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electric boogaloo ROAD goes all electric, eco & green!

Tesla Roadster › Mitsu i-MiEV › Gemma Scott: Fiat 500 TA

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e love dirty V8 NASCAR’s, anti-lag Group B monsters, flame-spitting 24Hr racers, V12 supercars, red hot hatches, track slags, killer coupes and everything fast, fuel ferocious and frivolous here at Road. But we’ve also got one eye on the future... quite possibly free of Super and 110RON race fuel. So, welcome to an issue of eco, green, EV, C21st cars – our future, like it or not! But this Utopian future doesn’t have to be dull, as the three cars this month all prove, conclusively. Thanks to, we’ve got a fabulous cover story on the last Tesla Roadster. And dull is one thing this sleek, sexy, swift all-electric supercar certainly is not: 0-60mph in 3.7s, 295lb ft/288bhp on tap, with one gear of seamless-acceleration and an ice cool image. We introduce TV star, Gemma Scott to our Road test clan, giving the award-winning feisty Fiat 500 TwinAir a run out – proving petrol cars aren’t dead quite yet, and that some seriously good things do come in small packages. And we’ve got the wacky all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV city car on test, which petrol-head-Ed, Phil Royle is surprised by, but in a good way. Then of course there’s Neil Cole’s fabulous new column – this month with a brilliant tale of a spin in a hybrid WRC car with Dani Sordo. Hilarious, as ever. Do enjoy & share this eco issue of Road.

TEAM ROAD We are a happy, friendly & highly experienced team of media moguls at Road, including: EDITOR: Phil Royle ART EDITOR: Bonnie Coupland STAFF SNAPPER: Neil Denham ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke COLUMNIST: Neil Cole ECO TESTER: Gemma Scott I.T GURU: Steve Davies Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook & enjoy our ace blog, using click-blob links above.


Tesla roadster: The electric revolution

The final 288bhp/295lbft Tesla Roadsters are rolling off the production line, making way for the new Model S. Road and Green Car Design pay homage to the end of an iconic, exciting electric car era, driving the final Roadster – an EV revolution.


t’s 2012 and retirement beckons for Tesla’s all-electric ground breaking Roadster. Under CEO Elon Musk’s direction and determination, the Palo Altobased company has delivered over 2,100 Roadsters and with the final Lotus gliders on their way from Hethel, production will soon come to an abrupt halt. In an ideal world Tesla would build and sell Roadsters indefinitely. The reality however is that their production lines now have to gear up for Model S production – a car with a far more compelling business case than the Roadster. Not that the Roadster was ever designed to make financial sense – its purpose was to begin an electric revolution. Mission accomplished then. The Roadster has enjoyed but a relatively short sojourn in various dealerships around the world, certainly in respect to the amount of time other price-comparable (super) cars spend in manufacturer’s model line-ups. In fact, time has passed all-together too quickly since Elon Musk himself took delivery of the first production Roadster, dubbed ‘P1,’ early in 2008. So we thought we’d remind you why the Tesla has given the Texas Tea fraternity at bit of a bloody nose: Ballistic 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, 245-mile range, zero exhaust emissions – these well-documented stats are the Tesla’s headline figures. Since its launch in 2008, the Roadster has consistently and thoroughly stapled various driver’s jaws to the next available floor — normally said driver’s lap. Hauling just over 1,200kg to 60mph in 3.7 seconds

with 288bhp on tap would be nigh-on impossible in a conventional petrol-powered performance car. However, a single speed fixed gear gearbox means no time is wasted swapping cogs and 295lbft of torque available from just 1 amp (read instantaneous) results in acceleration of invariable savagery ad nauseam, literally. Given the straight-line speed of the Roadster, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the rest of the car constantly plays catch up. Not so. These Teslas leave the factory wearing sticky Yokohama semi-slicks that, on some of Surrey’s more twisty (and slightly damp) B-roads, offered up much grip. Anything resembling over-steer requires committed and persistent provocation; this was confirmed when the Roadster stubbornly refused to light up its rear tyres under full ‘throttle’ with traction control disabled. In the wet. Nevertheless, with a remorselessly stiff chassis and a manual steering rack, the Roadster allows its driver to link apexes with more precision and enjoyment than you heretofore would have

