Nissan Leaf Test Drive

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Today, Cathy and I both got to drive the Nissan Leaf test vehicle, apparently a Nissan Versa outfitted with the Leaf's drivetrain. Coincidentally, last week we rented a Versa on vacation, so we were treated to a virtual side-by-side test of gas versus electric. They had a course laid out with cones in a parking lot, which I treated as a small autocross course. The test vehicle handled well and had good pick-up, better than the gas-burning Versa.


Most interesting was how quiet it was. The Roadster has a loud gearbox whine when accelerating, plus road and wind noise. The whine is much quieter than a gas engine doing similar acceleration, but it's not silent. The RAV4-EV has a comparable road noise level, maybe a few dB below the Roadster and minus the loud drivetrain whine. Both the Roadster and RAV4-EV are about 7 to 8 dB noisier than Cathy's parents' Honda Accord doing 60 mph on the same section of average freeway surface. (We measured all three vehicles with a Radio Shack sound level meter.) The Nissan test vehicle was very quiet from the inside, I think quieter than the Accord, but we didn't do any measurements. From the outside, you hear the same tire sound you hear from any decent modern sedan.

Before buying, I'd want to take it for a real test drive, get it up to speed on the freeway, etc. That said, based on our test drive today, I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is an early adopter, very interested in driving an all-electric family sedan, and whose driving habits could be met by the Leaf's range.

That assumes that Nissan doesn't bungle the whole thing by forcing buyers into some ludicrous over-priced battery lease.





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This page contains a single entry by Tom Saxton published on December 9, 2009 8:50 PM.

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