most perceptive thing I’ve read so far about the Nissan Leaf — my top car of
2010 — is that it has done more than any other single machine to “normalise”
you live a lot of your life in London, as I do, your first familiarity with the
Leaf completely counters all the bad stuff about electric cars you’ve accrued
over time from watching the G-Wiz and its ilk: that they’re ugly, toy-like,
horrible to drive and don’t comply with the safety standards of other small cars.
the styling of the Leaf doesn’t suit everyone, and I admit it isn’t the most
beautiful of cars, even to me. But when you understand what that little panel in
the nose is for, and why it has to look a bit different from other cars, and
how efficient it is aerodynamically (those protruding headlights actually
‘condition’ the airflow to reduce noise as it passes the exterior mirrors), you
do warm to it. And there are no packaging compromises. It’s a classic workhorse
five-seater with a big boot.
the light really comes on when you drive it. Every electric car I’ve tried has
been a kind of glorified milk-float, its funny whirrings accompanied by tyre
noise, wheel bearing noise, crashing suspension and a deep-seated lack of
refinement. The Leaf is the very reverse of that. It's smooth, quiet,
comfortable, rides and steers nicely and its engine, when you can hear it,
actually sounds quite good.