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The first round of test drives of the production Nissan Leaf is over and the overwhelming majority of reviews are extremely positive. Autocar, well known for its in-depth and often critical reviews, walked away with smiles after piloting the Leaf around the track. We can't say that the final verdict is in just yet, but we'd like to think that the glowing reviews of the Leaf are a sign that Nissan got it right.

Autocar
had a lot to talk about after driving the Leaf, but we'll just touch on a few of the highlights. Autocar notes that the Leaf is not very photogenic, but looks quite good in person. Touching on power, the reviewer believes that the Leaf's off-the-line punch is as good as any V6 out there, but notes that acceleration quickly falls off as the Leaf's speed rises. For those with sporty handling high on their priority list, the Leaf should not disappoint, according to Autocar:
We remember smiling as we took our first corner, because the Leaf handles with surprising poise and purpose of mission. With the heavy battery pack positioned nice and low in the platform, the Nissan turns in with precision and well-weighted steering while exhibiting almost no body roll and no understeer. Ride quality was firm and comfortable...the Leaf's brakes deliver excellent stopping power.

Reading the words of praise above, we were almost positive that some clerical error led Autocar to erroneously paste part of a Porsche 911 piece into the Leaf review, but that's not the case. In fact, the reviewer dishes out even more praise by closing with, "If you don't drive more than 70 or 80 miles a day, then the Leaf might just be the perfect planet-friendly transport for you." That claim is exactly what Nissan has pushed on us since day one.

[Source: Autocar]


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  • 56 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      We see a pattern forming, don't we. The people who are against electric vehicles probably haven't driven one long enough. Those who have driven them are very likely to love them. The longer you drive one the more you like it.

      Now that's a trend I'd like to see continue. Go EVs!
        • 5 Months Ago
        Boomshadow,

        http://www.getenergyactive.org/fuel/state.htm

        Check out your state's grid mix.

        But also know, that ven a EV powered exclusively with 100% coal fired-plants, still emit less CO2 than a similar class Internal Combustion vehicle.

        Well-to-Wheel emissions for a gas car the size of the Leaf is about 148 gramsCO2/km running on pure coal.

        The NISSAN Versa - 1.8 Litre / 4 Cyl Manual 6-speed (smaller than the Leaf) gets about 150 gramsCO2/km on gasoline Tank-to-Wheels. **Vehicle tail pipe emissions only**
        http://www.whatgreencar.us/view-car/8667/nissan-versa-1_8L_4cyl_Manual_6_speed

        Add 31% more emissions for Gasoline production...

        And the Versa gets 196 gramsCO2/km

        ----------------------

        So even when fully powered by coal... The leaf gets fewer CO2 emissions than a Nissan Versa.

        Now, you may want to be concerned about other Coal emissions. Like mercury... well you should also know about the additive chemicals in gasoline too. There are nasty stuff on both sides.
        • 5 Months Ago
        More like a group of recovering addicts who witnesses thugs bashing in and flattening the only Methadone clinic in the nation. So they were forced to go back on the smack (oil = black tar heroin) when all they wanted to do was to get clean.

        • 5 Months Ago
        Interesting little article in the daily mirror newspaper over here in britain.
        "electric cars give test drivers a pleasant shock"
        To summarise
        20 mini e drivers are give 6 month test drive and claim
        "they are the future of driving"
        " They found the car quicker nippier and cheaper to run"
        Dan lecturer from oxford "After the trial, I would definitely look at buying an E.V-but before the trial, no way!"

        "For daily usage it has been absolutely perfect. It's a really nice car to drive."

        mark adams " My journey from home to work is 16 miles so I have been charging it once a week. The most I have driven it is 90miles to lichfield, charging it overnight and driving back"

        "my partner and I feel we could cope with just an electric car"

        Can't seem to find the article link online

        • 5 Months Ago
        Mhm, you are totally right. I rode an electric bicycle a few weeks ago and i am now afflicted with the EV curse. I can't afford a new EV car right now, but i've got an electric bike conversion kit on the way and it's gonna replace 1 of our cars.

        And then there are those rabid folks who had a taste of electric drive with the GM EV1 and have been fuming ever since.. like a heroin junky who had the needle pulled out halfway through the dose... lol
        • 5 Months Ago
        I favor EVs for their zero emissions, but I still feel concerned about range and overall build quality. If they're all as good as the Leaf apparently is, that's a start.

        However...where will the electricity come from? What will power companies in your area consume (and emit) to keep the generators spinning? We need to make sure that the answers to those questions aren't "coal or oil" and "smoke," respectively.
        • 5 Months Ago
        ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

      • 5 Months Ago
      Looks like Nissan has done a fantastic job with the Leaf. I can't wait to take one for a spin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mike, that was deep, to deep. Over my head, above my pay grade. A riddle wrapped in a enigma.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I felt that the Leaf drives like a GTI and sets a new standard for EV's: http://www.easyecar.com/electric-vehicle-test/nissan-leaf-first-drive/

      The only thing missing is the ability to battery swap.
        • 5 Months Ago
        What? I thought they specifically included battery swapping abilities.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Bill
        No battery swapping. I don't think they had enough time. The Project Better Place battery swapping demonstration was only finished recently and many of the countries where the Leaf is sold will not have PBP involvement yet. Also, since Nissan dumped the battery lease idea for the Leaf, there is no way battery swapping will happen for the Leaf (at least for this gen). However, there is quick charging for the Leaf (20-30 minute for 80% charge).

        The car that will have battery swapping is the Renault Fluence ZE, which supposedly will have a battery lease option and will have the hardware for battery swapping.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I drive nine miles, one way to work. If the heat and AC work as well as an ICE, then It looks like it will work well for me.

      I have a F150 Lariat for those long rides to the lake camp, so the two kind of balance each other out. (sort of)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think most people will find that the driving characteristics of an electric powertrain are far superior.

      Gas motors are just the opposite, the majority of the torque comes in mid-late powerband. Whereas an electric motor feels unstoppable the second you press on the pedal, till you're at high RPM.. where you should be slowing down anyway.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Don't be concerned. This is how electric motors work.

        A very Linear acceleration. Flat torque curve.

        A gas engine only has proper acceleration at high speeds because of transmissions. So EVs "feel" very different.

        0-30 mph times are very high. That is where the "sporty" comes from. But that acceleration is linear and it doesn't spike up with the next gear shift like a gasser.

        ---------------------

        Low end torque is where the fun is at. EVs have 100% at 0 rpm. So they have the best.

        Turbo Diesels like my VW are pretty good off the line. I can beat gassers twice my HP rating all the way up to 35 mph... they whoop my tailpipe after that though.

        And so it will be for the Leaf. Beating V6 gas cars off the line easily. But just make sure you are only racing a short distance... the next block. Then turn off into a side street. ;P
        • 5 Months Ago
        I'm concerned too. But the punch is right where you need it, in city / low speed driving, so that's good. This may mean that it gets drastically slower after 40mph or so though..... :(

        Maybe they geared the car for maximum highway miles per charge? i hear an electric motor is most efficient at it's highest RPM after all.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I'm concerned/suspicious about the autocar quoted 11.5 sec 0-60 time. If the car accelerates like a V6 car off the line, it must slow down in a hurry to take over 11 sec... I'm used to my wife's 2005 MDX which gets to 60 in 7.X sec with its V6.

        I can't wait to try it, but it's funny to me that the car is getting such strong reviews if this time is accurate.

        Side note: I found these times online when I looked up the 0-60 of the Nissan Versa:
        "Acceleration is decent for the segment with the 1.6-liter engine and manual transmission, the Versa's 0-60-mph sprint takes 9.5 seconds. This ties the time logged by the Hyundai Accent and is a few paces ahead of the 10.2-second time posted by the Honda Fit."
        • 5 Months Ago
        They didn't want to drain the battery too much, that is why it doesn't stay nippy at higher speeds.
        It is really not difficult to increase the oomph, as long as the power supply is adequate.
        Nissan has indicated that when they bring out their premium Infiniti model it will have better acceleration - I would guess they will not do it until around 2015 when they have double power batteries available, although of course they could just put in a bigger battery pack.
        A question for the engineering types here: would they likely do it by putting in capacitors, which would give more efficient regen and a power boost when needed, or would providing gearing help?
        In any case, I would have thought that it would be controlled by a sports mode switch, so you only use it when you know that you are not going far.
        • 5 Months Ago
        The motor on the Leaf is 80kw, and the battery is rated at 90kw.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I wouldn't worry about 0-60 times too much. Consider when flooring from 0 using electric motor you will always get a perfect start. Rapid accelerating in ICE may not be as pleasant or easy. I've to deal with clutch (it's easy to spin wheels), rev like hell and shift fast and whole "experience" is hardly comfortable, or smooth.

        My guess is Nissan put some limiters in engine computer too. That's to avoid excessive drain on battery and eventual overheating of motor. Expect some "chip/firmware" mods eventually. :)
        • 5 Months Ago
        Sounds very much like my Ford Ranger EV, it's very snappy off the line, I can easily outpace V8 SUV (with their engines roaring) up to about 35 MPH where they start to catch up. But after that the speed gains don't seem the same. It's actually due to a constant rate of acceleration of an EV. While an ICE will be ramping up the HP as the engine spins faster, an EV still has the same HP as when it started spinning. According to Siemens (who makes the motor in the Ranger EV) it's only 35HP - Ford rated it at 95HP. The electronics limit the current draw to 150A max, @300V, that's 45KW or 60HP.
        • 5 Months Ago
        It's the different torque characteristics of electric motors.
        They tend to go off the line like your scalectrix model, although the engine management on the Leaf tones this down a bit I understand to make the driving experience more petrol car like and avoid shunting the car in front.
        At higher speeds though the puff runs out to some extent, and more importantly Nissan will not have gone for high speed grunt, as it takes too much juice due to wind resistance at speed.
        So what you have is an ideal city car, which is great at the traffic lights, but not one which is ideally suited to high speed overtaking on the highway - but then again if you are cruising at 80mph you won't be doing so for very long.

        It does what it says on the tin - it is a comfortable spacious city car, which is also well up for a quick burst along the highway, but you won't be doing any road trips in.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Just a bigger motor and either upgraded or more batteries.. but I may go into business and offer an oxygen-free copper wiring harness for the LEAF :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Autocar notes that the Leaf is not very photogenic"

      Finally, someone has come out and said it! We're such big fans of the technology that it feels almost taboo to mention it, but the Leaf looks like a fish!
        • 5 Months Ago
        clipsinite:

        Funny, because I have been comparing the Leaf's rear end to the Quests I see around town. It also bears a resemblance to the Murano for that matter.

        As for "not photogenic", the original author commented on that. He said it looks better in person, see. I'm not photogenic either, but that's not because I'm ugly. It's because I look like an idiot when people take pictures of me. I give the photographer funny looks, or talk, or slouch, or really, anything but pose for the camera.

        The thing with the Leaf's styling is that it's unique, without looking like some crazy-ass prototype from a mad scientist's lab, like some other electric cars do. I can handle that. If you ask me, it looks like a hatchback. With boo-tay. ;)
        • 5 Months Ago
        Nissan is brilliant!

        They really learned a good lesson from Toyota's success with the Prius.

        Making a car LOOK different so that every car is an advertisement billboard. Whether you love the design or hate it... you will notice "immediately" if one drives within your peripheral vision.

        And they were smart to jump on that noise maker too. So now, you don't even have to see the Leaf to know it is there.

        The more people notice the Leaf... the more attention the Zero Emissions campaign will get... the better the sales for Nissan.
        • 5 Months Ago
        They really overdid it with the "face".. a frontal shot gives you the full effect of the mouth, the nose and even the eyes (headlights) smiling. Crazy Japanese!
        clipsinite
        • 5 Months Ago
        At least it doesn't look like a mini minivan like the Honda Fit/Jazz.
        • 5 Months Ago
        If you don't like the looks of the Leaf, you could hang on for the Bluecar:
        http://green.autoblog.com/2009/09/26/bluecar-confirmed-to-be-on-sale-next-year/

        More range, too, around 155 miles - $485/mo, they say.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @David Martin

        A major design feature of the Blue Car (what gives it is athleticism) is the angular paint job on the rocker panels. I wonder how a similar paint job would look on the LEAF.

        On future models I can already see Nissan

        A) Changing the power connector lid mechanism so that it retracts back into the car and stays out of the way.

        B) Rearranging the A/C vents on the center console so that the navigation screen can be repositioned closer to the top, aligning itself with the street view.
        • 5 Months Ago
        And you think a fish is bad design?

        In my opinion is really a handsome design. It looks like an EV. The charger access door is a central design theme. It is honest and has some graceful lines. Just because it does not look like an ICE car does not make it ugly. Funny that people will talk about this car while accepting that clumsy looking doghouse of a design that is the Prius.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Excuse me....I meant a tadpole...which is not a fish :-)
        • 5 Months Ago
        I maintain that it looks like a poison dart frog.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Evan,
        It does NOT look like a fish...it looks like a guppy gasping for it's first (or possibly it's last) breath :-)
        • 5 Months Ago
        The sad thing is that the Leaf looks better than most Nissans.... LOL.

        Good thing that the powertrain is what really sells the car.. ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      First all the positive reports from people who actually drove the iMiev in the trials in London and were very happy with it, now all the people who actually get to drive the Leaf are all walking away grinning.

      Time for the haters to come out and gripe about the range, the batteries, the price, the whatever your favorite reason to hate on EVs is, please fill in the blank here __________. LOL

      You know, these are great cars that will work great for some people today, and even more people tomorrow as the range continues to improve. If you don't like them now, then don't buy them and wait till they are ready for you. But let the rest of us enjoy what is there now!
        • 5 Months Ago
        I am glad they liked it, but really the hyperbole is not necessary. You should look at the original article.They compare the acceleration to a base petrol Golf that you cannot buy in the US that is about 12 seconds 0-60. The base Golf here is 7.8 seconds 0-60 while the TDI version is 8.5 seconds. OK, it is probably the 1.2 liter. Then they compare the cost as reasonably close to the Golf. But that Golf if $15K pounds about half the cost of the Leaf. So the truth is the performance is base Golf, but the price is comparable to large engined high performance luxury Golf. Is Nissan paying Autocar to say this stuff? And if they are this disingenuous, can you believe the rest of what they say?
        • 5 Months Ago
        Interesting little article in the daily mirror newspaper over here in britain.
        "electric cars give test drivers a pleasant shock"
        To summarise
        20 mini e drivers are give 6 month test drive and claim
        "they are the future of driving"
        " They found the car quicker nippier and cheaper to run"
        Dan lecturer from oxford "After the trial, I would definitely look at buying an E.V-but before the trial, no way!"

        "For daily usage it has been absolutely perfect. It's a really nice car to drive."

        mark adams " My journey from is 16 miles so I have been charging it once a week. The most I have driven it is 90miles to lichfield, charging it overnight and driving back"

        "my partner and I feel we could cope with just an electric car"
        • 5 Months Ago
        @ wincros

        0-60 sec times are good for ICE compared to ICE. But are very misleading when comparing EVs with 100% torque at 0 rpm.

        For example, an EV with the same exact 0-60 mph time as a gasoline car... would have a substantially better 0-30 mph time. And 80% of the time, that is what you want from the car.

        0 to 60 mph in a single straight run is only for 2 things:

        1) For track racing

        2) And highway on ramps. And most people are already driving at least 25 mph when they start the acceleration to highway merging speed.

        ---------------------------------------

        - "that Golf if $15K pounds about half the cost of the Leaf."

        I didn't know the Leaf costs 30K Pounds ($44K) in the U.K.
        Funny, in the U.S., The Leaf is only $25K (17K Pounds) after incentives.

        I would call that comparable. And so would Autocar.
      • 5 Months Ago
      "the overwhelming majority of reviews are extremely positive"

      Because test drives have typically been driving it around a track with a full battery and nowhere in particular to go. Unfortunately, 10 minute test drives don't indicate how the car will stand up in the real world.

      My fiancee had to make a 40 mile detour the other day because of an accident on a bridge. Did the Leaf test drives require an unexpected detour along a route with no charging stations, and ask the drivers how they felt about it?
        • 5 Months Ago
        It's the Black Swan, the low-frequency/high-impact events, that can make or break a technology. Just think of the Hindenberg Disaster that killed dirigible flight or the Gulf oil spill, which is now forcing us to reevaluate deep sea drilling.

        With a limited utility vehicle, like the Leaf, you probably wouldn't get into a situation that would require going on a 40 mile detour; however, there are plenty of Black Swans waiting out there to waylay you.

        Let's set up another, more likely, scenario. The car was charged up in the morning, but you've done your commute and now you're heading out for a dinner party. You've calculated the route and figure there's enough charge left. While you're at the party, a cold-front moves in; there's been a horrific accident on the I-35W bridge, which is now closed; and you have to make a 12 mile detour over to the 169 bridge to get across the Minnesota River Valley. The temperature has dropped. Your wife has pumps on her feet. The Sorrels and the parka are back home in the closet. You can't turn off the heat, traffic is at a crawl, and now you're in trouble.

