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As much as I love driving the Tesla Roadster, it's far from perfect. I discussed most of the flaws during the big review. However, there is one very important topic that I left out, range. When Tesla publicly launched the Roadster in mid-2006 the big number was the 250 mile range claim. Over the past nine months the range number has fluctuated several times from a low of just over 200 miles to about 240 with the current average falling in at 220 miles for the city/highway combined cycles. The problem is that all those numbers are based on the EPA test cycles. Those cycles are set up for all vehicles to follow and generally don't include any wide open acceleration.

Therein lies the rub. Driven sedately, the Tesla Roadster very likely could achieve somewhere around 220 miles or more. Perhaps even as much 250 miles in city driving with lots of regenerative braking. The problem is that this little demon doesn't really want to be driven in that manner. It begs to be flung from curve to curve. It wants to be thrashed. During our drive, we accumulated somewhere between 80 and 90 miles based on plotting the route on Google maps. Unfortunately I forgot to check the mileage at the beginning. When we left San Carlos the car had a full charge. Update: I got a clarification from Aaron Platshon at Tesla about the indicator gauge. The gauge actually reads miles to discharge rather than percentage charge. So that would put the range with the driving I did at somewhere between 105 and 120 miles. Once the indicator gets to zero, there is actually an emergency reserve that consists of about a 15% charge on the battery. Depending on your driving, that could take you another 15-30 miles. However, it's not recomended to do that very often as such deep discharges are bad for battery durability. When we returned it was at about 22 percent which would put the range in the ballpark of 120 miles. The weather and road conditions didn't permit really exploring the limits of the Roadster's performance envelope. According to some of the print magazine reviews, they got significantly less. Autoweek only managed 93 miles. For now, drivers of the Roadster will have to choose, exceptional performance or exceptional range, but probably not both. Eventually that will surely change, but not today.
Related GalleryFirst Drive: Tesla Roadster