We all know that different cars provoke different reactions from other road users. I suspect it’s an inevitable, if ugly, aspect of human nature that we often make judgements on sight, despite our intention not to. I had reason to dwell on this recently, having spent four cheerful months in our Nissan Leaf long-termer before swapping for our rather more brazen Audi SQ7.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was people’s response to the Nissan Leaf that irked me most. A remarkable number of other drivers seemed consumed with a need to go faster than that slightly dumpy-looking electric car ahead of them, even when said dumpy car was actually going fairly briskly and was entirely justified in being where it was on the road. More than once I had other drivers dive in for a slightly teeth-sucking overtake on a B-road while I was tooling along at a healthy lick, and on the motorway the tailgating was often remarkably aggressive, even though I’m a stickler for staying left unless otherwise necessary.
In the end I came to the conclusion that the Leaf incited this kind of response because people recognise it as an electric car, rather than simply because of its everyday hatchback status. If you want to avoid being judged by other drivers, an everyday hatchback is ideal. Something like a silver Ford Focus diesel with a few months' road filth in place is right up there. It could be driven like a maniac, it could be travelling painfully slowly, or it could just be rolling along moderately with a fine driver at the wheel. It’s the vehicular equivalent of an excellent poker face.
Anyway, am I imagining this attitude to electric hatches? Or is it the Leaf’s blobby looks that cause such a noticeable response in other drivers?