2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test


Track Tested: 2011 Nissan Leaf SL

April 30, 2011

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By now you kids know the drill: If it's a long-term car, we're going to send it to the track to test it. Even if it means we need to have a tow-truck to bring it out and bring it back. Which we absolutely had to do with our 2011 Nissan Leaf SL. Forget the testing, our Leaf wouldn't even make it to the track and back without the full-throttle shenanigans we do out there. (Traditionally powered cars average in the mid/low-teens for fuel economy during testing.)

So with a full charge and an empty facility, we set out testing the mass-produced full EV to see what it was capable of when economy was thrown out the window in exchange for handling. If EVs want to be accepted, they need to drive right, right?

Specifications:
Drive Type: Transverse, front-electric motor, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: single-speed direct drive
Battery Capacity: 24 kWh
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 107
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 207
Steering System: Electric Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent twist beam-axle, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, integrated stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P205/55R16 89h
Tire Size (rear): P205/55R16 89h
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Ecopia EP422
Tire Type: All Season
Wheel size: 16 inches front and rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Aluminum Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,364


Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 3.4
0-45 (sec): 6.1
0-60 (sec): 10.2
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 9.9
0-75 (sec): 16.4
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 17.5 @ 75.9

Braking
30-0 (ft): 33
60-0 (ft): 130

Handling
Slalom (mph): 60.3 (58.1 with T/C on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.78 (0.74 with T/C ON)

Sound
Db @ Idle: 38.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 65.8
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 63.7


Comments

Acceleration: Test run after slalom and skidpad with about 60% of charge left. Will retest another time to see if 100% charge makes any difference. As it was, a coordinated two-foot transition from brake to throttle is better than brake torque or whack-n-go.


Braking: Pedal is relatively firm and not overlong, but stops are punctuated by early and persistent ABS intervention and so-so stopping distances.

Handling: Skidpad: With ESC off (and it does shut off) there isn't much grip from these tires but the ability to alter the attitude of the car with throttle response is pretty remarkable. Steering feels spring-loaded, but I was mostly steering with the throttle. With ESC on, it takes throttle away first, then dabs brakes. Slalom: Whoa! My first pass let me know by the second cone how reluctant the Leaf is to changing direction in a hurry. It understeers initially, then oversteers with the opposite input for the next cone. It's a handful with ESC off, especially with all the body roll. ESC is pretty effective and minimally intrusive if kept close to its limits -- exceed them and it punishes.

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