credited an all-electric car with. Playful? Not really. But engaging? Certainly. Ranking high amongst the defining features of a sports car is weight, or rather the distribution of it. The Roadster’s battery pack weighs around 500kg, considerably more than the 1.8 litre Toyota-sourced unit that powers Lotus’s handling benchmark, the Elise. The Roadster’s overall weight however is thankfully kept down by extensive use of carbon fibre. But this glut of localized battery weight may have had an adverse effect on the handling. Fortunately, the battery is well located and, although it is very heavy, it doesn’t diminish the Roadster’s handling. In fact, the extra weight is only made obvious under heavy braking when the otherwise excellent brakes (AP Racing at the front, Brembo at the rear) begin to complain, mildly. The Tesla will never feel as alive as the aforementioned Lotus, but that’s missing the point – they both bring different qualities to the table. The result of the Roadster’s legitimate supercar performance means it’s easy to see it as a normal supercar, which of course it isn’t. To state the obvious, the Tesla performs like a supercar without emitting any emissions. Sounds simple, but once you’ve sat down and thought about it, you’ll be hit with the sudden realization what this car does is preposterous. With the Roadster, Tesla forged a weapons-grade eco-car capable of out-dragging a Porsche 997 GT2 (just, but still…) and with more range than Nissan’s Leaf. Preposterously revolutionary. It’s not such a bad proposition to live with

either. The considerable battery goes a long way to alleviating any range-anxiety and its diminutive dimensions mean the Roadster often ends up as a city runabout. After a day with it in London, I can absolutely see the benefits, the only niggles being limited visibility and more apparently, the lack of power steering, which is a true double-edged sword. Furthermore, a powerful regenerative braking system means that, with some familiarisation, the Roadster can be driven on the accelerator alone. The interior is much as you would expect although it’s obvious (both figuratively and literally) where the £102,895 list price ends up: Full carbon fibre sills and vents adorn the cockpit, even if the fit and finish of some of the plastics and leather clad pieces seemed a little below par for a car in this price range. What’s more, and this won’t apply to everyone, climbing over those sills to get in and out of the Roadster (as per the Elise/Exige cousins) isn’t just inconvenient, but painful, and executed with minimal dignity. Once inside however, the cabin is intimate, refreshingly intuitive and the bucket seats offer plenty of support. Conspicuous by its absence has been criticism of the Roadsters looks (the same also applies for the Model S). True, Tesla didn’t have boundless scope for design around the gliders Lotus supplied, but they have managed to move it away from the Elise with sharper angles and a lovely, muscular shoulder line that runs the length of the car. From the driver’s seat at least, the sight of air intakes on the rear haunch-

es is particularly pleasing. One thing the Roadster has secured for Tesla is a loyal and fanatical base of enthusiasts, and that’s before considering owners of the Roadster. They enjoy top-tier customer service – something Tesla works hard to maintain and is extremely proud of. The level of professionalism was immediately apparent on collecting this particularly orange example from their service centre in West London. The service bay was uncluttered, immaculate and spacious. Quiet too, unsurprisingly. The challenge will be to keep a bespoke level of service up when the Model S emerges in the Summer; quite a test when

you consider Tesla report that Model S sales have already reached around 8,000, roughly quadrupling the number of Roadsters sold. 8,000 is a big number in this industry, and bodes well for Tesla. The Model S really is the make-or-break car for the company – the difficult second album if you like. And if things go to plan, Tesla will turn an annual profit for the first time in 2013. If, however, technological hiccups and service issues dog the Model S, Tesla equity won’t rebound as it did earlier this month following the departure of Messrs Rawlinson and Sampson, Tesla’s chief engineer and chassis engineering supervisor. It’s not been easy for Tesla; they have en-

dured harsh criticism and no small amount of cynicism, particularly since their IPO in 2010 which, incidentally, was the first time an American car maker had gone public since Ford in 1956. The iconic Roadster has taken the industry by the scruff of the neck – it’s fast, it’s realistic, it’s electric, it works. The challenge now is to go mainstream with the Model S and eventually the Model X SUV, set to be unveiled early next month. Tesla has revealed plans for a new Roadster, presumably the 3.0 in 2014. If that materializes, Tesla will have cracked the mainstream market and progress a little closer to Musk’s goal of an electric ‘Model T.’

