The Telsa Roadster's been a long ways a comin', and here are the first reviews in the March issues of the fossil-fuel loving, pulp-based mongrel cousins of Jalopnik. And after a few hours flogging the e-car on California's Skyline Boulevard, most pubs have concluded that the Tesla is the first electric car—the first green car, really—that deserves a spot in any car aficionado's fantasy garage.
Automobile Mag:These guys start by doing a brake stand launch to 60, noticing the electric motor's instant torque of 211 foot-pounts straining the brakes from 0 RPMs. Sounds like a warranty buster to me. Clearly, we've known its fast. What's interesting is that Automobile puts away all concerns about the 1000-pound battery pack consisting of 6831 3.7 volt lithium ions affecting the handling of the lotus based chassis. There is a fair amount of oversteer in the system, but "with 65% of the weight at the rear and no stability control, this probably isn't a bad idea." It sticks, even if it can't touch the handling of an Elise. It's setup for grand touring: The car's circuit protection systems, suspension and overall weight make it better for long drives, although the range of the vehicle is only 200+ miles. (Even factoring in the car's regenerative braking.)
But its not all gravy. Telsa's powerful drive system is destroying transmissions and they've gone through two designs. The first was a single gear setup, which forced the 13.5K RPM car to choose between fast off the line times and top speed. The second had two gears to handle this, which caused an unmentioned problem, so they're onto a third design which will probably have to be shipped out and swapped into the cars of the first batch of customers. Also, the editor here couldn't tell whether or not the car was on at first start, but that ends once you drive. He found the high-pitched RPM, squeeks and rattles annoying.
Road and Track: The R&T guys found the same gentle understeer in handling, but commented on how precise the electric accelerator peddle felt underfoot. Another benefit of an all electric powertrain is that the traction control can be entirely motor based, eliminating the need for the traditional intervention of brake modulation. They also investigate the differences between the Lotus Elise the Tesla shares its space frame with, and realize its bigger in almost every dimension, including the now leather and carbon fiber adorned cockpit. Here's a video of the car, set to some terrible rock.
Motor Trend: MT gave an entire history lesson on Nikolai Tesla, glancing his beef with his old boss, a little known inventor by the name of Thomas Edison. As far as driving particulars go, they complained about the drive lash when you snap off the accelerator, like the kind of deceleration you get when you lift fast off a stick shift, but exaggerated to nasty heights. That's likely from the regen system aggressively scavenging kinetic energy. Brake feel is good and old-fashioned, they say. Oh, here MT discovers the reason why the second-gen two-gear tranny is being replaced: They're breaking after only a few thousand miles under the full-torque-at-a-standstill electric motor. No gas engine has ever tested a gearbox like this.
And those teeth-eating launches? Drama-free, too: "There's no wheelspin, axle tramp, shutter, jutter, smoke whiff, cowl shake, nothing. I'm being eerily teleported down the barrel of a rail gun, head pulled back by a hard steady acceleration. Bizarre." [Automobile Mag, Road and Track, Motor Trend, photos from these pubs as well]