It was raining hard along the Pacific coast, so we turned back inland over some seriously twisted roads. The pint-sized Roadster fit perfectly on the narrow two lanes, leaving enough room to for the inevitable truck trundling along taking up all of his lane and part of ours.
The Roadster's braking capabilities are excellent, but curious. The electric motor that powers the Roadster immediately switches into a generator when you lift off of the accelerator pedal. When you lift, the car slows immediately due to the resistance of generator spinning to recharge the battery pack.
Apparently, one never coasts in a Tesla.
If you lift off the throttle completely, the braking force is significant, but powerful traditional four-wheel disc brakes are at the ready when serious stopping power is needed. In normal driving, however, the brakes are hardly needed, except to hold the Roadster still at traffic lights.
While handling and braking impress, the Roadster's throttle response bends the mind. Unless you've driven one of these, you've never experienced anything like it.
The Roadster's single electric motor produces the equivalent of 248 horsepower and an even more impressive 276 lb-ft of torque. The torque is available from 0 rpm (that's zero). The thrust is completely instant, linear, and uninterrupted.
The affect turned me into a road hooligan. In a car like the Elise SC, rowing the gears is essential to maximizing speed, so when running only 6/10th or so, there are many stretches where one wouldn't bother to grab a lower cog because it's just not worth the effort. In the Roadster, however, because no shifts are required, the hammer went down almost every time. The Tesla requires so little work to access speed that the power has a corrosive effect on one's ability to obey posted limits.
Tesla claims that the Roadster is good for 0-60 mph sprints of around four seconds. After putting several hundred miles on our tester, the claim feels more than reasonable, and easily matched by drivers of even modest skills.
While the Roadster's $101,500 MSRP is ridiculous, such cars will not remain so expensive forever. Furthermore, the driving experience will continue to improve, and issues of range will be conquered or worked around by owners.
If this is the future of cars, enthusiasts have nothing to worry about.
To date, Tesla Motors has already delivered more than 400 Roadsters, and has been recently bolstered by investment funds from Mercedes-Benz. We're told that a refundable $9,900 deposit secures a vehicle, but that the earliest delivery for an order placed now would be late this fall. Visit the company's Website at TeslaMotors.com.