AC/DC: A Drive in the Nissan Leaf

Would you let this Hoon drive your new car?

No, not that AC/DC! This is Hooniverse after all.
A couple weeks ago, this olelongrooffan received an email from Nissan USA Marketing at my personal email account asking me if I would be interested in test driving Nissan’s new all electric LEAF?

What? In my first post here in the Hooniverse, I doubted that any manufacturer would provide this olelongrooffan with one of their fancy-dancy new automobiles to Hoon around. Well, I guess hanging with my fellow Hoons has a distinct advantage beyond the receipt of a cool Camaro emblem for Hoonimas (thanks again BJ).
Of course I responded in the affirmative, thanks to Dearthair and the esteemed Mr. Glucker for their encouragement, and on Friday of this week past, this is what was seen down by this olelongrooffan down on the University of Central Florida campus in MickeyMouseLand.

Clearly, those dudes over at Nissan USA Marketing sure need to do more in depth research on their guinea pigs.
But of course, in an effort to satisfy my fellow Hoons, I took those idiots that intelligent marketing team up on their offer.
Now before this olelongrooffan gets to that test drive I must state that I did little research absolutely no research on electrics and hybrids in particular so I could get the real experience from the LEAF barkers and distill what I could from their eloquent sales pitch.
Having said that, at the Rolex 24 at Daytona the last weekend in January (yeah, that post is coming), I did spot the rather large Chevrolet booth and on Saturday dropped by to see the new, much heralded (by some) Chevy Volt.

Well my fellow Hoons, much like the original introduction of the Volt by its parent company, it arrived late!

However when I dropped by on Sunday it was there and I got the whole Volt experience from the lanky blonde on the right in the above image. I mentioned to her this olelongrooffan was going to be test driving a Nissan LEAF the following Friday and from then on her whole sales pitch revolved around “range anxiety”, a previously unheard of term to me.
Now, somewhat uncharacteristic of this olelongrooffan, the above image is the only one I got of the Volt so the following image of the LEAF is included just to be fair.

But know this, even though TTAC Automobile Magazine mentioned the short back seat cushions in the LEAF, they were about the same size as my Mom’s period correct, back in the day, Pontiac T1000. In the Volt, with the driver’s seat adjusted to comfort for this 6’0″ tall test driver, there was no way any adult could fit their legs and feet in the space remaining behind me. The LEAF definitely has a spacious back seat with plenty of legroom.
Not to get ahead of myself, even though I already did, this test drive was on a college campus on a Friday afternoon and, as all we Hoons know, parking on a college campus at any time totally sucks. But it was okay. I am from out of town, don’t really care about a parking ticket from the Campus Commandos (no, not the Jeep Commando) and have the creative ability, as I am sure many of my fellow Hoons possess, to create a parking space. Me? I just looked where all of the cops parked and created a space immediately beside them. After all, had I gotten a ticket on the old Comanche I would have merely captured a shot of those Impalas and Crown Vics just for posterity sake and evidence. Fortunately that was not necessary.
Anyway, after parking and heading toward the exhibit that would allow me to experience the LEAF I spotted this mobile electricity generating device.

Now modern technology is awesome and I, for one, can’t wait for its arrival but as you can see in the following image, this technician for AeroVironment is totally frustrated by this modern technology and its presence in his world.

Yeah, that instant energy producing device was in an old-fashioned broken-down status and no amount of technical bulletins were going to get it up and running during the time this olelongrooffan spent at that exhibit that Friday afternoon. BTW, total cost of that instant charging device, less the truck, $185,000.
And that kind of cash will instantly provide charging for four of these devices for the Nissan LEAF or any other hybrid/electric vehicle as all of these type vehicles possess the same universal plug in devices.

In the LEAF, it looks like a snout as it emanates from the front of it.

Now as those of my fellow Hoons who still read my offerings know, while this olelongrooffan is a car nerd, I am not totally proficient at car reviews or other offerings of professional car bloggers. Therefore, thankfully, Mr. Glucker offered his suggestions as to what to provide in this blogpost.
Get a full on rear shot.

Get a full on shot of the left rear.

Get a full on shot of the front of it.

Get a full on shot of the right front of it.

As you can see, this olelongrooffan follows directions to a T!
Now, as my fellow Hoons can surmise, this was not an exclusive test drive that Mr. Glucker and Mr. Odell are privey enough to experience. No, this olelongrooffan was just another dude off the street who could experience the drive of the LEAF. Hell, they even had one of the much-hacked signs on the corner asking folks to come on in and drive one. But it’s okay, this olelongrooffan still had a blast.
Anyway, my tour guide through this experience was from out in LA land and mentioned, several times, about his buddies who experienced much better than the expected range of 100 miles while out and about in one of the “first mass produced electric vehicles.” And the words “range anxiety” did not, once, come out of his mouth. I guess Nissan USA Marketing trains their staff very well.
When one of my fellow tour attendees questioned him about the look of the motor, my tour guide responded that Nissan thought the conventional look of a valve cover might calm some of the concerns of the general public about the look of an electric motor.

