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Benzinga Test Drives the Tesla Roadster

Don't ask us how we got it (we'll never tell), but one of our zingers is a lucky devil.

Let's just get this out of the way: driving the Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) Roadster was awesome.

Decked out in Racing Green with Saddle leather, the base model Tesla Roadster was turning heads everywhere it went. Neighbors in the street stopped to say, "That's the perfect color!" and "This car makes me want a Tesla!" as the car sat silently in the driveway, plugged in to the wall to gain precious miles.

On first walk around, the car sits very low, has a very wide step in and all body panels are carbon fiber. The "trunk" space has just enough space for a set of golf clubs (no trips to Costco (NASDAQ: COST) with this car) as most of it is occupied by the battery core and cooling systems.

According to the performance section of Tesla's website, the claim for 0-to-60 times just under four seconds is wholly accurate from the Energy Storage System (ESS) capable of holding 53 kWh of electrical energy. . The silent driving experience (with the cloth top removed) is stellar. The proximity to the ground allows the driver to be more aware of their surroundings and other vehicles (driving by a Ford (NYSE: F) Escort seemed like passing an SUV).

First piece of advice? Start slow. When pulling out of the driveway (quieter than a bicycle) the available torque could cause some serious damage if the driver accelerates into the turn. The lack of power steering did not require much effort in steering, and the small-ish steering wheel was easy to grip and maneuver. Soon, the car will make it to the road.

Second piece of advice? Get on a straightaway, and MASH the accelerator to the floor. The driver can feel shares of Tesla spiking as kilowatts increase and miles tick off the estimated range. This driver was floored in his seat with a grin wider that the car's 72.9 inches of width. 30 miles per hour feels twice that as trees and houses whip by on a county road like a Claude Monet painting.

Next stop: the airport. Purpose? To "borrow" the runway for some free range speed testing. Amidst single engine airplanes and the use of an air traffic walkie talkie, the runway tests for the car happen in between private takeoffs/landings with some local onlookers enjoying the show.

Taxi on to the runway, get the go ahead, and once again MASH the accelerator. This time though, no turns, no rough pavement and no need to slow down. The Tesla does everything but lift off the ground to join the other planes in the air.

The price tag ranges from $109,000 - $128,500 starting with the base model and going up for the slightly quicker Roadster Sport model. Hefty yes, but the more practical new Tesla Model S starts lower at around $49,900 for its base model, which offers performance more akin to 0-to-60 miles per hour in the 6.5 second range from the 40 kWh ESS. That is for the base model, and the numbers only improve from there.

Albeit entirely impractical for daily use, this car is definitely a fun commodity to have in store as long as the other car in your garage has ample room for cargo, passengers, gasoline, etc.

In 2010, Tesla Motors announced a partnership with Toyota (NYSE: TM), a deal where Toyota would invest in Tesla and the two companies would cooperate, forming a special team to work on the development of electric vehicles, parts and production systems to replace internal combustion engines on the road.

More recently, the two companies have revealed their work together on Toyota's RAV4 SUV in efforts to produce 25,000 units of the electric version, should it be received well.

So two companies partner on the creation of a fully electric vehicle that has room for five and luggage with an extended driving range, a combination consumers have been waiting for since all current options require some sort of sacrifice. Implications for the two companies? If the excitement is HALF of what it was with the Roadster test drive, only good things can come.

Posted-In: Tesla Model S Tesla RoadsterNews Topics Tech Reviews General Best of Benzinga

 

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