Test Drive of the Nissan Leaf - a family size electric car

Photograph of the Nissan Leaf

When Paula received an invitation to test drive the new electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, I jumped at the chance!

So I rolled up at the Nissan dealership at Marsh Barton and joined the queue of people waiting to have a go. Whilst I
waited, I was shown the showroom model and given all the usual statistics.

The Leaf is a "real" car. Top speed 90 mph, carries 5 passengers in comfort and safety, offers a level of performance similar to other cars of its size, but with no exhaust pipe emissions.

A full charge of its 48 module lithium ion battery gives it a range of about 100 miles. A full charge expends 24 KWh (units) of electricity and costs about £3 at todays electricity costs, far cheaper per mile that a petrol or diesel car. A full charge takes 8 hours and so needs to be carried out whilst the car is parked at work or at home overnight. It can be charged to 80% capacity in less than 30 minutes using a special 50KW DC quick charger, but few of these facilities exist at the moment. Nissan is working with Renault in an alliance to develop partnerships with governments, both national and local, and businesses to develop a comprehensive battery charging infrastructure through public and private investment. However until that battery charging infrastructure is in place this car will only be useful for local journeys.

I asked how the car coped with hills and whether the range was impacted by hilly terrain. Apparently the range is not impacted as energy is reclaimed when the car is braking or coasting on downhill runs. In fact a careful eco-driver can extend the car's range to 120 miles. Anyway enough of the stats as I finally got my turn at the wheel.

On getting into the car I was impressed by its comfort and roominess. I was joined by a Nissan employee whose job it is to demonstrate the car around the UK.

The car is an automatic, start the engine, press the accelerator to go, press the brake to stop , simple stuff. So I started the engine and there was silence. You hardly knew the car was idling. The noise levels were no higher as I manouvered carefully out of the car choked dealership forecourt.

Now on the road we drove through some roundabouts and made it to the A30 where I was allowed to put my foot down, briefly. The car accelerated well, certainly as well as our Citroen Picasso. You could notice some noise now as at 50mph there was some wind noise , but still the relative silence was impressive. Round another roundabout and back along the dual carriage way back to Marsh Barton and into the forecourt where using the rear view video camera I reversed into the parking space reserved for the Leaf.

I was very impressed and if I could have afforded the £23,000 price tag, would have put my name down on the waiting list there and then.