With a price range of 109,000–$128,500, the Tesla Roadster 2.5 might seem out of reach for the average lover of fast cars. Consider though, that this all-electric beauty can accelerate from zero to 60mph in under four seconds, and combines the performance of a Porsche 911 with the environmental consciousness of the Nissan Leaf. Then remember it’s built in limited numbers, for only the most demanding customers.
The car itself is comparable in size to the Lotus Elise, which makes sense since Lotus actually builds the Tesla chassis. Size aside, however, the carbon-fiber body sports LED taillights, and a finned hood, a soft top that is removable but can be replaced with a carbon-fiber hardtop, and a combination of 16-inch front wheels and 17-inch wheels in the back. In the sport model, those wheels are finished in a darker color.
Inside the Roadster 2.5 you’ll find a slight change from the former minimalism of the first version. Last year the a/c controls were moved to a more expected position below the sterio system, though you’ll still find that instead of a conventional gear shift there are buttons for Park, Neutral, Drive, and Reverse mounted in the center console. New for this year is an Infotainment seven-inch touch-screen navigation system, a 400 watt stereo with HD and Sirius radio, Bluetooth compatibility and the option for a backup camera.
The new seats are still leather and still heated, but now there’s better lumbar support and the bolsters are more supportive. An iPod jack is standard, and for a price you can wrap the entire interior leather, instead of just the seats. Conversely, if you’re anti-cowhide, you can opt for microfiber seats instead.
The Roadster 2.5 is powered by an air-cooled all-electric power system that offers the equivalent of 288 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque in the base version and 295 pounds-feet of torque if you opt for the Sport trim. Acceleration is boosted by peak torque being available from zero rpm. The wheels are driven via a fixed gear, and, when decelerating, the motor can help recharge the battery pack, which, in turn, has a 6,831-cell lithium-ion battery that weighs almost a thousand pounds. Tesla says the battery will last for five years or 100,000 miles.
While the Tesla’s optimal charge comes from a home charging station, there is an optional plug that will allow it to charge from a regular 120-volt outlet, though it may take longer than the advertised 3.5 hours.
If there’s one area where the Roadster is a bit under-served, it’s in safety features. It has all-disc antilock brakes and traction control, as well as dual front airbags, but no side airbags at all, and no stability control, either.