When it came time to bring electric cars to the mainstream market, automakers were faced with a dichotomous decision: Design them to look like spaceships, the vehicles of the future that would put the finishing touches on the combustion engine; or make them in such a way that they didn’t look electric at all and could blend into the urban environment without being singled out by your neighbor as a weirdo who cares about the melting of the poles.
There is no correct answer, as there are good examples from each field. The BMW i3, for example, looks like the urban mobility dream of William Gibson: a small model to maneuver the congested streets of the future without dirtying (further) the already battered atmosphere. At the other extreme, the Renault Megane E-Tech, where it cannot be seen that it does not emit any gas except for the Zero label on the windshield.
Now, in addition, a new type of electric car is emerging: those that look to the past and bet on markedly retro lines, as in the case of the Hyundai Ioniq 5.
Where there is consensus is in the interior design, which is always futuristic since it is not limited by the laws of automotive engineering, refined for the better part of a century. In the interior design and in the sounds: the auditory experience is one of the most effective (and cheap!) ways to make one feel that it is a special product, especially when the sound of an engine does not exist in these.
Some manufacturers, such as BMW, have even hired hans zimmerthe composer who won the Oscar for the Dune soundtrack, to simulate the sound of his models, but most are content with robotic buzzes and beeps and more or less intrusive alerts.
Sound, like interfaces, is something that ages fast and badly. To our 2022 ears, accustomed to carefully produced pieces of music where autotune goes unnoticed, 8-bit synthesis sounds as archaic as Pacman. Because they went hand in hand. And they can become irritating.
Which brings us to the vehicle in question today: the Nissan Leaf. One of the first affordable electric cars to hit the market — it was introduced in 2010, when the Tesla Model S didn’t even exist — the Leaf quickly carved out its niche, despite initially having a low-capacity battery. of 24 kWh with less than 200 km of autonomy.
This has been updated with subsequent generations until it reaches 62 kWh, which gives it a range of more than 400 real km, with a 160 kW (217 hp) engine. The design, within the retro-futuristic spectrum, is more towards the future, but without being too risky. Nissan, as a brand, prides itself on looking forward, and the Leaf’s lines would determine what the brand’s next models would look like.
Being, until the arrival of the Ariya, Nissan’s electric flagship, the interior of the Leaf is comfortable, well designed and has modern elements such as the video camera rearview mirror, an unconventional gear selector, Android Auto or the function e-pedal to aggressively brake the car by lifting off the accelerator pedal with regenerative braking.
Engines: Electric 160 kW (218 hp)
Consumption: 18.5 kW/100 km
Length/width/height (in meters): 4.49/1.78/1.54
Trunk: 420 liters
Price: 37,770 euros
All of this has led to many of Madrid’s taxi drivers opting for the Leaf as their preferred zero-emissions, which can only say positive things about a vehicle (and really, the test could end with that statement). However, each and every one of their drivers, without exception, has disabled their audible alerts.
Worst of all is the Lane Departure Alert, which sounds like a horn beep in the distance, coupled with aggressive steering correction. The first few times it rang, I remember turning my face in anger, trying to figure out who the driver was who was criticizing my (flawless) driving.
When I discovered that my enemy was, in fact, the car I was driving, I felt betrayed, worse than if my cat preferred a friend to me. A sign of changing times, machines underestimating the driving capabilities of their users. It is possible that the Leaf, for this reason, is the most futuristic electric car on the market.
Over my dead body. I can tolerate other drivers getting on my nerves, but never my vehicle. To deactivate it you have to go into the menu settings through the steering wheel controls, something quite hidden but frustration sped up the process. Fortunately, Nissan will have received so much feedback on this that their modern cars do not have that sound.