Infolinks Ads


Saturday, 18 June 2011

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5: New looks, wheels, seats, less noise

Tesla's on a roll, it seems. Two days after its successful public stock offering, the company has released details of the latest updates to its Roadster electric sports car--known as "Roadster 2.5" after software-release numbering. The 2.5 version sports some new styling at front and rear, including a new front fascia 
After spending an afternoon with the world's first volume produced electric sports car, it strikes me as something of a conundrum. On the one hand, I respect it for the accomplishment it represents, but at the same time the limitations it imposes give me pause.
The afternoon I spent with the Roadster, we covered 143 miles and it had 28 miles of range left when I took it back. Which theoretically means I could've driven it 171 miles in my admittedly uneconomical fashion on the charge it had when its key was handed over to me. Thing is, I could not have driven it to where I did and back like that if I'd s Tesla.
As a sports car, that limitation is something of a buzz-kill for me. However, taken as a commuter, it has the potential to be absolutely wonderful. Even if my job were 60 miles away from my home, it'd still have more than enough range to bring me back--on the same charge. And that's not even considering I'd Lotus Elise certainly have a place to plug it in while at work.
As a commuter car, the Tesla Roadster would be pretty tough to live with though. Based as it is on the  and inheriting that car's notoriously unfriendly ergonomics, contorting myself to get in and out of the Roadster to go to and from work everyday would get old fast. Remarkably, the thing it ought to be good at is fraught with peril while the thing it is good at is fraught with impracticality.
And that's before we even consider the price.
As tested, the Roadster I drove carried a $150,000+ sticker. For that kind of money there are more than a few truly amazing  sports cars you can drive wherever you like without the need to limber up before trying to get into them. Also, while the Tesla is low and sleek, when the road gets twisty it isn't exactly as swoopy as those other cars either.
You can dance with the Roadster when the music's hot, but you have to be very capable of managing understeer. The first time I tried to turn the Tesla aggressively into a corner, all that weight in its hind parts, coupled with the unexpected heaviness of its steering found me running considerably wide of the apex I'd aimed for.
Despite its diminutive size, and familial relationship to the go kart-like Lotus, the Tesla prefers to be set up for a corner as if it is considerably larger than it actually is and finessed through. Do that, you can run quite quickly, but it's conundrum time again. Here's a small sports car that wants to be driven like a larger GT car.
The Roadster is quite stable at triple digit speeds and its combination of regenerative and friction brakes are more than up to the task--absolutely fade-free and genuinely confidence-inspiring. I also like the way the strong regenerative braking helps slow the car, as downshifting would do, when entering a turn. This has the added advantage of generating more juice too.

The interior of the car is lovely, with exceptional quality in evidence throughout. The backlit pushbuttons for the single speed transmission's functions are slick and the iPod dock at the edge of the center stack is pure genius.
Again, for the accomplishment it represents, the Tesla Roadster deserves our unfettered adulation--rousing applause even. It has attracted considerable interest to electric cars, and some say it even embarrassed GM into creating the Volt. The viability of the Roadster's powertrain attracted partnerships from established players like Panasonic, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota. As a marketing device for the Tesla Company it is an absolute success. Taken on its own as a sports car though--in this writer's opinion--the Tesla Roadster leaves some things to be desired.


Post a Comment