Lesley Ann Albiston


Neil Cole is Road’s new motorsport columnist: “Clipping all the apexes, and dotting all the Ümlauts!” Neil, a man of many talents – part comedian and part TV presenter – has appeared on our screens covering WRC with Dave, motorsport on ESPN, Motors TV, the BBC, ITV, C4, MTV, AXN, UKTV, Extreme Sports Channel, The Audi Channel and Sky One. He is also a producer for World Series by Renault. Top guy & talented scribe...


he theme of this issue of Road Magazine is GREEN? OK... I shall pause from stuffing banana skins and coffee grounds into my Delorean’s flux capacitor and tell you a story... Back in April 2009, lured by a press release headlined “Citroën Tests The World’s First Hybrid World Rally Car” and the prospect of an extra day in the sunny Portugal springtime, I found myself in a makeshift Service area near the vaguely mountainous village of Barranco do Velho. This was to be the first “full-

speed” test of the snappily-titled Citroën C4 WRC Hybrid4, which had already broken cover at various motorshows, but never been giving its proper shakedown... until today. Dani Sordo – fresh from a Rally Portugal podium the previous day – is the designated driver. Fellow Citroën driver and win-magnet Sebastien Loeb is absent. Sordo is admirably playing the game with amassed journalists, but secretly clearly a little cynical about the car. I mean, it IS a WRC car... but it is WEIRD. The livery is a classic over-literate interpretation of Hybrid – half futuristic green doodles, half standard Red Bull war paint, split down the middle front-to-back – like catching the Incredible Hulk midchange. But it’s the interior which sticks in the memory. Now, inside the 50m of roll-cage that wraps around the two race-seats inside a rally car is usually totally bare: White-painted metal, exposed bodywork. And in the central portion, a hanging harness that holds both helmets like a Nomex scrotum. But here, taking up most of the car behind the cockpit, this Hybrid C4 WRC has an enormous chrome thing, exactly like an oversized

Scalextric Power Pack. Technically, this is the 990-cell Ion Lithium battery and 125KW electric motor that drives the rear wheels and “gives an extra 300Nm of torque.” “So – you can choose to use the electric motor or not? Like a turbo boost?” I ask Dani. He shrugs “I think so...” I put on my racesuit, and get strapped in for a test. The short section of stage is tarmac, and we cruise to the start line on electric power alone, which is disconcertingly quiet, as WRC cars are usually incredibly noisy, even on liaison sections. But then Dani engages launch control, releases the handbrake, and we are catapulted into the precipitous curves. Regardless of the electro-nature of the day, this moment – having one of this generation’s most talented tarmac rally drivers chauffeur me at speed in the championshipwinning car-du-jour – is a special one, and I savour each pass we make back & forth through the test stage. Fun! And NOISY – proper rattle-bang-roar noisy. As we cruise back down the hill to the service area, engine clearly off, the only small-talk I attempt is: “That felt good – how much of

“I savour each pass we make back & forth through the test stage. Fun! And NOISY – proper rattle-bang-roar noisy” that involved the electric boost?” Dani smiles. “None. I didn’t use it” I laugh, a lot. We trundle smoothly, silently through the quiet Portuguese village. He looks around conspiratorially, and then says: “Actually, I’m not even using it now. We are just... rolling downhill. Don’t tell anyone...” We both laugh more. As we pull in among the media scrum, rolling to a halt just shy of the mechanics’ Ezy-Up, they are all exclaiming “Ooh isn’t it quiet!” Dani just looks over at me and winks. Follow Neil Cole at: @neilcole on twitter

Dani Sordo gives our man Neil a non-taste of WRC Hybrid technology.