As an aside, the cockpit lever to release the cover to access the plug in receptacle has the shape of a conventional gas pump on it.
Since this test drive, this olelongrooffan has looked at most all of the blogs and hard copy links I could find and just about every one of them mentions the headlights are designed to minimize air flow around the side mirrors so I had to include that reference as well.

Now, my fellow Hoons would suspect, as I did, that an electric vehicle would provide an excellent opportunity to provide a charging device for every one of our mobile devices, i.e. cell phones, MP3 players or whatever else we happen to enjoy these days.
But alas, unlike the Volt, the LEAF possesses only one 12 volt power adapter. The battery that powers this vehicle provides too many volts, if you will, to power those needs. It does have a single 12 volt battery that is recharged by a solar panel above the rear hatch.

And I did read somewhere that reviewer thought the “C” pillar was overly large for a vehicle of this size. With that assumption, I must agree. Think of the driver’s side of the Cube, if you will.

After the indoctrination orientation with the specifics of the LEAF, I was able to get my proctor aside for some specific questions my fellow Hoons had emailed this olelongrooffan to ask.
How does the heater work? It is a resistance type with a 12v powered blower.
What is the range loss when utilizing the heater, a/c, radio, wipers, headlights? About 10% was the response.
How does the a/c work? It is a conventional a/c unit with a compressor but instead of a belt driven unit, it is motor driven off the 12v system.
Does the range vary with the amount of weight the vehicle is carrying? longrooffan note: Every question with respect to range was answered with the caveat “Range will vary with driving style.”
What is the vehicle constructed of? (This olelongrooffan was thinking it would be exotics such as carbon fiber and other lightweight materials) The body is constructed of conventional steel although some of the interior components are constructed of recycled plastics such as milk jugs and carpet underlayments.
Who is your target market? Basically we are looking at those who are interested in conserving the environment, those who are interested in saving money and those IT types who understand modern technology. (slam olelongrooffan!)
What is the insurance rating? None yet.
Does the battery wear down like a cell phone does. No, once the battery has a charge of whether 20%, 50% or 80%, whatever, it will maintain that charge. So if you drive to the airport with a 60% charge and are gone for 2 weeks, when you return, you will still have a 60% charge.
So, after prodding my proctor, if you will, it was time for this olelongroofan to get some seat time in the Nissan LEAF. At the time I paid it no consequence but my Proctor directed me toward a young man who then directed the would be riders along with this olelongrooffan to another ride. It was he and I solo in this maroon colored 2011 Nissan LEAF.
As we settled into this ride, in an effort to get comfortable with him, I asked if he worked for Nissan? As I suspected when I asked him if he worked for Nissan, he replied no, he was a Marketing Major at UCF and he was just working this deal for a few extra bucks.
“So, you don’t mind if I drive this car?”
“No sir,” that 20-year old told this 51-year old longrooffan.
Well, my fellow Hoons, that regulated test drive was a short drive around the UCF Arena and I took every advantage of it I could.
A brief drive out of the staging area, turn right and go about three city blocks through a pedestrian heavy environment.
“Would you mind turning off that radio, and let me lower the window to hear that pedestrian friendly beeping noise to warn others we were about?” Yeah, I heard it.
Now around the back of that arena there is an S-curve in the road that allowed this olelongrooffan to experience the LEAF’s oversteer when hitting that 15 mph designated S curve at 25+ mph.
Then back onto a nearly deserted four lane road with a full on median. Checking the rear views and blasting that torque rich motor (is it really an engine?) to the max and then slamming on the brakes, not once but several times, and then approaching the final turn back onto the roadway that would take us back to the home port.
I asked him if this was it? His response? “Let’s go another round.”
And we did!
In total Hoonworthy style this olelongrooffan thrashed that Nissan LEAF and that youngster riding in the copilot seat did not say a word. I was even able to get a chirp from the front tires but it was while accelerating around a corner. But still, I think even minimal tire squall from an electric vehicle is admirable.
Regardless of overall range, that vehicle possessed excellent straight forward acceleration and, while not a Tesla, it silently screamed! And as much as I slammed on the brakes, I did not experience any brake fade. As a matter of fact, if you discount this olelongrooffan entering an S curve at more than acceptable speed, the LEAF handled quite well.
And I am proud to state that when I sat down in the driver’s seat of that LEAF, the dashboard told me I had a range of 84 miles. After driving that thing about two miles, when I exited it, the remaining range was 61 miles! Hell Yeah!!
But, in typical olelongrooffan style…
I wanted to share with my fellow Hoons a shot of the dashboard of this car of the future.

