The way the Tesla Roadster delivers its performance runs contrary to a conventionally powered sports car. Mechanical sympathy would normally prevent us from pushing a car hard from cold, yet this is exactly what the Tesla demands, delivering optimum performance with a cold motor but warm batteries. Which means hitting the throttle immediately after a full recharge.
Then there’s the way the motor delivers its power and torque. The Tesla produces its full torque the instant it starts spinning. It does not have a completely flat torque curve; torque stays constant until 6000rpm, nearly halfway through the rev range, before starting to fall away linearly. The power, by comparison, builds gradually to an 8000rpm peak before tailing off.
The effect of all the Tesla's instant torque is off-line acceleration that’s exhilarating, but strangely undramatic.
Release the brake and the Tesla creeps forward like a conventional automatic, but hold its brakes while building some driveline tension and when you release the brakes the Tesla simply goes. Even on a damp surface with the traction control disabled it wouldn’t break traction. The nature of the drivetrain means power is introduced so smoothly that there is no jolt to unstick the tyres.
It’s properly fast, too. Even the standard Tesla demolishes each 10mph increment up to 40mph in less than eight-tenths of a second, the delivery is exceptionally linear and, with no gearchanges to punctuate the acceleration, you’re left to marvel at the forces acting on your internal organs. Although we were unable to match Tesla’s claimed 0-60mph figure of 3.9sec (our best, in the cold and two up, was 5.0sec), the Roadster’s eerily smooth, fuss-free performance still impressed us. Tesla claims a 0-60mph figure of 3.7sec for the Sport.
Brake pedal feel is accurate enough for road driving, but for track work it could be more precise. The stopping distances, even considering a damp track, are on the long side, too.