Tesla Roadster Test Drive – Smooth and Stealth

By John Addison (1/20/11)

It’s easy to slide behind the steering wheel of this Tesla Roadster because the top’s removed for this January day. I don’t mind. It’s 70 degrees here in Palm Springs, California. A perfect day for a test drive.

Tesla gives me the ground rules for the drive – have fun. Yes, I can floor it if I pay for my own traffic ticket. I can take tight turns. Hit the brakes hard. Yes, I can go 20 mph over that speed bump that would trash many low-profile speed bumps.

Handling S-curves is smooth and effortless even though this sports car has no power steering. I go over a speed bump at 20 mph. No scraping sounds. No damage. These shocks are worthy of a race track.

On the highway, I press lightly on the accelerator and I’m going 60. Yes, the Roadster 2.5 can go zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. There was no screeching tires, no whining engine, and no swerving. Just a light touch and stealth speed.

Any downsides? The Roadster that I’m driving cost over $120,000. The premium stereo is extra, as is the backup camera. Yes, only two seats and very little cargo. You’ve got room for your golf clubs, a travel bag, and your attaché. Unlike the Nissan LEAF the GPS display will not show you nearby charging stations, but the Roadster has a 245 mile range between charges thanks to the light aluminum frame, carbon fiber body, and 56 kWh lithium battery pack. One owner set a record of over 350 miles. The Roadster that I’m driving went from Orange County to Los Angeles to Palm Springs on one charge.

If you can afford to enjoy a luxury sports car, then take the Tesla Roadster for a drive. You will enjoy the smooth handling, stealth acceleration, and 245-mile electric range. After the ride, you can have fun explaining to friends about why you’re still smiling.

Tesla Roadster Specs

The AC induction motor and single speed gear box create instant torque from 0 rpm. Up to 295 lbs-ft of torque and 288 horsepower are produced as the car smoothly accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.


375 volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor with variable frequency drive.

Roadster          Roadster Sport

  • Torque             273 lb-ft at 0-5,400 rpm           295 lb-ft at 0-5,100 rpm
  • Horsepower     288 hp (215 kW) at 5,000-6,000 rpm 288 hp (215 kW) at 4,400-6,000 rpm
  • Max rpm          14,000 rpm      14,000 rpm


Roadster          Roadster Sport

  • Top Speed       125 mph           125 mph
  • 0 to 60 mph      3.9 seconds      3.7 seconds


  • Single speed fixed gear. Reverse drive uses reverse direction of motor, limited to 15 mph.
  • Overall Final Drive        8.28:1
  • Final Drive Ratio           3.12:1


  • Custom microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery with 6,831 individual cells. 3.5 hour charge time from empty to full using the Tesla High Power Wall Connector at 240 Volts and 70 Amps.
  • Range   245 miles
  • Expected Battery Life   Seven-years or 100,000 miles
  • Battery heater for cold weather charging to -20 degrees Celsius             Standard

Exterior Dimensions

  • Overall Length 155.1 in.
  • Width Across Mirrors   72.9 in.
  • Overall Height (mid-laden)        44.35 in.
  • Wheel Base      92.6 in.
  • Front Track      57.7 in.
  • Rear Track       59 in.
  • Curb Weight     2,723 lbs.

Interior Dimensions

  • Leg Room        42 in.
  • Front Head Room        36.7 in.
  • Front Shoulder Room   26 in.
  • Heated Seats    Standard
  • Three-spoke leather-wrapped sport steering wheel        Standard
  • Cruise Control Standard
  • Vehicle information touch screen           Standard
  • Power windows and door locks            Standard
  • Retractable cup holder Standard
  • Air Conditioning           Standard
  • Premium Leather or Microfiber Seats    Optional
  • Executive Leather Package       Optional
  • Executive Leather and Carbon Fiber Package   Optional
  • Infotainment Group: includes large, in-dash touchscreen featuring GPS navigation, back-up camera, HD Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, amplified 400 Watt 7-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and Homelink door opener             Optional
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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

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