Test ride: Tesla Roadster Sport

On Saturday, I visited the newly-opened Tesla Store on Santana Row, where I got to take a test ride in the Roadster Sport.

Here’s what the storefront looks like:

Tesla storefront

It looks pretty similar to an Apple Store, and that comes as no surprise as it was created by George Blankenship, a veteran of the Apple Retail team. In the store when I visited was a single orange Roadster Sport, with the hood open. GigaOM offers a video tour if you want to see more of the inside.

Behind the store, Tesla has taken over a small section of the Santana Row parking garage, with signage and a couple of charging stations.

Tesla sign on parking garage

While Tesla sightings for me are a very common experience, I only sat in one for the first time in 2009, and until Saturday had never been in one that was moving. As we were pulling out of the garage, the brakes squeaked a bit. Once on the road, the driver noted the squeaky brakes and warned me that he was going to jam on the brakes to clean them off. This was fun, because without a lot of road to work with, he had to accelerate pretty quickly to get up to a jam-on-the-brakes kind of speed. I love the feel of acceleration, of actually being pushed back into the seat, and (perhaps fortunately), this is not a thrill that my current car can offer. Despite the driver’s best efforts, the squeaking didn’t go away, and he explained that a better way to clean them is to brake while in reverse. We didn’t have a chance to try that out. One part of the driving that I noticed was that even in performance mode, the vehicle tries to recapture energy as soon as you let off the accelerator, allowing you to slow down without even using the brakes. While I had noted during my test drive of the Nissan Leaf that the lack of this effect was a positive, as it made it feel more like a “normal” car, I now think that it’s something I could easily get used to, and even appreciate, as using traditional brakes is a total waste of energy. The driver noted that you can train yourself to figure out when to let off of the accelerator when approaching a stop, and end up stopping in just the right place without having to rely on the brakes.

Roadster Sport insignia on the rear of a Tesla Roadster Sport

I don’t know which car it will be, but I really hope my next car is electric. I’m addicted.

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