Fiat 500 TWINAIR: petrol lives on!

Meet the greenest petrol car on the planet – Fiat’s funpacked TwinAir, capable of 70mpg from its fiesty inline two-cylinder 875cc, turbocharged award-winning engine.


AGIC’ – is how my five-year-old described the latest Fiat 500c TwinAir when I arrived to collect him from school. And he’s right, it is magic, in many ways. To a five year old; magic that this ‘toy’ car really drives, magic that when it does drive it performs rather better than

in my mind it should, magic start-stop technology, but most magic of all, the revisitation of the engine technology that reflects that of its 1957 500 predecessor. The TwinAir was awarded international engine of the year 2011 and rightly so. This is the greenest petrol car on the planet. Its 85bhp,

875cc turbo engine uses an electronic control of air and fuel delivered to its two cylinders, giving it the lowest CO2 emissions of any petrol car. On starting the engine however, you will find yourself questioning the petrol acclaim as this sounds more like a diesel chugging over. And the acceleration

is long and frustrating, taking 11 seconds to get you to 60mph. Having said that, once cruising on the open road, you’ll come to forget the initial sluggish crawl and odd engine drone and come to tune into the retro appeal within this magic little car. With its early iconic Italian original 500 influence,

the design within is big and bold, and, Tardis style, somewhat fools you into thinking you are in something much larger than this physically downsized vehicle. The dashboard takes on a fabulous orange glow, bringing the sixties influenced dials to life. What you need is essentially right

there in front of the steering wheel – radio station tuned into, mpg, telephone book and the obvious speed, warning lights etc. It’s neat. The bluetooth technology allows hands-free use of the telephone, which was remarkably easy to set up, but not so reliable when using the voice recognition

dialling or, I’m told, particularly easy for anyone to hear me via – I was twice asked if I was dialling from abroad! Sadly, that wasn’t the only unreliable feature of the £12,000 500 TwinAir. The stop start function designed to optimise the efficiency and decrease the carbon footprint was very sporadic and behaved in direct comparison with my dog – responding exactly as she pleased! After the first 35 miles

of driving, rather disconcertingly the engine cut as I stopped at the traffic lights on the centre of the Shepards bush roundabout in London. After the initial panic that the car had broken down (since it hadn’t been doing this thus far), I settled back down and as the lights turned green, clutch dipped and the engine started and away I go to the next set of lights where once again the engine cuts as I stop.

Smiling and slightly smug as I look around knowing that my car is being very green and efficient, I dip the clutch on the green light and… well… nothing happens: No motorbike-esque purr, no revs at all noth… oh wait, we’ve started after a fourth dip of the clutch, various beeps and handgestures from other London road users and I’m off again: Not ideal. On other occasions she started quite simply in an-

“LIKE ALL WOMEN, this car behaves in quite the erratic manner”

ticipation of the lights turning green and not on my command. Like all women, this car behaves in quite the erratic manner. It takes some getting used to, as men will testify. The abundance of airbags and other safety gizmos fills you with confidence when riding inside this micro machine. And the overall feel of the drive far outweighs other similar superminis I’ve driven. It really is a cracking little car, niggles aside. I did ‘fall for her,’ and if you like a bit of Disney and magic then this is definitely for you. How can you not love the Italian elegance and unrivalled style, and the simple fun factor of this compact city car? But city car it is: The TwinAir is not for motorways or a Sunday drive. It suits the hustle and bustle of urban life. The Fiat 500c TwinAir is to cars what Marmite is to jams and preserves – you’ll love it or you’ll hate it! Personally, I love it. What’s not to love about a £12K, 70mpg, lively, stylish, fun city car keeping petrol cars alive in the C21st?


