• Oriol Vilanova // English

World Environment Day 2017. Throwback to our first Tesla article and test drive back in 2009.


World Environment Day 2017

Tesla vs Corvette "reVOLTution"

I have been told so many times that I am a lucky guy. Well, the truth is that I’ve had to fight hard for everything all my life. Always I’ve picked up all the opportunities that have passed right in front of me.

Last January me girlfriend invited me to San Francisco. She had to fly there because of her duties as model for an American fashion firm. I’ve never been in the West Coast so I couldn’t reject the offer. I spent my first days there visiting the typical spots like the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. Even took the tram to climb up the hill to see the curvy Lombard Street. Many of San Francisco spots were familiar to me. In those streets took place Steve McQueen’s Bullitt car chase, as well as funny scenes of Herbie.

Whether it was because of the films or not, this town has a great automobile tradition and as everything in life it evolves. Thinking about all this a light shined in my mind. Less than 30 minutes from San Francisco, in the Silicon Valley, the evolution of automobile industry has a name and that name is Tesla.

This revolutionary car company specialized in the production of electric powered vehicles was so close and I didn’t want to loose the chance to visit them. I need a plan to test the car so I came up with a good idea. While walking down Geary Street my mind was thinking about it. I needed a car to reach the 300 of Camino Real in Menlo Park. Unfortunately there was no GentlemenDrive office at San Francisco so I had to attend to a Hertz agent. I wanted to test the brand new Dodge Challenger but they didn’t have one at that time. Now all my options to rent a Muscle Car were reduced to a Ford Mustang.

Thank God I had a lucky day, the afro-American girl who was attending me told me: “Hold On”, in true Aretha Franklin style. She said: “I have a wonderful Corvette for you that has just arrived in the parking lot!”. That was like hearing a song from an Angel. I did rent it at first, it was simply perfect for my plan. When I reached the level in which the Vette was parked I saw the car from miles away. It was painted in a shiny yellow colour that made it even visible from the Mars. I went around it and thought it probably was too shiny for me, but anyway I was on holiday and This is America!

With the keyring I unlocked the doors and the turning lights said hello to me. I got it, more than a good idea now I had a brilliant story right in front of me.

The old and the new way of American Muscle Cars

When you are in US you feel like if you were being watched like “Big Brother”. Something similar to what we have in Europe. You never know if there will be a helicopter flying around with a radar or a cop car behind a lane of trees waiting for you. But I decided my self to jump in the streets to live the American Dream. The feelings produced by this the latter version of the mythic Corvette, a car that has a tradition in the US similar to the one that the Porsche Carrera has in Europe, were a magnificent experience. A part from the difficult to comment colour in which it was painted, the car had a black stripe from tail to nose to make it look even sportier, something that made it very bad boy. As well it had chromed finished rims, ready to burn the eyes of the pedestrians. I morphed into a bad boy and now I only needed to stamp my right front onto the pedal to release the beast and escape from a Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor.

Although the Corvette is a maden sportscar, the nearly 430 bhp that it’s V8 engine produces are not well partnered by the suspension set-up. Both axles feel very soft so the best way to unleash the power form the Vette is a straight line.

When I reached Menlo Park, the heart of Silicon Valley, I felt that was in a very special place. Apart from the massive concentration of computer companies there you will find the homes of some of the wealthiest men in US. One of this lucky man is Elon Musk, after selling the company he founded PayPal –the most popular application for secure payment in the net– to giant Google in 2003 he decide to join forces with two engineers: Martin Eberhard and Marc Trapemning. They wanted to change the automobile industry scenario with a new generation of electrifying electric sporstcars.

After parking the Corvette right in front of the Tesla offices, I presented myself as a Spanish motor journalist that wanted to compare the past and the future of the American sportscar. The idea pleased them and in a few minutes I had a marketing assistant with me and the keys of a Tesla Roadster in my hand. Here it started an electrifying test full of surprises.

The first one came out when I started the engine. I think I repeated the operation at least five times, just to realise that the engine was already working. What a surprise, the car didn’t make any noise at all! I thought by a moment that probably I was seating in a car totally aseptic, without feelings. But all changed when I stamped my foot on the accelerator, when the engine is high on revs it makes noise! A noise similar to the one produced by a turbine form a jet plane and that seems to tell you to go faster and faster. The acceleration is pretty fast and it has massive amounts of torque.

At the end I realised that the Tesla is not just a well planned marketing campaign, it’s a reality equipped with the latest technology one kind find in the market. Even Mercedes-Benz have asked Tesla services to supply them their technology for the new electric Smart.

Aesthetically the Tesla Roadster looks pretty similar to the latest Lotus Elise. That’s because they share a lot of parts together. In fact, the legendary British automaker Lotus is responsible for the final assembling and the construction of its aluminium chassis. Even though, the Tesla has a very original and unmistakable shape. The good-looking Targa style body gives you the chance of having to cars in one.

Its ride is very smooth and pleasant, I only have to regret the steering, too heavy in town. The batteries allow you to enjoy a 190 miles range, that’s not bad at all. If we analyse the performance and the range of this sportscar we all must agree that this is an excellent electric car.

The interior is small and the finishing isn’t the one you find in an Audi. Even you can see little details here and there, you have to approve them because this car is more than a car it’s a revolutionary model that will change the whole story in motor industry.

Back from the future, jumped in the Corvette and the GM sportscar now felt like a De Dion Bouton from the beginning of the 20th Century. Some girls waved by in my trip back to San Francisco and I tried to imitate our member and good friend Antonio Garcia –official racing driver of the Corvette Team–, but none of these could help me. I felt I was doing something wrong, that I should leave away my old-style Vette and change it for an electric and eco-friendly Tesla Roadster.

Are the big-blocks close to their end, will we loose the V8 noise forever and what about exhaust notes, will they disappear? Will we stop talking about acceleration and instead of that will we chat about recharging periods? Only time will tell us the truth. But what really was clear was that my week in the American West Coast had been electrifying!

Oriol Vilanova

Founder of GentlemenDrive

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