The Sound of Silence - 2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test
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2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test

2011 Nissan Leaf: The Sound of Silence

May 13, 2011

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I need to get my head checked. I'm beginning to really like electric vehicles. I'm not saying that I'll give up internal combustion any time soon (you can have my V8 when you pry it from my cold, dead hand), but I can see (and hear) the future -- and I like it.

Last night, as I drove down a tree-lined street in my neighborhood, I rolled down the window and heard nothing, and everything. Obviously there was no exhaust rumble, but I was treated to the sounds of the birds chirping and conversations of people on the street. I could still hear the artificial whine that the Nissan broadcasts to warn blind people of its approach, but there's a cancel button for that.

Personally, I like the noise it generates. It's what I thought a 21st-century car would sound like when I was a kid. Coincidentally, I also think it's what Dart Vader's dustbuster would sound like.

I turned off the sound and, wow, a zen-like driving experience. The last time I encountered this was in a Tesla Roadster. Taking a corner, I could hear what each tire was doing. It was as though I gained some sort of extra sensory power. Now all I want is a true electric sports car so I can push this newfound super power further. I also have been mesmerized by the trailer for Charge, a documentary about running electric racebikes at the Isle of Man.

I will always love the roar of a race engine, but the whine of electricity is the future. We'll always have the roar, I suppose, at historic motorsports gatherings. A week ago I would have considered this blasphemy, but I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a top-tier all-electric race series.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor


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