On a recent visit to the United States, which included a spectacular drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles via Highway 101, the first landmark I saw in LA was the Tesla Motors showroom on the corner of Santa Monica and Sepulveda boulevards.
It’s a super busy and often-grid locked location, which incidentally, was on President Obama’s drive route through the city of angels last year, and it doesn’t get any better if its exposure you’re after.
The Tesla dealership is not like any car showroom I’ve ever seen. It’s more like a Niketown store or ultra chic Ad Agency.
But then Tesla is unlike any other car company in the world. They make very fast electric cars that actually work, and the Tesla Roadster Sport is their latest creation.
Not that the standard Tesla Roadster was slow in any way, if you count 3.9 seconds from 0-100km/h as fast, which I surely do.
Try 3.7 seconds for the Roadster Sport and you won’t use a millilitre of fuel. Remarkable, I know. And that’s with a range of 378 kilometres.
Torque is the key to the increased performance off the line with the Sport, and plenty of it, across a torque band that sounds like science fiction even in today’s fast moving times.
Punch the throttle, and all 400 Newton-metres of torque come on song, and stays on song all the way to a staggering 7100 rpm from a single electric motor.
By comparison, the standard Tesla Roadster develops 380 Newton-metres up to 5500 rpm, more than enough for most occasions, I suspect.
Even more remarkable is that the Tesla’s supercar performance is achieved with a single-speed (single ratio) transaxle with a rather dull ratio of 8.27:1.
What that means is that initial acceleration isn't explosive, but it’s reliable and robust. But the moment the speedometer nudges 16-20km/h mark, the electric motor winds up and the Tesla morphs into a ground-hugging missile.
With a 240-volt power system as we have in Australia, a full charge of the lithium-Ion battery stack will take just 3.5 hours, at which time a green light flashes to let you know you’re full.
Suspension is via nitro-charged shocks on all corners, which are manually adjustable across ten settings and the brakes are regenerative, but just for good measure, AP Racing/Brembo calipers make certain of the car’s stopping power.
Steering is still unassisted as per all other Tesla models although lighter forged wheels make things fractionally easier when parallel parking.
Tesla is one of those trailblazing car companies that you want to see succeed, it's also a company that seems to put its money, where its mouth is.
We look forward to the four-door Tesla Model S in 2011 with its 7-seat capacity, 482km range, and 45 minute QuickCharge.
And the performance of this plug in electric family car you ask how’s 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds sound?
Lotus builds the Tesla in the UK, so right-hand-drive cars should not be a problem.
Price of Tesla Roadster Sport: converting US prices to Australian dollars is between $118,000 and $139,000.