Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport review
By Tim Stevens posted Apr 1st 2011 4:30PM
Gadgets come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s safe to say this is a big’un. Sure, it isn’t exactly portable in the traditional sense, and no 24 month contract is going to make it fit into our budget, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a place in your life. It’s the Roadster Sport, the latest addition to the Tesla family and released to the world last summer. Version 2.5 is the fastest yet on the road, leaping from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds yet still getting a rated 245 miles of range.
Of course, we all know that rated range doesn’t necessarily equate to real-world range, and real-world car performance doesn’t always live up to what you read in the magazines, either. Indeed in our testing we weren’t able to make it the full 245 miles that Tesla says you can in a roadster, nor did we come close to approaching this thing’s 125mph top speed. But, after spending plenty of hours wedged inside the cockpit of this $128,500 sporty EV we did walk away mighty impressed, not only with how it drove but in how it sounded. Read on, and you might just be too.
Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport
Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport review
Typically we’d do a set of unboxing pictures for a high-profile new gadget like this but, well, deploying this thing required only backing it out of the Tesla showroom on West 25th and onto the street – through a doorway with about an inch to spare on either side. Thankfully this was a task handled for us – just driving this on a city street felt challenging enough, thanks in large part to the color.
Telsa calls it “Lightning Green” but “loud” will do just fine. Most little cars disappear in NYC. Not this one. The most jaded of hipsters and poshest of businessmen turned their head to look at this curious little evergreen thing that zipped through intersections without making a noise. If you want to be subtle, pick a different color. Maybe a nice shade of silver.
It’s so quiet because it is, of course, a battery-powered electric car. There’s no hint of hybrid trickery here, not a whiff of combusted fuel, just a big lump filled with lithium ions tucked behind the seat and a hand-wound electric motor slung down behind the rear wheels. That 375 volt motor puts down 295lb-ft of torque in Sport guise (273 if you go for the $19,000 cheaper base Roadster) and 288HP. It has a torque curve so flat you could build a boat on it.
That’s paired with a 53kWh li-Ion battery pack that contains 6,831 cells and is about the same size as a chest freezer. It slots into the chassis where your average Lotus Elise would get a Toyota-sourced 1.8 liter engine, this car sharing a frame and a lot of DNA with that little roadster from Hethel. Tesla indicates that less than 10 percent of the two cars are actually shared, but it sure feels like a lot more. That’s not a bad thing, mind.
The result is a two-seater with a removable fabric lid (there’s an optional carbon hardtop) that has a wheelbase of 92.6-inches and a curb weight of 2,723lb. That’s over 700lbs more than an American-spec Elise, but its 288HP does compare quite favorably to that the other’s 189. And while you might think the lack of internal explosions piped through a sports-tuned exhaust might make for a tiresomely quiet affair, think again. Driving this car sounds like cruising around in Blade Runner, but you don’t have to debate the implications of origami unicorns. This is for real.
Tesla Roadster startup and twisty road by TimStevens
Taking a seat