2011 Nissan LEAF Road Test Review

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Published on March 02, 2011

Other than an eerie silence, it drives just like a conventionally powered compact hatchback. (Photo: Nissan)

Published on March 02, 2011

The LEAF's interior lets everyone know they're in something truly special. (Photo: Nissan)

Published on March 02, 2011

The LEAF is as green as you can get. (Photo: Nissan)

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

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Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

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Published on March 02, 2011

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Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

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Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

Published on March 02, 2011

At the touch of the on/off switch, the delightful tinkling of a melodic set of chimes announces we're all set to drive the first practical, five-passenger, fully electric car on sale in North America.

And-it's a Nissan?

Having made their bones on cars like GT-R, Maxima and Z, one would hardly expect this purveyor of high-performance to suddenly be the worldwide leader in electric vehicle (EV) technology. But it is. Nissan has brought forth a fully formed, well thought out product, distinctive only in that it isn't distinctive at all.

Built on a unique platform, Nissan's LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) was designed from the ground up as an EV. Powered by an 80 kW AC motor (about 107 horsepower), producing 280 Nm of torque (about 207 ft-lbs), LEAF has a top speed of 145 km/h (90 mph) and will accelerate to 100 km/h in about seven seconds. The battery pack contains 48 modules, each hosting four laminated lithium-ion cells, for a total of 192 cells. Fully charged, the batteries store 24 kWh of electricity, enough to give Nissan's EV a range of 160 km.

After a day spent with the car in a variety of circumstances; touring through the countryside, creeping in stop and go traffic on the freeway, doing shopping runs to local malls, we came away quite impressed. LEAF is quiet, smooth, very quick, and more than capable of holding its own in any traffic situation.

With its low centre of gravity (the 300-kilo/660-pound battery pack is mounted beneath the floor), LEAF handles nicely, corners competently and is well balanced. Steering feel is superb and the brakes are absolutely delicious. A full drive report will have to wait until we've been able to really live with the car, but our first impression is quite good.

Remarkably comfortable, with a host of comfort and convenience features including Bluetooth and navigation as standard equipment, LEAF is more than ready for prime time. There may be some initial concern among consumers about driving range, but after spending a week monitoring our travels in a conventional car, we're inclined to concede most people simply do not drive more than 160 miles per day.

Recharging the battery pack from depleted to about 80 percent of maximum can take as little as 30 minutes with a quick charger. Recharging with the AC200V charger takes just under eight hours. In other words, drive it all day, bring it home, plug it in. The next day LEAF's ready to go-with no stop at a gas station.

Note from the editor: Unlike in the U.S. where the federal government offers a $7,500 USD tax credit for those who purchase a plug-in vehicle, Canada's national powers that be offer no subsidies or incentives to those who want to go electric. However, some provinces, including BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and PEI, offer tax rebates/credits that range between $1,000 and $3,000 for hybrid purchases, while Ontario has upped the ante to $8,500 for plug-in types, such as the LEAF.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, EV, Nissan, 2011, Leaf, $40,000 - $49,999, Electric,

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