Nissan Leaf Review: An Eco-Friendly Nissan for the New Age

Nissan Leaf Review: An Eco-Friendly Nissan for the New Age

Posted 07.16.2012 in Articles by Christopher

Safe, affordable, and 100% electric, the new Nissan Leaf is eco-friendly fun for a family of five. With an impressive number of accolades, including a 5-Star Overall Rating for safety from the NCAP, the Nissan Leaf has left a great impression, without leaving a carbon footprint.  Our test drive of the Nissan Leaf uncovered four features you should carefully consider before selecting an electric car.

1. So quiet it's eerie

The first thing you notice when you get into a Nissan Leaf for the first time, hit the start button and get ready to go, is that even if you were expecting the car to be quiet, how quiet it really is as you pull away is simply unnerving. It's so quiet it's eerie. Although the logical part of your brain is saying everything's okay, instinctively and emotionally, you know something's wrong. Did it start? Did I break something? It's just too... damn... quiet.

The silence gradually fades away as you start to hear the sound of the tires against the road, and by the time you hit 20 to 30 miles per, you start to hear the slightest whisper of wind noise. Still, even that ghost of a sound is kept at an absolute minimum, as the Nissan Leaf's aerodynamic styling is specifically designed to maintain a quiet cabin.

2. Performance will surprise you

For a medium sized car, it may feel sluggish at first, in part because of its 600 pound battery pack. But because of its torquey electric engine, you'll soon feel the Nissan Leaf is ultra responsive. There is no hesitation when you hit the accelator. The car immediately starts to move, with no lag whatsover, launching from zero to sixty in just under ten seconds. The handling is firm and self-assured without being harsh, or as BMW prefers to call it, sporty.

3. No emissions but plenty of style

The Leaf offers a comfortable, refined ride, not quite at the level of Nissan's premier marquee Acura, but this is certainly a car intended to be purchased by more affluent and demanding buyers. Styling follows the design cues of the rest of the Nissan line. The control panel has an excellent interface that's bright and easy to read without being overly technical and cryptic. The battery meter is simple and shows you the state of charge in a number of bars that decrease in the manner of a modern LED fuel gauge. The computer read-out will also tell you the estimated number of miles remaining, something that many gas-powered cars still don't do.

4. Battery life that keeps going, and going, and going, and going...

Rolling by a gas station gives you a feeling of smug superiority as you pass by and think, “That's seventy dollars I'm not spending.” The 24kw-h battery can be fully charged after eight hours from a 220v 30-amp power supply, which calculates to about two to four dollars for a full charge. When the Leaf was orginally released, range was said to be close to 100 miles, although real world experience proved it to be closer to 80 miles per full charge on average. For most people this is twice as far as they drive in a typical day, so it wouldn't be a very meaningful limitation. The Nissan Leaf can also be charged on a standard 120v household outlet at 5 miles of range per charge, but this type of charging is intended for convenience or emergency charging. 

The Leaf's battery does use a passive air cooling system, which works fine for anyone who lives in an ordinary temperature climate. However, drivers in either very hot or very cold temperature extremes like Phoenix or Chicago might want to opt for an electric car that has an active heating and cooling system for the battery. The Nissan Leaf's battery is guaranteed for 8 years or 100,000 miles, which makes for a long, prosperous battery life.

Overall, the Leaf handles a lot like any other car. What sets it apart is the Leaf's responsiveness with zero acceleration lag, and the fact that it's just so damn quiet. You can have a conversation with a passenger without raising your voice as you would in a gas-powered vehicle. You start hearing things in the stereo you never noticed, and would've attributed it to hearing loss, but realize it was just the road noise you had grown accustomed to. As quiet as the Nissan Leaf really is, we've received the message loud and clear: the new Nissan Leaf is a zero-emissions car with a promising future. 


Image (CC) mariordo59


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Posts: 1
Great car but odd styling
Reply #1 on : Fri October 12, 2012, 11:32:50
I drove the Nissan Leaf in San Diego at Nissan's demo at Liberty Station. It's a really nice car, impressive technology. But I can't get past the stodgy styling. Looking forward to more electric cars from Nissan, hopefully something a little more sporty looking.
Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 11:36:59 by iconoclast  

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