Test Driving a Tesla Roadster

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Do you...
  • Love the acceleration of a very quick roller coaster launch, like Polterguiest or The Increadable Hulk?
  • Like a car that listens intently for your actions and responds instantly to them?
  • Appreciate ultra-light cutting edge materials and being able to lift your hood with your pinky?
  • Like the idea of a no maintenance car?  Except for feeding it sticky tires...:-)
  • Love the idea of filling up your car with clean electricity vs. dirty petroleum?
Then you'll LOVE the Tesla Roadster...I certainly did!

I had a chance to drive a Roadster on my visit to the new Tesla Dealership in Dania, FL near Miami at the beginning of January.  Here is a short list of things I liked and disliked about the car...

  • It's electric (clean!!!)
  • More than 200 miles on a charge!
  • Instant, smooth, silent, linear, and strong power...simply breathtaking!
  • Lifting the accelerator slows the car quickly...like you are in a lower gear.  The best part is that the braking energy goes back into your batteries vs. wasted as heat...and this means less brake maintenance!  Regenerative braking rocks!
  • Go-cart like handling.  If this car had power-steering, one good sneeze could equal a lane change.
  • Hand-built and unique feeling to the car.  The cockpit was well laid out and had good "character"

  • Not easy to get into or out of if you're tall.  Although I was comfortable when I got in, it's not easy getting my long legs into the car (I'm 6"2").  Your "significant other" probably won't like being a copilot often since it's work to get in it "gracefully".
  • Since the Roadster doesn't have power steering, you have to use some elbow grease to get it to turn...but you get used to it quickly.
  • The heated seats needed a turbo button.  Heating your body with the seats is more efficient than heating the cockpit...and easier on the battery life.
  • Not impressed with the user interface for the onboard computer, but Tesla probably knows this based on the improvements they're putting in the "S".

Charging the Roadster
  • Slow Charge: The base Tesla only ships with a 110v charge cable, which will fully charge the car in about 24h.  You could probably get away with primarily using this if you just used the car daily for short drives (<50m) and only had to top off the Roadster's charge each night.  
  • Medium Charge: If you wanted to fully charge the Roadster in about 8 hours, you could purchase their Mobile Charger for $1000 and plug it into a 240v Dryer outlet.  This is the charging method of choice for cross country travel with your Roadster.
  • Fast Charge: If you want to fully charge your Roadster in 3.5 hours, then you'll need to pony up for the $3,000 fast charger from Tesla and then pay an electrician to plumb it a 240V/100A circuit to feed it...which could be expensive ($500+) since that's a lot of electrons and most homes only have a 200A service to start with.

Driving the Roadster
Here's a video of what it's like to be in the Roadster during a drive...including what it sounds like.  In addition to a 0-60 run, I got to overtake other cars twice, so you can get an idea of how quickly it accelerates...and how quickly it slows down. 

Thanks to the crew at Tesla South Florida for the hospitality and test drive! 

Tesla South Florida
1949 Tigertail Boulevard
Dania Beach, FL 33004


  • Singapore to Kuala Lumpur

    I really don't think anyone has put it that way before!. Your blog is definitely worth a read if anyone finds it. I'm lucky I did because now I've got a whole new view of this. Thank you!