The Tesla dealership is quiet as a cage of sleeping panthers. A pack of the electric Roadsters, in varying degrees of gray, are strewn across the show floor looking like 120mph standing still. I imagine most of them are waiting for a venture capitalist to pick them up and take them from meeting to meeting for the rest of their uneventful lives. But outside is a bright blue one ready for the 10 minutes Tesla and God have handed me. This is my long awaited drive in the Tesla Roadster.
Studying her lines, it is clear to me this car has Lotus DNA, even though the car is much cleaner and classically beautiful-looking than any bug eyed Elise or Exige, and more technologically advanced than the submarine Lotus James Bond drove in The Spy Who Loved Me. The British car maker helped to design the aluminum chassis, which weighs less than 200 pounds, and they handle early stage manufacturing. Tesla stresses that the Roadster is not just an electric Lotus, and it shares no more than 10% of the parts. Much more thought went into this car to simply dismiss it as such. But Tesla's engineers did choose to work with Lotus for a reason, the same reason why most auto journalists consider the Elise one of the last pure sports cars around and a great deal. The low-power, lightweight car is simply one of the best handling and thrilling drives out there, described as some as a street-legal go-kart, and I'd agree that it's one of the best driving experiences I've ever had. With shared genetics, this is perhaps the best way to judge the limits of electric performance as compared to their gas counterparts.