Unfortunately, our test drive of the production version of Nissan's Leaf is still a ways off, but a hand-selected group of 500 individuals are putting the Leaf through its paces over in Japan. Only four production Leafs exist, but several reviewers have now spent some time behind the wheel.
Automotive News writer Hans Greimel got his seat time in the Leaf earlier this week and walked away impressed, despite some glitches encountered during the drive. As Greimel notes, the Leaf is deceptively quick and so quiet that he effortlessly exceeded 60 miles per hour. Even the pedestrian warning system on the Leaf is inaudible when seated in the cabin, leaving only minor road and wind noise to intrude upon the silence.
Two minor problems surfaced during the drive. At one point, neither Greimel nor the Nissan engineer along for the ride could manage to get the Leaf's odd-shaped shifter to select neutral. Another problem surfaced during a demonstration of the Leaf's remote charging ability. The iPhone used for the demo failed to connect with the Internet, forcing Nissan to scrap its plans to showcase the EV's wireless abilities. Similarly, Plug In America's Paul Scott was also allowed a 30-minute test drive in the Leaf. To say he was impressed is a bit of an understatement.
Aside from the minor problems, Greimel appeared impressed but questioned the likelihood of the Leaf's success by closing with this remark, "The question is whether customers will accept a certain amount of range anxiety in exchange for a clean, peppy, futuristic car." Of course, that's a question that we won't be able to answer until EVs hit the roads in mass numbers. With Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn backing, that day isn't far off.