2018 Nissan Leaf: The First Drive!!

January 14, 2018

Face it, EV is rather amazing!

Think electric cars and stereotypes come to mind. Compromised performance, relative limitations in terms of range et al. Yet when I test drove the new Nissan Leaf yesterday, a few things became clear. Electric vehicle are indeed the future.

Let’s start with the design language of the Nissan Leaf.  Futuristic design from an 80’s sci-fi film set the tone for the earlier incarnation of the Leaf, yet the 2018 version takes a modern outlook with a fresh, clean outlook. Think a V-motion grille, tall back-swept roofline and spacious interiors. As far as the versions go, the top-of-the-line version I dove had leather seats with blue stitching and a glossy piano black trim.

Design aesthetic apart, the true allure would be in the driving experience. And as we set off to the Red Canyon in Las Vegas, there was a certain satisfaction in the whole experience. Step on the accelerator, and you have a ‘Wooosh’ tone, a touch of Back to the Future there. The initial acceleration is rather smoothly impressive, and I soon find myself coasting on at 90mph. It’s only when a noisy Mustang goes by that you realize one aspect of the EV experience, the sheer silence of the driving experience.

The highway is where it’s time to check out the loads of tech on this car. Let’s start with Propilot Assist. Think of it as the future of cruise control. While on the highway, judging by the speed of the vehicles around me, I engaged Propilot Assist, set a speed of 73mph, and watched the magic unfold. Yes, this maintains your speed, but it also senses the speed of the car in front of you and accelerates or reduces speed accordingly. So when there is a slight clogging up, the leaf automatically reduces, keeping a safe distance, and as the road becomes freer, speeds up. Mind you, the Leaf does not get into autodrive, though it will keep you in lane and steer for you.

As we head back into the city, it’s time to try out e-Pedal. Nissan describes the e-Pedal as revolutionary, and I immediately realized why. Once engaged, the Leaf can be driven via the accelerator, without using the brake at all. Releasing the pedal applies friction and regenerative brakes that let you easily control the car while in traffic. Release the pedal slowly, and the car comes to a stop at a slow pace, and a faster release of the pedal brings the car to a stop very fast. While this takes a bit getting used to, the benefits to the driving experience are massive.

The first incarnation of the Nissan Leaf was welcomed by almost 300,000 buyers. And the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a far more exciting proposition. Far greater range [as much as 415km if you utilize the benefits of regenerative braking totally], a more real world design aesthetic, and some very intriguing, non-intrusional tech on show. Overall, this is one that showcases Electric vehicles art their prime. Much recommended!

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.