Ten years ago, your electric car choice was limited to a compromised gaggle that did a pretty poor job of persuading drivers that there was potential for an engine-free future. But there was a highlight: the Tesla Roadster, which could crack more than 200 miles per charge (the first production car to do so), hit 62mph from rest in less than 4.0sec and, crucially, handle like a sports car.
That’s no surprise, really, because the Roadster’s resemblance to the Lotus Elise is no coincidence: they share around 6% of their components and were both built in Hethel. The Tesla does have to lug around about 400kg more than its petrol-powered relation, but our road test of the time found that it could “canter around any bend at considerable pace” and offered “outright grip levels not far short of that produced by an Elise”.
It was certainly an attractive proposition for keen drivers looking to become early adopters of this bold new technology, but it never entered the mainstream, due to its limited production and near £100,000 price.
Today, the Roadster is rare and still expensive. But we were intrigued by the prospect of a 59-plate example being offered for £75,000, and not just because of its lurid tennis-ball-green paintwork. This is one of just 250 commemorative Signature Edition cars built, has been with its current owner since the day it left the factory and has covered just 35,000 miles in the intervening decade.
It’s a lot of money for a car that some might see as having become outdated (it will take much longer to charge than a Model 3, for example), but its batteries should have another 65,000 miles of life left in them and there’s a huge stack of paperwork to show that it has been well cared for.
It’s still faster off the line than pretty much everything at this price point – including most new sports cars – and, because you see so few today, it will turn as many heads as it did when it first hit the road.
MA: This is an XJ of old, and it’s far more svelte than the one that replaced it. Also, what’s that saying about stones and glass houses? BMW V8s of the 1990s and early 2000s don’t have a brilliant reputation for dependability either.
FP: Ah yes, that will be why my car has covered twice as many miles as yours. Also, the current seller has written a dissertation on the recent servicing work it has had carried out, for James’ peace of mind.
MA: Yes, but nothing mentioned about the Achilles heel that is the timing chain and its plastic guides, which many believe you ought to change at around 150,000 miles – a familiar figure – as preventative maintenance.
Verdict: If I’m going to be driven around, I’ll take the Jag.