At around 5pm this evening I was on my way to meet up with a fellow Lotus owner to inform him about an upcoming drive and in the valet area of a local outdoor mall was a Tesla Roadster and a marketing rep from California, in town to do some grass roots publicity for an upcoming dealership in Scottsdale. This was the first Tesla I have seen in person and I got to spend a little time playing around with the car and learn some facts straight from the factory, or so it would seem. First off, the car looks almost as good as the Elise, side-by-side. It really has lost much of its agressive styling but overall it's still pretty pleasing to stare at. The interior, while still very basic, is a bit more comfortable than the Elise, and easier to enter and exit.
Now, the driving bit. I've been in some fast cars in my day, even ones with a faster 0-60 time, but the feeling of all that instant torque is really awesome, even after heavy braking and lifting off, the car is just so damn quick. It just mashes you in the seat and rips your face off every time. The lack of engine noise is also very strange. The sales rep was a very cool guy but I am concerned about some of his information from the factory. My biggest problem was his claim that the this current Tesla model and the upcoming Tesla Sport could out-drive the Elise and Exige S. I felt a whole lot of body roll and understeer around the bends and I knew he was full of it. Furthermore, he was using it's 0-60 time (3.7 sec) as a big sales pitch, leaving out any real performance numbers. Well, i'm hardly a Lotus expert but i could tell right away that this car is fast in a straight line, it is really lacking in handling, maybe because it weighs 2800lbs and its in a chassis designed for the Elise/Exige, and its full of batteries. But according to the rep the perfect 60/40 weight distribution lets it hang with real, "motorsport" cars like the Lotus, I didn't buy it.
Either way, it was really fun to see it in person and get to spend some time behind the wheel. Here are some pics, enjoy!