If, like me, you are made miserable by the prospect of a future ruled by all-electric cars because of their likely effect on driving enjoyment, allow me to introduce one small but hopefully bright shaft of light.
I’ve been driving the new Nissan Leaf around a makeshift track Nissan had created outside the O2. It is all it promised to be: the world’s first purpose-built, mass-produced, all-electric family car is quiet, comfortable and quick enough. It has been conceived and executed with great vision, courage and fluency. Having read about it, none of this surprised.
But what did raise my brows was the entirely unexpected fact that it was also mildly fun to drive. It’s no Lotus but when your expectations in this regard are precisely zero, to find a car with crisp steering, surprisingly sharp turn in and very little body roll is something of a revelation.
What’s more it’s all a by-product of its electric power supply. Because the Leaf is a clean sheet design, the vast bulk of its weight – its 48 lithium ion battery modules – have been laid across the floor of the car. This not only drops the centre of gravity but concentrates mass within the wheelbase, just like a mid-engined car and the benefits are clear to see.