We’ve only been driving the Leaf for five days, but so far it is very enjoyable. Here are a few first impressions:
Interior Space: The inside feels really spacious, especially compared to the Chevy Volts I have been in which felt dark and compacted. The Leaf has high head clearance and good elbow room between the seats. The driver is definitely positioned higher than our previous car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, which is preferable for visibility.
Bells & Whistles: I’m still getting to know the on-board display, and I identify as “not app-tastic” which means I have an aversion to apps and touch-screen functions that require more than two pokes. I was pleased with myself for figuring out the navigation system on the first try, but then it took me a lot of screen-stabbing to figure out how to end the trip and have the nice lady stop telling me where to turn. My travelling companion tried to connect my phone to the Bluetooth system, and finally gave up after 10 minutes. Later in the day we figured out that the car has to be stationary to connect the phone via Bluetooth. I understand the safety objective, but I think detecting a phone quickly would be a better safety feature, and if it really can’t connect when the car is in motion, there should be a screen message saying so.
A word about ports: there aren’t enough. There is only one USB port, we’d like to see at least two in the front, two in the back for passengers would be great. There is also an audio-out port, what a waste of space. Do you know anyone who carries a male-to-male connecting cord for their 2005 iPod Shuffle? Me neither.
Giddy-Up: Today was our first drive on the highway, and the pick-up was great. In an electric car, there is no jolt as when a conventional vehicle jumps from one gear to the next; in the Leaf, the acceleration is very smooth. We reached cruising speed easily and with no fear of being the slow-poke at any time.
Gear Shift: The little gear shift fits perfectly well in one’s hand, but I do have a serious bone to pick with the designers for making Reverse a forward motion and Drive the backward motion. I remember driving various friends’ VW Jettas back in the day, and I know Reverse was also a left-forward motion on those manual transmission cars, and I didn’t like it then either. I’ll let you know when I get used to it, if ever.
Noises: I always give a little ‘toot-toot’ for pedestrian safety when exiting my alley. I am pleased to report that the horn sounds like a normal car, unlike the Honda Civic Hybrid which sounded like a dog’s chew toy; it was (almost) too embarrassing to use. Also because the car is so quiet, Nissan added a back-up beep when the car is in Reverse. It is a very polite beep, and the tone is unusual enough that it will make people look up and wonder what is making the noise, which is the point.