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.