Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Tesla Roadster Review



 Tesla RoadsterModel/Engine
Roadster 375
volt air cooled electric motor


economy combined:

motorist out there who is not convinced by the potential of electric cars
should be made to drive the Tesla.

incredible acceleration, which resembles that of a spaceship switching into
hyperdrive, should be enough to convince even the most entrenched doubters that
electric cars may actually have advantages over petrol and diesel.

it’s electric, it comes complete with the ability of electric motors to produce
maximum torque from 0 rpm. In this case that means 276 lbs/ft between 0 and
4,500 rpm. The motor will then keep spinning strongly to 14,000 rpm with peak
power of 248 bhp between 4,500 and 8,500 rpm. This instant access to torque
makes the Roadster very quick – but it’s the feeling generated by the maximum
torque, 100% of the time, that sets it apart.

The Tesla
Roadster accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. The Roadster Sport, which
we drove, is even quicker, at 3.7 seconds. 0.2 seconds may not sound much, but
in this territory, it is. The acceleration doesn’t tail off at high speed
either. At 100mph around Millbrook’s high speed bowl, the responsiveness was
still amazing, and it felt like it would be all the way up to the 125mph top

So apart
from incredible acceleration, how does it drive? Because it’s based on a Lotus
Elise you’d expect it to drive like a Lotus, and mostly it does. You’re low
down, close to the road, and with its rear-wheel drive and mid-engined
configuration, it handles corners very well. However the Tesla weighs 1222kg
whereas as the Elise weighs 860kg, so ultimately it’s not as nimble as the

The Tesla
makes up for its slightly dulled responses by having zero ‘tailpipe’ emissions,
and it looks fantastic. It’s as easy to drive as Americans – the main market or
the Tesla – would hope. There’s a button for go, and a button for stop, and of
course no clutch. The only challenge Americans might have is the exercise of
having to clamber in over the huge sills and insert themselves into the tight
driver’s compartment, and then having to reverse the process to escape.

The Tesla
also has a roof that can be removed, providing open-air, zero emission electric
motoring. Tesla claims that its Roadster is twice as efficient as a Prius, and six
times as efficient as the best sports cars while producing one-tenth of the

based on the Elise, Tesla says that the Roadster shares less than 7% of its
parts with the Lotus, and the company carries out its own final assembly and
powertrain installation in California. Some key differences are the bespoke
carbon fibre bodywork, reworked rear suspension and slight increase in size.

In order to
achieve the ground-breaking performance, Telsa has used advanced batteries.
Lithium ion may be commonplace in phones and laptops, but in cars they remain
cutting-edge technology. Thanks to these batteries the Roadster has a 244 mile
range on the American EPA test cycle – which is comparable with some
petrol-powered performance cars – and Tesla claims the batteries will last
around 100,000 miles.

At the
moment the Tesla is the only electric sports car available, although others are
planned or in development. Originally launched in America, it’s now available
in the UK, and of course an electric supercar comes with an electric supercar
price premium – £94,000 plus VAT, or £110,000 plus VAT for the Roadster Sport.
Go visit the showroom in London.

Tesla is a
great example of disruptive technology. The big names in the motor industry
have been ploughing along with the internal combustion engine for decades, then
suddenly a new start-up company appears from nowhere with no experience in
making cars and it produces a mind-blowing electric sports car on its first
attempt. Of course this may be helped by the fact that the team behind Tesla
has been successful in other business areas, making their first big successes
in the dot com boom.

Roadster however is not the end of the story, as Tesla is launching an electric
sports saloon next, the Model S, which also looks fantastic, has a 300 mile
range, and is likely to drive equally well. Although it looks like a four
seater sports saloon, Tesla claims it will carry seven people (five adults and
two children); it will cost $49,900 and deliveries start in 2011 in America.

So it’s
back to where we started. The Tesla is currently the flagship for how electric
cars can drive. OK, so the budget end of electric cars won’t have this
performance, but it’s only likely to be a matter of time before costs come
down, performance and range increases, and we’ll all be driving around in
electric cars that are as enjoyable to drive as the Tesla.

Fuel economy
extra urban: N/A

Fuel economy
urban: N/A

emissions: very low/potentially zero*

Green rating:
VED band A – £0

Weight: 1222

Company car
tax liability (2009/10): 9%

£94,000 +VAT (From £94,000 +VAT to £110,100 +VAT)

group: TBC

Power: TBC

Max speed:
125 mph

0-62mph: 3.9 seconds