The Hype is Real
Hype is a dangerous thing. Whenever a manufacturer of any product begins its marketing campaign on its latest release, they are taking a seriously large risk. Although the item may have passed all the in-house tests, the real world often serves up the maker a serious dose of reality when it gets into consumer's hands.
Remember New Coke? If you don't, damn you and your youth! If you do, you'll recall that Coke unleashed the biggest name in Hollywood at the time, paying Bill Cosby big bucks to say: “New Coke is the best Coke, ever!” The flop and outrage were monumental, and Coke returned to the original formula a very short while later. This was a very costly mistake.
Nissan has put itself out there. A little over two years ago, it said that it was going to be the first full-line car manufacturer to introduce a full-electric production car to the world. They since have, and everybody knows what it's called. Cleverly, Nissan called it the LEAF (in capital letters, thank you very much).
The LEAF is as organic as any plant you may have in your house. Other than perhaps its looks, the LEAF is all good. Good for the environment, good to drive and good to get around in. Like a nice chrysanthemum, the LEAF has an aura of goodness about it. Its friendly nature permeates the immediate environment that it’s in and has a positive effect on those in it. Driving the LEAF flips your misconceptions about EVs on their ear, and gets you scoffing at those around you polluting with their gas-powered automobiles.
The weekend I had the LEAF, my wife and I went shopping downtown. It's as if the LEAF led us there – we always go to our local 'burb mega-mall – to demonstrate how relevant it could be in an urban setting. My wife and I were nothing short of amazed by the car's zippyness and incredibly smooth and linear operation. Traffic was, as it always is, terrible along the main arteries. The LEAF took it all in stride, and silently and surely shot us in whichever direction I pointed the front wheels.
The LEAF's 80-kW AC synchronous motor (107 hp) generates instant torque, which is immediately channelled through the direct drive transmission and then on to the front wheels. Throttle response is as good as any typical compact car, especially when in normal Drive mode. Flip the shifter into “D” a second time and that puts a thoughtful choke hold on battery-sapping accelerations by swapping Drive for ECO.