Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Nissan LeafNissan goes all in on its electric car bet.
2010 is shaping up to be the year of the EV's arrival. One of the big reasons for it, this car right here, the Nissan Leaf. We've talked specs, we've talked pricing, we've talked infrastructure. Those were all important topics. But you know where consumers really decided yeah or no on this guy? We're gonna go to the show room and take you for a test drive. We're doing that right now. Let's go. Driving the front wheel is an 80-kilowatt motor, that's about a 107 horsepower, with 207-foot pounds of torque. Range is nominally a 100 miles, but that can vary a lot. Now, it can vary wildly depending on the climate, terrain, your driving style, use of the heater, air-conditioning, radio. If you're really nervous about range on a Leaf, wait until these guys have been on the market about 6 months. Let's see what real users find out. From dead empty it takes about 8 hours to charge a Leaf full up from a special Nissan charger you have installed to a 220 circuit in your house, and they recommend that. You can't just plug in to our dryer outlet, that's against code. You can plug in to a standard 110 outlet, but by the time the car is charged, your kids have grown up and had their own children. It's like 14 hours plus; 110 is really just for tapping up. Now, the Leaf is an all-new model. So, like a Prius, it should stand out for its---- well, unusual looks, which helps signify its unusual power source. You may love or hate the way it looks, but you won't mistake it and you'll know what it stands for. Okay, starting the car is interesting right off bat. You just push the button. Nothing to fires to life, of course, electric car, but there's a sound. You can actually customize. You can choose from 3; here's ares: give the car a few seconds to wake up. Nice-looking video like LCD dashboard. Now, your ship there's an unusual bit of work right here. You take this guy and kick it over and back for drive. If you did that again, you could do an Echo Mode of drive, but they're both the same thing. Just 2 forward engagement gear sets to work with here. We're going to standard drive on this guy. And as soon as we clear the traffic, off we go. Now once it gets started here, interesting feature. I've pushed this little button and a little arrow inside of a circle. Brings up kind of the old SAC bomber range map there on the map, but that's not showing my bomb range, it's actually showing my charge get to range. There is one that's a definite, and there is one that's absolutely using up all my power. And then around there, I've some icons to show where I can charge up as well. So, there are several ways to get over the anxiety of a car that faces a whole lot and harder to fill up than a gas-engine car. You've got your miles-to-empty or miles-to-flat gauge right there. The one on the left is battery temperature. You've also got indicator on the eyebrow display on the top that shows you how greenly or how brownly you're driving. You want that to be in the green range, which is to say, it's going to show that you're using the less amount of power to get around. Different look and feel for the anterior on this car. It doesn't look like anything else Nissan has done. Again, a divergence to state. This is a new product category, a new product in itself, and a new diversion, if you will. You won't get in it and feel like, "Okay, it's---- I took the center, I got some and put them in something else." Oh, look, I'm growing a tree. Now, as I drive efficiently with that little efficiency gauge in the upper left, I'll grow a tree. It's a little stylized little pine tree there, and I'm starting to put a couple of what---- a couple of bows on it up to two now. This is the little game you play when you drive a very green car. You may laugh until you get one, and then you'll find yourself doing the exact same thing. Now Nissan crossed a lot about how this car has---- almost a luxury feel to it. You see, they put a lot of time and effort into it being very well-planted, quiet and refined in the way that it drives. Now, I'll be honest with you. All electric cars will surprise you with the level of effortlessness that they portray. When you don't have gears that are changing in the gearbox and pistons going up and down, and cams and loaves whacking against valves; things that you don't really notice consciously. When those go away, a car feels almost like a magic carpet. Electric cars are amazing that way in general. This car does feel well-put together. We just drove the Mitsubishis i-MiEV few days ago right before this car came to us a little availability and that car feels more like an electric Honda Fit. This car feels more like an electrified Sentra. I think that's kind of a pretty good parallel just about the top of my head. It feels more upscale than a base or entry car. Okay, after a short drive just around the city like this, I can tell you a few things: first of all, this is a real car that has a solid, value-oriented presence to it. It doesn't feel like you gotten some kind of a circus buggy. Now, what are you paying for that? Almost $33,000 base, but then come the deductions: $7500 from the Fits, $5000 from your state if you're in California, Georgia, a couple of other states. Now, we're down to the low 20's. Now, we've got pretty much a bonafide steel for cutting edge technology and a completely new drivetrain and power supply. The question is, how does charging work for you in your driving standards, do those tax credits stay in place, at least long enough for Nissan to bring cost out of this car and bring its MSRP down low without supporting rebates from other entities. It's a very different picture with this kind of vehicle. We'll know more as we get a full review on the Nissan Leaf soon.