Nissan LEAF – The Good

Here I’ll list the things that are features I really appreciate or am pleasantly surprised to find out as I learn to drive this vehicle. I’ll keep adding to the list as I become familiar with all the cars features, many of which I yet to explore.

1. Rapid and silent acceleration.

Zoom Zoom.

On the very limited test drive I took back in March I realized the car was quite nippy, but the limited drive didn’t let you explore very far at all. With an electric car you don’t have to wait for the engine to reach optimum revs to provide optimum power, the full power of the motor is available immediately resulting in crisp acceleration from a standing start.

Like with any car if you push it too hard from a standing start you’ll end up screeching the tires, however the true benefit of the cars performance comes when wanting to pass a vehicle while on the move. You can nip by very quickly because there is absolutely zero hesitation as you put your foot down. The performance while moving is much more useful and impressive than when sitting at a light.

2. Great camera for reversing.

When reversing, the image from the back-up camera is displayed on the 7″ display in the dash. The camera is very clear and Nissan added a turn ‘predictor’ feature that indicates where the vehicle is headed as one reverses by overlaying the predicted path of the vehicle as you turn the steering wheel.

The camera is wide angled, so it makes it easy to spot anything on the ground therefore making it unlikely that you’ll accidentally run over something behind the vehicle without seeing it first.

I quickly discovered that the camera is very useful in allowing one to completely backup into a  parking space without fear of hitting the vehicle behind you.

I hoped the turn predictor would be useful for backing into a parking space, but I believe I’m better off using the side mirrors for that, and just using using the camera to gauge when to stop in the parking space.

Rain drops can collect on the lens of the camera, rendering the image almost useless, other than that, its very well positioned.

3. Great Bluetooth Phone and Audio connectivity to my Droid smart phone

Once paired up to the car via Bluetooth, audio tracks automatically start playing where they left off as soon as you start up the vehicle. You never need to touch the phone!! Audio clarity is wonderful. It would be nice if it could capture the track and artist name, that  feature is limited to iPod devices via the USB port.

I have yet to make or receive a call via Bluetooth yet, but the promise is that I never have to touch the phone to make or receive calls.

The Smart Phone address book can be loaded into the vehicle, however the memory is limited to 300 phone book entries per Bluetooth paired device. I exceeded the capacity quite easily. I’d like to see them improve on that.

The automatic pairing upon vehicle start is sometimes slow and at other times very quick. I’m not sure what causes this variability.

Nissan are clearly trying to compete with Ford Sync technology. While Ford may have the lead on them, this is a very respectable first try.

4. Activating the AC prior to driving is great

One can pre-program the AC to go off just before your regular time to leave for work, or alternatively one can manually activate the AC using a web browser, or an iPhone. Until you experience the comfort this provides as you step into the car, you can’t imagine how nice it is. While very convenient the feature has a energy saving purpose also, the car is at the right temperature before driving, minimizing the work the AC has to do and thereby extending the range of the vehicle.

Unfortunately Nissan haven’t got the Android app developed yet, but the salesman at my dealer said it’s on its way.

Update 8/3/2011 – The Android app was released yesterday (2nd August). It works great. Go here to get it.

Click to Enlarge

5. AC has a minimal impact on driving range thanks to the efficient AC unit.

I thought the AC would really limit vehicle range, however if what the readout at the Car Wings website can be believed, it has a very small impact on the miles it predicts is left on the vehicle.

I find the CarWings website has a much more accurate predictor of miles remaining than the readout on the dash of the vehicle. I wish the vehicle algorithm was as sophisticated.

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