2010 Tesla Roadster Performance

$109,000 - $128,500

2010 Tesla Roadster Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Tesla Roadster was new.


This model has never been fully tested for performance. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other .

Critics praise the Roadster for its quick and seamless delivery of power, as well as its top-notch sports-handling dynamics. Combined with its Earth-friendly electric motor, it's easy to understand what all the fuss is about.

  • "Whatever design anomalies, daily annoyances, absurd ergonomics, and ridiculous economics underlie Tesla's little battery-powered peashooter, the car has one slam-dunk feature: It makes boys out of men." -- Car and Driver
  • "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." -- Automobile Magazine-
  • "There are people who praise the Tesla Roadster for its environmental attributes. It consumes no fossil fuels, spews no tailpipe emissions and leaves a relatively minor carbon footprint. But all of that is missing the point, because those are also attributes of the decidedly non-sexy, campus utilitarian, golf-cart-like cars assembled by Global Electric Motorcars, a Chrysler company." -- Washington Post
  • "The Tesla Roadster combines the performance of a high-end sports car - it can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to the automaker - with the environmental-friendliness of an all-electric drivetrain that emits zero emissions." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers are impressed with the 2010 Tesla Roadster's instant power delivery and hassle-free single-speed transmission.

The Roadster features a 375-volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor. While the base Roadster produces 248 horsepower, the Roadster Sport generates 288 horsepower. Both redline at 14,000 rpm and are mated to a single-speed fixed-gear transmission.

According to Tesla, the base Roadster can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The Roadster Sport does it in 3.7 seconds. Both have a top speed of 125 mph.

  • "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." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The Roadster's single-speed transmission remains an impressive piece of work, offering us smooth power delivery all the way up to 85 mph, our self-enforced top speed on these public roads." -- Autoblog
  • "Once you experience direct drive, you'll never want to go back. There's no slack from gear lash, no hang time while a transmission computer thinks about which gear to select. Burying the pedal has the same accelerative immediacy as jumping in front of the 5:35 express." -- Car and Driver
  • "The car is explosively quick under about 70 mph, but at speeds above that, the motor torque starts to evaporate. Above 100 mph the car feels labored, and this is right where a Porsche 911 Turbo is just hitting its stride." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "The car we drive today has the final single-speed transmission. Earlier press testers used a two-speed unit, often locked in second because it had durability issues. The single-speed finally realizes the dream of the electric car: absolutely progressive, smooth, transparent acceleration." -- Motor Trend

Range and Charging

Fueled by electrically charged battery packs, the Tesla Roadster's estimated range is 220 miles on a single 3.5 hour charge. The vehicle's charger is integrated into its powertrain and can be plugged into a conventional 120-volt outlet or 240-volt outlet. Tesla sells four charging kits, ranging from $600 to $3,000, which allow owners to convert their garages into charging stations or charge their Roadsters by plugging them into any available socket. Tesla estimates that the lithium-ion batteries that power the Roadster will last up to five-years or 100,000 miles.

  • "The Tesla's charms lie in its otherness relative to ordinary cars. For example, your garage becomes your filling station, self-service only." -- Car and Driver
  • "It takes about 3.5 hours to fully recharge the car on a special high voltage charging unit that can be installed in the owner's home. An optional recharge kit allows the roadster to be charged up from any outlet in America." -- Detroit News
  • "What really kills the range is driving at sustained high speeds. I found a steady 85mph motorway stretch used about twice as much absolute charge per mile as doing 55mph. So the last section of my test was conducted drafting trucks on the way back to London." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Test drivers rave about how thrilling and simple to drive the Tesla Roadster is. What's more, many report that its handling dynamics are exquisite. The '10 Roadster features independent front and rear suspensions, a hydraulically operated regenerative braking system with ABS, and manual steering.

  • "Settled in the sling-like bucket seat, the job of driving the Roadster is easier than most sports cars. Hit the starter button, engage drive, and go. The transmission is a single-speed unit, so there's no need to shift. Just stab the throttle and steer." -- Automobile Magazine
  • Aside from going fast, the Tesla's Lotus-based chassis allows it to be one of the finest-handling automobiles you can buy. Thanks to the aft positioning of the electric motor and battery pack, the Roadster's weight distribution is even more rear-biased than the Elise's -- 35 percent front/65 percent rear, compared to 39/61 for the Lotus." -- Edmunds
  • "The handling is steadfastly neutral except if you try to kick it sideways. Then it just plows. You won't see Teslas on the pro drifting circuit, but its drivers will always be smiling. The unassisted steering is quick, organic, and a bit heavy. A few inches wider and longer than an Elise, it is also sprung softer and has more give over lumps and more roll in corners." -- Car and Driver
  • "The manual steering is precise and the Yokohama Neova tires (16-inchers in the front and 17-inch wheels in the back) stay sticky on the road and the body remains stable around fast corners. The fully independent suspension is stiff and the short wheelbase gives the roadster a somewhat bumpy ride but it's on par with many performance cars." -- Detroit News
  • "The brake pedal feel is firm and progressive, betraying little of the system's inherent artificiality. The 'brakes' are actually a synthetic combination of calipers and the electric motor's regenerative braking effect." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "Since those regenerative brakes are very quick to get into their energy-recovery mode - they perceptibly take over as soon as your foot comes off the accelerator - it's basically possible to drive the Roadster using just the one pedal. Theoretically, the only time you'd need to step on the brakes is when something pops up in the road without warning, although obviously we don't recommend that strategy." -- Autoblog

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