Nissan LEAF

But, then, I doubt a petrol car would perform exactly the same way, given the relatively truncated torque curve of a petrol car. The Nissan LEAF just maintains a steady impetus.

That’s both at slow and highway speeds. I slowed a little on an expressway to make space in front of me, then stabbed the “gas” pedal. The car accelerated very firmly and quickly from 70 to 100km/h. I had no sense that acceleration was fading near 100, such I expect that overtaking would not have been a problem.

The Nissan LEAF E-Pedal

Of course, the car employs regenerative braking. When slowing, the motor takes the kinetic energy of the car’s forward movement and turns it into electrical energy, which it pushes back into the battery. But you don’t need to hit the brake pedal to do that, thanks to the e-Pedal. Nissan touts this as allowing “one pedal driving”.

Nissan LEAF

You push down on the accelerator and the car accelerates. You back off on the accelerator, and the car brakes. It can brake reasonably firmly in this mode, all the way down to a stop if you wish. You still have the brake pedal which you can apply should you need to stop more quickly still. And the car has four-wheel disc brakes in case the regenerative braking is insufficient. It also has anti-lock braking and electronically controlled distribution of the braking force.

“Throttle” control is the most unusual, occasionally disconcerting, thing about driving the Nissan LEAF. My instincts for the effect of engine braking were completely off, so I far too often came to a near halt too short of my goal.

You can switch off “e-Pedal” – there’s a prominent switch for that. But that doesn’t make it more like a petrol car because it means no engine braking at all. That’s equally disconcerting.

But, of course, it’s really just a matter of getting used to different things. Already by the end of my driving time my instincts were starting to adjust to the level of braking applied by the e-Pedal. And I came to appreciate some of the little things it offers, like the how it holds your position when you’re stopped at traffic lights without you having to do anything.

Conclusion

The new Nissan LEAF is fine car with very good performance and is wonderfully cheap to run. It comes with connections to charge at home as well as at proper CHAdeMO points. It looks good and is comfortable.

And, it seems, you’ll soon be able to use it to power your home.

Nissan’s website for the LEAF is here.