GREENWICH, Conn. — The Tesla Roadster’s handler, Joe Powers, handed me the nondescript keys. “Sorry, this isn’t the finalized key fob,” he said. I didn’t care what the keys looked like — if they allowed me to access the 248 horsepower from the all-electric Tesla’s microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery pack it was A-OK with me.
The Tesla, with Lotus roots, is pretty tiny, and its footwell is not made for my size 12s. But sliding the seat back all the way, and with my 14-year-old daughter riding shotgun, we found a fit. I twisted that little key and some lights came on, but, to set it apart from every other supercar built in the last 50 years, there was no rush from a big V-8 or V-12 rumbling to life. EVs are quiet. But when my right foot came down…
Erase any images you have of slow-poke, boring-as-hell electric cars presided over by a smiling picture of Al Gore. The Tesla Roadster blows all that to smithereens, and without creating any smoke! The bucket seats are snug, which is good because when I goosed the throttle out of the hotel parking lot, Maya and I were pinned like NASA astronauts. We forgot to breathe.
I loved my brief test ride. If I were some kind of Grinch, I’d point out that the steering is fairly heavy at parking lot speeds, the canvas top is relatively complicated to attach and remove, the cabin lacks any useful storage and the stereo unit in our test car, well, sucked. (If you have the money for this car, definitely go for the Electronics Group update, which includes seven speakers with subwoofer, Bluetooth, Sirius/XM and Homelink door opener, even if it costs $3,000.)
The Roadster has a 244-mile range, better than any other pure battery EV. We drove it for 20 minutes, during which time the indicator dropped from 167 to 141 miles.
All the caveats melted away when we hit the highway and experienced a combination of taut ride, pinpoint steering accuracy and that amazing accelerator. Here’s a brief video travelogue, with Maya's camera work. Note that safe parking lot protocols are being observed: