Blog : Why the Nissan Leaf could well work for me…

Keith Adams

Nissan Leaf meets Rover SD1.

Nissan Leaf meets Rover SD1.

Seems ironic doesn’t it? I have a V8 powered car that I love to bits, and which struggles to beat 20mpg; and I also work for a magazine called Octane and here I am saying how great the Nissan Leaf is. But hear me out, and you might be surprised.

As some of you might know, AROnline is ten years old, and to celebrate we held a small meeting at Gaydon where some of our readers came along and enjoyed the cakes, trivia quiz and a talk in the museum’s cinema given by Ian Pogson and Mike Gould. It was a great day, and one that helped me appreciate just how much enjoyment you’re getting from this site. Anyway, one of those readers was Chris Wood, an engineer working for Nissan GB – and for fun (and the fact the weather was far too grim for him to bring his amazing 3500 SD1 along) he brought a Nissan Leaf along.

Well, I say a Leaf as though it’s any old car – it’s actually the first European spec car – and still owned by the company. Very generously, he let some of the AROnline readers have a play in the car, including me. First thing’s first, it’s not the first electric car I’ve driven – I’m fortunate enough to have tried out the Th!nk, a Tesla, and prototype Proton Saga with an innovative Frazer-Nash developed drive system with digital differential. All very different, and in their own way, incredibly interesting.

The Nissan Leaf, though is something else completely. You can go out and buy one of these today, for a start. Jumping in, it’s clear than Nissan has put an awful lot of effort into making the car feel very special. The build quality is excellent, and the control set both simple and logical. It’s the ultimate iCar – so much so that you can plumb it into you iPhone and warm it up before you get in. But onto the drive. I didn’t actually go very far, but what the silent and sprightly Leaf did do (and I would love to have one for a week to actually see if this works in daily life) was reinforce my belief that a well-sorted electric car could really work for me in my life.

My commute is ten miles each way, and it’s boring beyond belief, with stop-start traffic punctuated by country lanes where you never get above 40mph because everyone’s dawdling. And an electric car would be perfect for this. Jump in; drive; arrive at work… There’s no range issues, and certainly no prospect of running out of performance, given the give and take nature of my run. Job done. Perfect. And when I get back home, I plug it in ready for the next day. And I’ve burned no fossil fuels, enjoyed a relaxing, responsive drive during the week – and all the carbon I’ve offset allows me to drive my SD1 at the weekend guilt-free.

Sounds perfect to me.

Posted in: AROnline Blogs, Leaf
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

10 Comments on "Blog : Why the Nissan Leaf could well work for me…"

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  1. Andrew Elphick says:

    Sheepishly, I must agree with Keith… I drove both the white cars above and obviously the Leaf tramples the SD1 hands down, well it would its a 34 year old car. The acceleration was incredibly linear, and on par with the 24valve straight six I usually use. The leaf didn’t drive like a dogem.

    However crank the window down in the leaf, blip the throttle (potentionmeter?) and – well silence. It need’s a noise, any noise, but a noise. Nissan how about an external speaker, and a range of apps? I’ll have a Leaf that sounds like a LS1 please!

  2. John Hackett says:

    Keith, that’s one of the most reasonable arguments for an electric car I’ve read. As someone who isn’t the slightest bit bothered about “the planet”, the environmental reasons for electric cars have never moved me personally. However, as a convenient tool for modern everyday driving, your reasoning really works.

    Love the SD1…

  3. maffc says:

    A compelling argument for personal economics, however the green credentials are a huge conceit
    You may of not burnt any fossil fuels, but the great hulking great power stations that supplies electric to our homes quit posibly do.
    According to the the fuel mix disclosure for 2009/2010, 87.8% of the UK’s electrcity was generated from power stations using fossil fuels.
    In addition to the cost of manufacturing the drive train components, battery, motors, etc which require special metals and minerals transported halfway round the globe and back again they aren’t very green at all.
    But then that wasn’t your argument for the leaf in the 1st place

  4. Will says:

    @Andrew Elphick
    External Speaker? Range of Apps?

    It is bad enough having certain motorists play their “boom, boom, boom” noises at full volume from their internal speakers and subwoofers, never mind hearing their choice of music from external speakers! 🙂

  5. Engineer says:

    The leaf is fitted with an audiable device in other countries to make pedestrians aware of its presence. In the UK such devices must be switchable as they’re banded at night time (think about truck reversing beepers at 3.00am and you’ll know why). Until Nissan install the switch UK leaf’s will be silent!

  6. Andrew says:

    Although I love my Scirocco to pieces I confess, a vehicle such as the Leaf would fit my needs 95% of the time. And for the other 5%, a hire car would probably work out cost effective.

    The future…?

  7. Sixtyten says:

    You’d like to assume, given that the cheapest Nissan Leaf comes a fraction shy of £26,000, that it is well screwed together.

  8. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    You could argue that the SD1 is a greener car than the Leaf – after all, you can keep it running for years without having use the earth’s resources in the manufacture of a new car. Or if you want a compromise between those two extremes, a seven year old Fiesta will get you to work well enough I guess, albeit highly uninterestingly!

  9. Tim_Burgess Tim Burgess says:

    For those amongst us who commute from point A (home to point b (office) and stay there for 8 /9 hours, then drive home your logic is unassailable.

    For me, driving 16 miles to the nearest town, then hoppping from customer to customer, potentially doing another drive to the next town, making it easy to rack up 100+ miles in a day. Maybe when they perfect 1 hour charging or extend the range it might work for me.

  10. Tim_Burgess Tim Burgess says:

    As an aside, I see you mention the electric Proton Saga. I think Proton also have a hybrid Gen-2 in prototype as well

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