of a truly relaxing drive.

Another upside I noticed pretty quickly was the lack of e-guilt (environmental guilt) I had when flooring the accelerator. Yeah, sure the range decreases when the driving style is more aggressive, but with all the miles of range available (range on full charge: 245 miles), a couple of miles drop was no problem. From an environmental standpoint, it doesn’t make a difference if you are driving nicely or not (assuming you are charging with green electricity), so now fun doesn’t have to be bad for the environment. Pretty cool.

Having driven the Tesla Roadster Sport, my expectations of the Tesla Model S are now sky-high. If Tesla transfers some of the excitement found in the Roadster, the Model S should be an amazing vehicle, yet a practical family car. And green at that!

For more information about Tesla products, go to teslamotors.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle:
Tesla Roadster Sport

Price:
The Roadster’s base price is $109,000 (or $101,500 after a $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit); the Roadster Sport’s base price is $128,500 (or $121,000 after the tax credit).

EPA fuel economy:
According to EPA tests, the Roadster can travel 244 miles on a single charge. Because the charger is built on-board the Roadster, it plugs into a conventional 110-v or 220-v electrical outlet. A completely empty battery charges in as little as four hours. Tesla says it costs less than $8 to charge the Roadster’s battery pack from zero (in California, price of energy differs amongst the states).

Engine:
Electric

Battery pack:
Liquid-cooled 6,831 lithium-ion cells designed for electric vehicle propulsion.

Horsepower:
288 at 5000-6000 rpm

Torque:
273 pound-feet at 0-5400 rpm

Transmission:
1-speed direct drive

Drive configuration:
Rear-wheel drive

Suspension:
Double wishbone front suspension
Double wishbone rear suspension
Four-wheel independent suspension
Front and rear stabilizer bars

Wheels & tires:
17 x 7.5 in. alloy wheels
225/45R17 performance tires

Dimensions:
Length (in.) 155.1
Width (in.) 72.9
Height (in.) 44.4
Curb Weight (lbs) 2723

Performance
0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 125 mph (electronically-governed)

What’s New:

In July 2010, Tesla announced the Roadster 2.5, the fourth iteration of the Roadster. Enhancements include: Exterior design changes to the front fascia and rear diffuser, directional forged wheels available in both silver and black, new seats with improved comfort, more supportive bolsters and new lumbar support system, power control hardware that enables spirited driving in exceptionally hot climates, an optional 7-inch touchscreen display with back-up camera, improved interior sound reduction, including new front fender liner material to make the cabin quieter,

Availability:
Now

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