        Operating great under ideal conditions is easy. It's the unplanned events that are the true test of a new system. These tests are not "strawmen." They're real, live impediments that will be thrown in your path.

        You need enthusiasts, with money, to get new technology started and be the beta testers for the rest of us. But enthusiasm should not be confused with capability.
        • 5 Months Ago
        40 mile detour? That sounds like something that will happen in only a few places in the entire united states. And a very, very infrequent event even so.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Your fiancee is really unlucky in needing to keep making detours, but at least she has done better than the one she had to make yesterday, when it took an hour!
        • 5 Months Ago
        @David Martin: lol - my thoughts exactly!

        @ Gary: I'll just reiterate what I said the last time you posted this in that other thread:

        How many miles was the whole trip? Was it 90+ degrees out? I get that the idea of being stranded in a rural area is daunting, but "did the Leaf test drives require an unexpected detour along a route with no charging stations, and ask the drivers how they felt about it?" Nope, because that's not what this first run electric car was designed/intended for. Your same example could've been said of ICE cars 100 years ago - EVs right now aren't yet suitable for everybody in every situation.

        Even so, the widely published "worst case scenario" range of the Leaf is 47 miles. Specifically: "When you’re crawling along in CITY traffic in the summer with the air conditioning on, it’s a different story. In that case (86 degrees and 6 mph on average) your battery will be dead in just 47 miles. But if you’re a HIGHWAY commuter in a heat wave—say 55 miles per hour, 95-degree heat and the air conditioning on— your range will be around 70 miles."

        I'd rather have range anxiety 1% of the time than carry around a several-hundred-pound-ICE-range-extender and not use it 99% of the time.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I-40 through the mountains was closed for quite some time - that detour would have messed people up for months...

        http://www.citizen-times.com/assets/pdf/B01453201027.PDF

        http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20091027/NEWS01/91027019/Recommended-detour-for-I-40-rock-slide

        Just saying, even thought it's open now, it's still one lane only, which cause lots of congestion in an area where you'd need your heat on from September to April.
        • 5 Months Ago
        A 40 mile detour is like a once in lifetime thing. I have never had a detour add more than 5 miles to any trip in my life.

        And no more than half a mile in the city where an EV will typically live.
        • 5 Months Ago
        40 mile detour? Damn, I think I would have just stopped for dinner and waited for the accident to clear.

        Move out of the sticks.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Stupid argument through and through. The same thing could happen to you in a ICE car if you did not have enough gas. Say she started out with a quarter tank or less because she knew she could make it to her destination, oh but then a detour came up, either way she is stuck on the side of the road.

        Yes, your at a party with your wife and your pushing range. Pull your head out and plug in when you get to the party and give your self some cushion. Oh wait maybe your all in the dark and their is no electricity in the whole town. Oops, now you can't get gas because their is no electricity for the pumps. On and on. Lemmings and fools that's what I say, lemmings and fools.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Hmmm... was the original planned trip more than 100 miles?

        Cause a long distance (out of town) trip is the only kind of trip that could have a 40 mile detour.

        Your wife would not have even taken a Nissan Leaf on that trip.

        Strawman 0 - Truth 1

      • 4 Years Ago
      Autocar: "Power delivery from the CVT is silky smooth"

      What CVT? It's an electric motor through a single-speed transmission, no? Nissan FAQ: "A: There is no transmission in an electric car, but the experience is like driving an automatic."
        • 5 Months Ago
        Sounds like they were confused by the lack of shifts, and assumed it had a CVT. You/'re right, of course, no transmission needed, no shifting of gears, no clutch or torque converter.
      • 5 Months Ago
      winner, winner - chicken dinner, nissan.
      That's what I think.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Mike, that was deep, to deep. Over my head, above my pay grade. A riddle wrapped in a enigma.

        • 5 Months Ago
        @EVsuperhero

        I was referencing free-range chickens - housed in lightweight geo-thermally and passively-solar heated humane shelters.

        They are good for eating and can apparently be readily traded for health care in some parts of fhe country.

        They are simultaneously the answer to many questions and the questions to many answers.
        • 5 Months Ago
        You know how they raise chickens now days. They can't even walk due to scientific designs to grow fast and produce abnormal large breasts. The scientist should just make their breast silicone and feed them to the public for dinner.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another UK magazine "WhatCar?" also reviewed it and gave it 5 stars, their top rating

      http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/all-electric-nissan-leaf-driven/250533
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