Hawthorn, California - Pretoria born and bred master of hype Elon Musk has rocked the supercar world with the unannounced reveal of the second-generation, all-wheel drive Tesla Roadster, billed as “the quickest car in the world”.

Musk quotes 0-96km/h in 1.9 seconds (yes, 1.9, not 2.9), 0-160km/h in 4.2 seconds, the standing quarter mile (402 metres) in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of “more than 400km/h”, as well as a 990km range, thanks to a 200kWh battery pack.

Neither he nor the Tesla website’s Roadster page quotes the combined output of the car’s four electric motors in kilowatts, although the site mentions a frankly outrageous combined torque output of 10 000Nm.

In his presentation at the reveal Musk said he had set the performance targets for this car so high because he wanted it to be “the final nail in the coffin of combustion engine cars”; if the car lives up to his claims for it, it could set the future course of performance cars.

OK, it’s not a true roadster, it’s a targa top, with a one-piece glass roof that clips off and can be stowed in the boot, but if it can live up to the rest of it, who are we to quibble?

The styling is all new, bearing little or no resemblance to the original Lotus Elise-based Roadster, with two seats and a thinly-padded parcel shelf masquerading as +2 seating. The front end is as knife-edged as only an electric car can be, with slit-eyed, angry-looking headlights over a vaguely Lamborghini-esque underslung front splitter, sensuously curved profile and a tucked-in tail with tiny tail-lights over an aggressive diffuser.

Pricing starts at $200 000 (R2.83 million), with a $50 000 (R707 500) deposit up front, going up $250 000 (R3.54 million) for the Founders Series edition, limited to no more than 1000 examples - but if you want one of those you’ll have to ante up the whole quarter-mil just to get in the queue.

IOL Motoring