What is a Nissan LEAF?
Similar to its closest competitor, the Ford Focus Electric, which is another 5-door, 5-passenger compact hatchback with front-wheel drive, the 2013 Nissan LEAF has no engine/generator, making it a fully electric, zero-emissions car -- unlike, say, the Chevrolet Volt.
The LEAF boasts a slightly futuristic cabin you should still feel right at home in, and a quiet operation that will leave you speechless.
2013 Nissan LEAF Price and Specs
There are three trim levels to choose from: the S at $31,698, SV at $34,998, and the SL at $38,398. However, 2013 Nissan LEAF buyers and leasers get up to $8,600 in provincial rebates (in Quebec), dropping its actual entry fee to under $24,000. Residents of other provinces will have to check rebate levels at their local Nissan dealer.
Powering the 2013 Nissan LEAF is a high-response, 80kW AC synchronous electric motor rated at 107 horsepower. This may sound quite modest, but it's all backed by 187 lb-ft of readily accessible torque.
The motor draws energy from a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear seat. Thanks to a 6.6kW onboard charger, the 2013 Nissan LEAF fully charges in 15-20 hours through a regular 120V power outlet or just four hours using the available 240V home charging dock.
Driving the 2013 Nissan LEAF
Just as I experienced with the Ford Focus Electric, driving the 2013 Nissan LEAF proved to be completely silent beyond the inevitable tire noise. You don't hear the electric motor, while the body structure is extremely stiff and well insulated, perhaps even more than its American rival.
The suspension ensures great balance in corners, always keeping body roll under control. In normal driving conditions, like your daily commute to work, the 2013 Nissan LEAF will meet pretty much all your expectations.
There are no major irritants with this car. Even smaller drivers will have an easy time finding an excellent position behind the wheel. Overall, I'd say I enjoyed driving the 2013 Nissan LEAF more than the Focus Electric.
Inside and Out of the 2013 Nissan LEAF
Styling has seen little change a year after its launch. In my eyes, the 2013 Nissan LEAF is not quite as attractive and classy as its main rival.
Inside, you'll find seating for five and virtually every desirable amenity you can think of, including an exceptional Bose audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, and navigation -- all accessed and controlled via a very user-friendly touchscreen.
Entering and exiting the 2013 Nissan LEAF is a walk in the park. The location of the battery means that rear passengers sit a bit higher than those in front. Speaking of which, all the seats are heated and quite comfortable. Again, people who claim the LEAF is not made for winter should eat their words... and their scarf!
Comparing the 2013 Nissan LEAF
The 2013 Nissan LEAF currently faces only two direct threats: The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is $1,000 more expensive, yet smaller, less equipped, and definitely not as fun to drive; the Ford Focus Electric is pricier than the LEAF, too, but also more stylish and more spacious. Other than those, you have the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, a subcompact electric car that promises a range of 132 kilometres.