I-MIEV: eccentric electric

Mitsubishi’s all-electric i-MiEV might look a bit odd. And at £23,990, it ain’t cheap. But Road Editor, Phil Royle discovers an EV that’s big fun, innvovative and no slouch either...


hat do you honestly think about Electric Vehicles (EV)? Are they amazingly innovative new technology? The exciting future of modern motoring, available now? A stepping stone to the new breed of green cars? Lame? Expensive? Pointless? Maybe you’ve not even bothered forming an opinion... Well, you should, and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV – one of the first all-electric cars on the market – is as good a place to start as any. What you are looking at here IS new, dynamic and

exciting – genuinely exciting, believe us! Let’s deal with the downsides first, and get them out of the way: Yes, it ‘only’ has a 93-mile range. But i-MiEV is designed to be Mitsu’s “Intelligent Motion” city car and 90-odd miles is easily under most folk’s urban commutes. And i-MiEV will reach 80% change in just 30 minutes, either pluggedin at home/the office or at one of the 200+ charging points across the UK (see uk/). And it’ll only cost you £2 to do ‘fill’ it (£1.05 with

Economy 7). That’s just £270 to charge for 12,000 miles driving, or only £135 on Eco 7. Compare that to Super Unleaded at 150p per litre – you do the maths! Yes, it ‘only’ has 66bhp on tap from its zero emissions full-electric AC permanent magnet synchronous motor. But it also offers 133lbft torque, continuously, with no gear changes to stem the flow. It is NOT slow. Yes, it ‘only’ does 87mph, but it gets there pretty darn quickly by any supermini standards: 0-30mph under six seconds, 25-37mph

under three seconds, 3750mph under four seconds and a quoted 0-62mph in 13.0s. But it feels faster than that. Lively is the word, thanks to its low 1100Kg weight and no gears. Yes, it costs a whopping £23,990, including the £5000 Government plug-in grant. But that’s the price of new technology, and the running costs are super low – with cheap re-charging, easy servicing (only four moving parts in motor), free road tax, free city parking (London and Milton Keynes and more soon), no London congestion charge, various tax incentives (first year

capital allowances for fleet vehicles, zero benefit-inkind company car tax) and a cost per mile less than 6% of a petrol comparable vehicle – before taking into account no road tax and free parking. One of the keys of success of the 2009 and 2010 Greenfleet Awards winning i-MiEV is it’s effectively a regular car, just an EV: You unlock it, jump in, beltup, use a key to start, slot the transmission into drive (there are three modes of the Constant Variable Transmission or CVT: D – Normal driving, C – reducing regenerative braking for cruising

and B – increasing regenerative braking during downhill driving) and you are off. Then there’s no clutch or gear changes to worry about, just a throttle to go, steering wheel to turn and brakes to stop: “Simples.” You can seat four adults no worries, with tons of headroom, there’s ample space for luggage and the equipment levels are as good as you’d find in any decent city car – MP3, electric windows, air con, Halogen lights, bit of leather here and there, 15-inch alloys and even Mitsubishi Active Stability Control (ASC) and Traction Control,

ABS braking with EBD and Brake Assist. The near silent operation of the motor gets you every time – you’ll notice bird song, hear conversations on the pavement and with your co-drivers. It’s ace. But the best bit is how it drives. With an instantlyaccessible gut load of torque on tap, at any speed, the rate of acceleration is, frankly, surprising. And being rear-wheel drive, it’ll even slew sideways, which is just hilarious – as is blasting down the motorway, in the fast lane, upsetting BMW’s at V-max. No one expects that. And with a wheel at each corner, long wheelbase, light body and low centre of gravity, the odd looking iMiEV handles darn well too. We had a blast with this EV, grinning from ear to ear each run out. And the thought of never having to go to the petrol station again and bend over for 150p per litre again really started to appeal. i-MiEV: Big fun. Big sense.

ROAD 24: Electric Boogaloo!  

Road Magazine puts on eye on the future this month – covering Electric vehicles, eco cars and all things green. There's the 911 GT2-slaying...

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