Top Gear Tackles Tesla

By Evan Ackerman

Well, it looks like the Tesla roadster is now officially a legitimate car, since it’s shown up on the most authoritative (and grounded and unbiased) car show in the known universe: Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson goes over some things we know already, like the Tesla’s massive amounts of torque and correspondingly sprightly acceleration, which helps is to trounce the Lotus Elise (that it shares a platform with) in a drag race. Looks like that new single speed transmission that we heard about back in April is working out just fine. He also says it’s ten times cheaper to fill it up (or whatever you want to call it) than the Elise, but that’s in Britain, where gas petrol is something like $6 a gallon £1 a litre.

As you might expect if you’ve ever seen Top Gear before, Clarkson also has some criticisms, most notably a range of “55 miles” and a charge time of “16 hours.” Also, the motor overheated and the brakes failed once. Unsurprisingly, a spokesperson from Tesla has a few apparently quite legitimate quibbles with some of this, which you can read after the jump.

For the record: Thanks to The Stig’s impressive turn behind the wheel, the Tesla Roadster gets a higher ranking in Top Gear’s performance board than a Porsche 911 GT3. Jeremy Clarkson, a die-hard “petrol head” with a clear bias against green cars generally, said that it must be “snowing in hell” because he had such a great time driving the Roadster and now considers himself a “volt head” thanks to the Roadster’s amazing performance. This is amazingly high praise from Clarkson, whose entire schtick is to savage even his most beloved petrol-guzzling sports cars.

However, I would like to clarify a couple things. Never at any time did Clarkson or any of the Top Gear drivers run out of charge. In fact, they never got below 20 percent charge in either car; they never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. (It’s unclear why they were pushing one into a garage in the video; I’ll refrain from speculating about their motives.)

The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately. They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster’s reliability or safety in question whatsoever. Again, I’m going to leave out comments as to why the good folks at Top Gear might have mischaracterized the blown fuse as a brake failure, which is was decidedly not.

I am also unclear as to why Clarkson said it took 16 hours to recharge the Roadster without qualifying that statement at all. The vast majority of people who have taken delivery of their Roadsters (and there are more than 100 of them now) have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours.

However, I really enjoyed Clarkson’s suggestion that, if people want to race Roadsters 24-7, they should simply buy two. 😉

Rachel Konrad
Senior Communications Manager
Tesla Motors Inc.

[ Tesla ] VIA [ DVICE ] and [ Dvorak ]

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