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Nissan LEAF – Future of Green Transport

By Chris Pentago

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100% Electric. 100% Fun.

Nissan LEAF

According to most global scientists, environmentalists, major corporations, governments and many others, the effect of global warming on the climate is the biggest problem that faces the environment today.

 

But global warming is often associated with our own man-made activities such as burning coal, petroleum and natural gas. There are so many things we can do at individual levels to reduce global warming. This is what has inspired me to evaluate the environmental impact of anything that I buy or do.

 

For example, when I went shopping for a car, there was no doubt in my mind that for me to be fair to the environment, I must buy an eco-friendly car; which is automatically an electric car.

 

But since there are many electric cars, I had to consider many other factors, such as cost, efficiency, performance, design, interior etc, to settle on the best one.

 

Although the search was a bit difficult, I landed on the Klosters’ news page about one vehicle and my work was made much easier after reading what Nissan LEAF had to offer in terms of efficiency and running costs, I was convinced that Nissan LEAF was the best choice for me. Also, I really enjoyed Nissan’s support to LEAF drivers with their battery replacement program.

 

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It’s only a month since I bought the car and I can proudly say that I’m getting the value for every cent I spent on the car. My experience with the 2013 Nissan LEAF has been amazing so far but that does not mean that it has some cons.

 

Great Design

 

 

I like the new LEAF’s design which is an intriguing blend of the utterly and the revolutionary conventional. The uniquely designed headlights offer more than styling effects. The LED cluster deviates airflow away from my door mirrors, thereby reducing aerodynamic drag.

 

 

It has prominent rear lights and rear spoiler which separates airflow around the car rear, thereby reducing the drag coefficient. The idea of placing the car’s charging sockets in its nose is convenient as most charging points are at the end of the parking space instead of the middle.

 

Comforting Interior

Perhaps what attracted to me to Nissan LEAF is its comforting interiors. Although the cabin is relatively conventional in terms of layout, its light gray cabin is airy and cheerful. The mat interior finish is simply amazing.

 

I like the refined and pleasant nature of the cabin. The driving position is modestly high and ergonomically sound. Its pedals are well-spaced. There is a clear split-level display with speedometer above the steering wheel.

 

The dashboard’s center consists of nearly all IT systems, such as Sat Nav, vehicle monitoring systems and entertainment. My favorite feature is the ability to monitor the LEAF’s charging status right from my smartphone. I can also use my smartphone to remotely start the air conditioning.

 

Mobile Access

 

 

The LEAF also comes with a 6.6-kW charger, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a hybrid heater system, a navigation system, a 6-speaker audio system and a 7-inch touchscreen.

 

Other features include automatic LED headlights and a quick-charge port which allow the battery to charge to 80% capacity in only half an hour at high-voltage charging stations.

 

The rest of the car’s interior is as perfectly conventional as other family cars. The legroom and headroom are comfortable enough while the size of the boot is average.

 

 

The LEAF can be charged on the standard 110V household outlet, but this is more suitable for overnight charging as it takes many hours. I opted for the 220V home charging station which only takes four hours to fully charge the Nissan LEAF using the 6.6-kW charger.

 

Performance

The LEAF’s instant torque and predictable power make it one of the best cars around. Handling is equally decent while the steering is defined. Its light and linear nature make it suitable for urban use. Turn-in is perfectly sharp, there is an ample grip and the Nissan LEAF is totally predictable, safe and enjoyable to drive.

 

Unlike the original version, the new 2013 LEAF is a more improved motorway vehicle with good feel at high speeds. The steering is weightier at all speeds too. The 2013 LEAF is powered by an 80 kWh electric motor driven a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery. The LEAF accelerates from 0-60 mph in only 11 seconds.

 

Safety

The new LEAF comes with a lot of safety features, such as antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front airbags and side curtain airbags. The SV model has a 360-degree-view monitor.

 

Riding

The 2013 LEAF is cruising pretty silently with just a vague whine noticeable under heavy throttle. However, this high-pitched noise can only be detected by pedestrians and not in the cabin. However, the road and wind noise are more prominent at high speeds.

 

Since it’s an electric car, the LEAF offers quick acceleration from a stop. The brake pedal of the LEAF feel is precise, firm and do not have the vague feel associated with most regenerative braking systems.

 

The precise electric-powered steering system and the mounting of the battery pack at a low level in the car body makes the Nissan LEAF steady around turns. The LEAF responds pretty well like other engineered compact family vehicles.

 

Competitors

The 2013 Nissan LEAF competitors include a wide variety of plug-in and battery-powered electric cars. Its fiercest competitor is the 2013 Chevrolet Volt. The range-extending engine of the Volt beats the range anxiety of the LEAF but adds more complexity and is more costly than the LEAF.

 

Another worthy competitor is the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid car with a low 6-11 mile electric range. However, plug-in newbies have security concerns about the Prius. Although the Ford Focus Electric and Mitsubishi i-MiEV pose a formidable challenge, the LEAF has beat them in sales.

 

 

EV Vehicles Stats

 

For what it’s worth, according to TheEcologist, electric cars, at this moment, are outselling conventional vehicles in Norway, country with the world’s highest rate of EV ownership. This alone is pretty solid proof of what’s the future of clean, green transportation.

 

Imagine pairing technology like this with solar power?

 

 

Conclusion

 

Despite the LEAF’s limited range, it is an excellent urban car and an able family car with great levels of comfort and refinement. If you are passionate about the environment like me, then you will certainly love the fact that it emits nothing, be it CO2 or pollutants.

 

The Nissan LEAF also offers a good sense of style, without being too outlandish in the quest to showcase the advanced technology of the car.

Published on Feb 25, 2014

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