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Tesla Roadster gets version 2.5 upgrade

The Roadster electric sports car from the now publicly traded Tesla Motors receives a few aesthetic revisions and cabin technology upgrades.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
3 min read
Rather than giving the Roadster a new model year designation, Tesla refers to this as a version 2.5 update.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Rather than giving the Roadster a new model year designation, Tesla refers to this as a version 2.5 update.
Rather than giving the Roadster a new model year designation, Tesla refers to this as a version 2.5 update. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Hot on the heels of this week's IPO and amid anticipation for its upcoming Model S sedan, Tesla Motors invited us to preview the latest upgrades to its Roadster electric sports car. Dubbed the Tesla Roadster 2.5, this new model features revised styling and aerodynamic cues and an available upgraded cabin technology package, which is great, as we'd always found it ironic that a vehicle with one of the most technologically advanced drivetrains on today's roads was saddled with subpar cabin tech.

Tesla Roadster version 2.5 (photos)

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The most obvious changes to the Roadster 2.5 can be found right up front. A revised front fascia features a more aggressive look, with new vents and a new integrated and color-matched chin spoiler. We think we can see a little MX-5 Miata in the 2.5's new rounded front grill, which is a good thing.

The general effect is a more cohesive appearance than the gaping maw of Roadster 2.0. Off to either side of the new grill are gill-type vents that add to the Roadster's pissed-off face. However, these are not mere styling baubles; rather, they aid in diverting air that's not utilized for cooling away from the high-pressure area at the nose of the car and off to the sides, reducing drag at higher speeds.

At the opposite end of the Roadster 2.5 is a revised rear diffuser that's been tweaked for a more aggressive appearance, rather than enhancing aerodynamics. Opting for the Roadster Sport unlocks a new wheel design, available in silver or gloss black finishes. Everything in between is more or less identical to the now old-school Roadster 2.0.

Beneath its composite skin is the same electric power train with the same 250-mile maximum range and the same 3.5-hour charging cycle when juiced by the high-power connection. We're told that the Power Electronics Module (PEM), which is the electric hub through which all of the EV's power flows, has been upgraded for better heat management, but we doubt you'll notice unless you take delivery of your Roadster in Abu Dhabi.

Settling into the Roadster's new seats--which have been updated with more supportive bolsters, lumbar support, and a wider bucket--we immediately take notice of the new double-DIN in-dash GPS navigation receiver; an Alpine branded unit with the model number IVA-NAV-10. We're not certain, but we're pretty sure this is an OEM-rebranded version of the Alpine INA-W900 retail model. The unit features a 7-inch screen, Navteq maps stored on its internal solid-state memory, and a rear-view camera system. CD and DVD video playback are supported, as is iPod/iPhone connectivity. Looking further down to the center console we spy a stealthily integrated iPhone dock that features an Apple 30-pin dock connector.

The 2.5's basic four-speaker audio system receives a substantial upgrade with the optional addition of a pair of door-mounted tweeters and a 6.5-inch subwoofer that spreads bass through the passenger compartment from within the rocker panel behind the driver. The system uses a new amplifier that splits 300 watts of power between its seven speakers. The Roadster's interior features improved sound reduction, including new front-fender liner material that should reduce road noise, making the cabin even quieter. Testing the system in a stationary Roadster in Tesla's parking lot, we were able to tell that though this does qualify as "premium" audio, it's not exactly what we'd call audiophile quality.

We've already spent a good deal of time behind the wheel of the Roadster, so check out our full review for details about driving dynamic and livability. The 2010 Tesla Roadster 2.5 is available now at Tesla Motors dealers around the world.