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Leaf: practical, comfortable electric car.

Different people have different tastes and preferences for cars.

Some like their cars to look hot and sexy, and sound rough and tough as soon as they fire up the engine.

And some may go for the casual style of normal, practical and everyday use.

Of course, there are others who seek and drive cars for totally different reasons.

If you like small, sporty and fast cars such as the Mini Coopers in "The Italian Job" or the Porsche Turbo driven by Will Smith in "Bad Boys" and likes to drive offensively, Nissan's Leaf may not be your car. Warning, this review can be seen as highly subjective.

The Leaf does not look sexy, nor does it sound rough and tough.

My first impression of the car on press release photos and while parked at an event was: Who would want to drive this car?

It looks boring, unadventurous and like other models out there that promote themselves as "dynamic," when they don't look dynamic at all. It begs the question why they all say they are dynamic.

But a and there's always a but in this imperfect world a looks can be deceiving.

At the very outset, the Leaf lies to us, it questions us, and it tests us.

And one would get the answers as soon as they jump in and drive this electric vehicle (EV).

Although driven around Nanyang Technological University's car track under the safest environment for a very short time, it was a pleasure getting to know the Leaf and the EV world.

The Leaf is practical, economical and above all, like what Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of Nissan's global design said, it is made for "simple, comfortable and clean" driving.

The car is not meant for fans of fast loud cars.

It is for everyday people who put safety first above all else, who have to drive to work during rush hour, who want to feel relaxed while heading toward their destination.

Fast cars may look cool, but are not very comfortable. Remember Martin Lawrence's character in "Bad Boys" complaining about the Porsche not having a cup holder?

The Leaf looks very conventional, but is designed to be unconventional.

It takes some time to get used to a variety of functions or buttons in the next-generation EV.

There were a lot of buttons, but all you need to know at first is the one that starts its electric motor, a simple-designed gear that looks like a button, and the e-Pedal switch button.

The car is so quiet that one may wonder whether the motor is on or off. Right there, you would realize it lied and fooled us into believing it looks the same as other dynamic cars.

With next to no noise and 100 percent electrically powered, the Leaf then tests not our driving capability but our awareness of the environment a do you want to be part of this big movement to save the planet under the threat of global warming and energy depletion?

Nissan said it needs to have a little motor noise because being too quiet can cause accidents. Pedestrians need to hear cars coming before crossing the street.

Nissan's e-Pedal is simply sensational. This also requires some time to get used to because of the habit of moving one's foot back and forth between the gas and brake pedals.

The e-Pedal control allows drivers to use and step on the accelerator pedal to accelerate, decelerate and stop. Drivers can stop the EV just by lifting their feet off the accelerator pedal. This makes it semi-autonomous with its auto parking and cruise control systems.

There are two pedals in the Leaf like in conventional cars, but drivers can only use the accelerator pedal for accelerating and braking.

The single-pedal system can be useful during the hellish rush hour in Seoul, Los Angeles, or in other major cities in the world. One can understand why it can be very useful in Singapore as well, given its tight and small roads and parking spaces.

So, it is clean, simple and comfortable. In this sense, it is sexy, which needs to be redefined in the age of autonomous driving.

With its black-color top roof, the Leaf wanted to look more "sporty and engaging," said Nissan global designer Albaisa.

While Nissan promotes the Leaf as dynamic, what it really means is providing "human comfort and environmental benefits" from driving a new energy car with spacious interiors that can help clean the world.
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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Feb 11, 2018
Words:861
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