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Test Drive of the Yet to be Released Tesla

February 17th, 2009

I was in the neighborhood, and am looking to possibly burn some money, so I decided to check out the Tesla dealer on Santa Monica Blvd.  Having owned Lotus Elise, I expected that I was not going to be impressed.  I was however pleasantly surprised.  The Tesla is a bigger car, I didn’t feel squeezed into it.  I’m not saying I’d want to try getting in and out in a tux, and there is no way Diz or JJ would be able to get out of it in their Red Carpet gowns.  Kyrstin however knew how to make it look graceful.  She clearly had practiced a move by which she pulled her foot close to the seat, placed her hand on the door, and stood up with an almost balerina-esque movement.

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The Tesla has a suspension that doesn’t shake you near as much as the Lotus, and the position of my head was such that I was in the car, rather than in my lotus where my head was above the roll bar.  The Tesla’s styling is less aggressive than the Lotus, but also less kiddie.  The lotus looks like a hot wheels car.  The Tesla looks like it was designed by someone with refinement.

Tesla Electric Car

For as many high points as the vehicle has it does lack some refinements I would expect in such a “high end” car.  The JVC audio system looks stuck in.  Like if you replaced the beautifully integrated sound system and computer from my Mini with one from Walmart, and did the install yourself.  There is also the lack luster suede seats.  They just look and feel Mazda Rx7, not Porsche or BMW.  Interestingly some features which are not on a Lotus because they add to the weight, like power windows and air conditioning are included on the Tesla.

Tesla Motors

The “fast” 0-60 in 4.7 seconds is faster than my Mini (5.6), but the 125 mph top speed is well short of the 146 which I have been clocked at in My R53 Mini JCW.  The price of fuel per mile on the Tesla works out to a 70 mpg equivalent versus the 32mpg that the Mini gets.  But I would have to put 500k miles on the car to recoup the difference between the sticker price and the price of gas.

Tesla Sports Car Zero Emissions Vehicle

I asked about track days, something that I really think justifies the extra money of a sports car.  Taking the Tesla to the track is discouraged.  While the Tesla is fast, and sporty, it just isn’t designed to run all out for long periods of time.  The motors, the power cells, and the cooling just aren’t adequate to running 30 laps at Laguna Seca, something my Mini does several times a year, and which any of my other cars can do when I’m not worried about the rice rockets putting scratches in my paint.

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