We are green with envy here at All Cars Electric as the writers over a Popular Science got a rare chance to test drive one of the first production-based Nissan LEAFs. The drive is one of the first in the actual vehicle shown in the picture, not the Versa bodied vehicle, nor the Cube bodied EV as previous drives occurred in. This drive is the real deal and the tester came away very impressed with the overall package.

Popular Science took the LEAF for a brief drive at the test track facilities in Oppama, Japan. This is not an in depth review, but provides insight into the expectations of this vehicle.

As they state, this vehicle unveiled on Sunday morning in Yokohama represents a new class of EVs, a vehicle that is designed from the ground up with the intentions of gaining mass appeal. Nissan's cute looking LEAF packs versatility and affordability ( at least Nissan says it will be affordable) into a single package.

Other competitors are the i-MiEV which is smaller than the LEAF, the Tesla Roadster which is much more expensive, and the Mini E which is a test vehicle not scheduled for production.

Upon first glance, Popular Science writer Seth Fletcher stated that it was evident that "it is no golf cart, no three wheel oddity, no neighborhood vehicle limited to 25 mph and banned from major roads."

The LEAF does appear capable of handling four or five adults as Nissan states. Fletcher said, "For a small car, it's roomy, with seating for four adults and a surprisingly deep cargo space under the hatch."

On to the driving portion of the review. Out on the test track, the LEAF accelerated with such vigor that the co-pilot of the vehicle or handler as they refer to it, told Fletcher to slow down within seconds of take off. The short track length prohibited the vehicle from reaching the top speed of about 90 mph, but the brief drive confirmed that this EV packs a lot of punch.

Inside, the vehicle is as Fletcher says, "Attractive and subtly high tech, with digital gauges and touch screen navigation.' On the outside though the reviewer was still uncertain about his admiration for the design stating that the hatchback body with little adornment aside from oddities such as the concave rear end and huge headlights has not grown on him yet.

As mentioned earlier, this review is but a brief drive of the vehicle. But any drive of the LEAF is worthy of mention as Nissan has produced a ground breaking product ahead of the competitors. They have boldly stated with this vehicle that they are trying hard to be the first to sell hundreds of thousands of EVs a year and the LEAF is the vehicle that will take them there.

If the LEAF has infrastructure support, it will likely be the mass produced vehicle that looking back, kicked off the EV revolution and Nissan can proudly state that they were at the front of the group of EV makers and came to the game before the others.

Source: Popular Science