Every automotive journalist who drives a Tesla comes away impressed with the car's power, and I can say the same after taking the car out on a quick drive near the company's Menlo Park, Calif., Tesla store (they don't call it a showroom or dealership).
In Performance mode, the car exhibits powerful and smooth torque, even at speed. I had this little open top roadster at 65 mph on the freeway, then mashed the accelerator (don't call it a gas pedal) and got another powerful push in the back that sent the car quickly up to 90. The Tesla's push is unique among sports cars though. Where a high-stepper such as the BMW M3 makes you feel a kick in the back with every gear shift, the Tesla delivers a strong, steady push when you put your foot down on the pedal.
The Tesla I drove featured "Powertrain 1.5," eliminating the two-speed gearbox from the previous model. Yes, Tesla patterns itself after tech companies, so the power train gets a version designation, although the cars themselves still go by a model year.
In this Tesla, as in other electric cars I've driven, the operation is dead simple: Move the shifter from Neutral to Drive, and you're moving forward. Push the accelerator if you want to go faster and hit the brakes if you want to stop. The only real difference, besides the fact that the Tesla goes a lot faster than other electric cars, is that taking your foot off the accelerator at speeds less than 40 mph makes the car slow down as if you were applying light pressure on the brakes. That is the regenerative power train in operation, using the car's momentum to generate electricity for the battery pack. The Tesla also has regenerative brakes, but you don't need to use them much, adding the side-benefit of very infrequent brake maintenance. … Read more