I was able to get these few shots. This one of the disclaimer that lets you know that “Big Brother Nissan” will be following your every move Black Box style…

…via the NAV system offered through the Nissan Motor Company. Ironically, that NAV system showed every roadway in the area except Interstate 4!

But know this, my fellow Hoons. I tried to get an image of the active dashboard from the gorgeous blue LEAF in the display area of that exhibit but when I asked one of the attendents to display the dashboard on that vehicle, he explained there was a “technical glitch” with that car.

Yeah, the future is here but “technical glitches” still abound and that is why this olelongrooffan is sticking with my “blue plate special” four cylinder, five speed, four wheel drive, 19 mpg producing Jeep Comanche for the foreseeable future.
But AC/DC rocks!!

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18 responses to “AC/DC: A Drive in the Nissan Leaf”

  1. dwegmull Avatar

    51? Really? I would have said 42 tops, based on pictures… Ho, and good article, too!

  2. Manic_King Avatar

    Another Japanese car company in desperate need for a new and improved styling direction. This thing is ugly and they have even uglier vehicles available. Juke is probably 21. century Aztec:
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      It looks even weirder in person. The side windows remind me of the '59 Valiant.

    2. SecondSpitter Avatar

      Took me several weeks to even realize those weren't weird fog-lights but the actual headlights of that snout.

    3. austinminiman Avatar

      One of the professors at my College bought one. I hate to say it, but in person, I kind of like it. I liked the proportions a lot more once I realized it was so small- It's shorter than a Corolla.

  3. tonyola Avatar

    I see I-4 on that GPS map running from Lakeland to Daytona, with the loop SR 417 expressways on the east side of Orlando connecting to it. The map is turned 90 degrees (I know that area very, very well).

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Nice catch tonyola….I can't believe I missed that…

  4. lilwillie Avatar

    Nice write up! Sure to see a bunch running around MadTown soon enough. The Prii's are so common now you can't hit a light without seeing one. The Leaf might be a good urban fighter for Toyota's dominance in the Captain Planet quest.
    I had a conversation this past weekend with my brother about building a electric car. His wife is a "green zombie" so to speak. Very concerned about the foot print and blahblahblah, has a Prius of course. She is the opposite of me and my love of 6mpg which just means the car must need to be tuned up or has a ton of power and sucks the gas. Not a bad thing.
    Anyways, I know if and when the time comes for my brother to bite the bullet and build a car he really wants I bet I could get his wife to help finance it if I built a Electric Austin Healey. That could look cool, right?
    /I do get along with her fine, lots of respect to someone who actually lives a green life and not just preaching it.

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Make that that electric Austin Healey a reality! Also, olelongrooffan, AC/DC rocks, but you rock harder:
      "And I am proud to state that when I sat down in the driver’s seat of that LEAF, the dashboard told me I had a range of 84 miles. After driving that thing about two miles, when I exited it, the remaining range was 61 miles! Hell Yeah!!"

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    At least they dumped the goofy Catfish mouth styling of the pre-production units. I thought it should have whiskers, and make a croaking sound as it went down the road.

  6. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Nicely done, Longroof.
    I'm still waiting for my first vehicle launch invite. I guess it must be in the post. Or maybe my mailbox has jammed shut…

  7. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Thanks for the article!!!
    "…Nissan thought the conventional look of a valve cover might calm some of the concerns of the general public about the look of an electric motor."
    They didn't think that the conventional look of the VEHICLE may calm some comcerns…. but don't yell at me yet, I get it. No one wants to drive an "environmentally responsible" vehicle without getting the attention from people around them, so it has to be styled to look "futuristic."
    Still, I enjoy the paradox.

  8. Maxichamp Avatar

    Now that's a review from a true "amateur" of cars, in the greatest sense of that term. You can't get observations like that anywhere else, folks.

  9. Lotte Avatar

    "As you can see, this olelongrooffan follows directions to a T!"
    The biggest grin is the worst I can get away with in class; that's hilarious! I'm sure Mr. Glucker taught you well!
    But the Leaf, it's a necessary evil. There are plenty of people whom I wouldn't mind driving a Leaf or a Volt rather than their 2.7 Chrysler 300 sucking up all 'my' gas. And if our longrooffan can toss one into slight oppo situation then maybe I wouldn't mind driving one either. It's more about the driver, right?
    But to buy one with my own money? Never.

  10. texan_idiot25 Avatar

    Yay, I send glucker a thing on this and it gets ignored…

    1. texan_idiot25 Avatar

      And sent it two months ago.

  11. Sjalabais Avatar

    I hadn’t seen this before now, a shame that all the photos are gone.