IT is billed as the world’s first purpose-built, all-electric family car and goes on sale in March. The Sun has got its hands on the first Nissan Leaf in the UK and asked ex-Top Gear driver BEN COLLINS to test-drive it.
The controls illuminate like a nightclub and chime a few soothing chords – the first and final sounds you hear from this machine. OK, don’t expect a punch in the ribs when you hit the accelerator. The 80 kilowatts is the electronic way of saying a bit over 100bhp.
That puts owners lower down the food chain in terms of performance but they get their own back in so many other ways. When the weather freezes overnight, you can remote-activate the Leaf with your iPhone in advance of driving to work and command it to defrost the windows. And when it comes to servicing, the Leaf has no gearbox to shatter, exhaust to rust or oil filter to change.
Its electric motor and silent running gear ensure the only indication of motion is the rush of air as the carefully crafted suspension glides you along the road. The Leaf has a top speed of 100mph and a range of 100 miles, so city dwellers should easily cope with the recharging. And each refill at the socket will set you back a whopping £2.40 and take just 30 minutes from an express charger to get to an 80 per cent charge from empty .
It will be possible to fill up at supermarkets and other enlightened outlets springing up around the country. The Leaf is such a cushioned ride that the wheels caress manhole covers. When you lean on it for spirited cornering, the car responds with mild slippage from the front wheels.
All in all, it is superbly balanced, with its weighty battery cells fitted into the chassis floor to help plant the vehicle to the road. The feather-light steering means it is not aimed at European tastes but a global market, so that anyone from an 80-year-old to a newly licensed teenager can guide the glowbox with ease. The brakes feel normal, in spite of the complex systems working behind the scenes to harness “lost” energy.
Electric-powered vehicles were pioneered more than 100 years ago, so it’s remarkable that the powers shaping human history have managed to conceal their advantages for so long. The secret is finally out and the dawn of a new driving era is arriving. The Leaf costs £24,000 and runs on British-sourced electricity. Hopefully.
Read the full article in The Sun