“Most electric cars were designed by and for people who fundamentally don’t think we should drive,” says Martin Eberhard, one of Tesla’s founders. Tesla set out in 2003 to change that with the Roadster.

It took until 2006 before the Roadster was unveiled. Production started in earnest in 2008, with 10 production cars reaching California by the middle of last year, and 150 by the end of the year. The Roadster is the first Tesla, but it won’t be the last; more models are planned.

Ever since carriages dispensed with horses there have been electric cars, but for much of the past century they’ve been relegated to niche vehicles, performing at low speeds over short distances. Even supposedly radical recent ones do little else.

The Tesla Roadster aims to change that. It’s not just an electric car; it’s an electric sports car, and a very expensive one at that. It is Tesla’s attempt to glamorise electric motoring and, as we’ll discover, it’s fascinating, totally relevant and revolutionary.

Buyers can choose between the standard car and the Roadster Sport, which gets lightweight alloy wheels, more performance-oriented Yokohama tyres, 10-way adjustable Ohlins dampers, adjustable anti-roll bars, and a more powerful electric motor.

Top 5 Convertibles

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Tesla range

Driven this week

  • Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic
    First Drive
    29 May 2016
    We head to Havana to find out how the new Audi Q2 is shaping up ahead of its November launch
  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact