Living Life 1/4 mile at a time
We just read that a major automobile magazine had run a LEAF down a dragstrip for fun. So we thought that we would check out some LEAF performance data. We went to Edmunds.com for our source material and found an interesting bit of information in their test standards. They had one set of acceleration numbers posted, then right below that, they had another set of acceleration numbers posted with the notice “trac ON”. We can only assume from this that the first (slightly slower) set of numbers was with the traction control system off. We have no real idea why anyone would turn the traction control system off in any sort of acceleration test, but apparently Edmunds.com thought that it should be tested both ways. Surprise, surprise – it was faster with the traction control system left on. That’s why cars (not just the LEAF) have traction control systems – to minimize wheel spin and enhance performance.
In any case, here is the result (if you haven’t seen something similar before now):
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.) 3.3
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.) 6.0
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.) 9.9
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.) 15.9
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph) 17.3 @ 78.0
When plotted, the acceleration curve looks like this:
We plotted the time to speed as blue dots on the chart. Then we drew some lines to show the change in acceleration over time.
From zero to 30 miles per hour, the LEAF pulls pretty quickly, getting up to that speed in 3.3 seconds. If it could maintain that rate of acceleration, it would get to 80 miles per hour in just about eight seconds. As it is, it takes twice that long to add the next 30 miles per hour.
For comparison purposes, a 2.5 liter four-cylinder Nissan Altima sedan (a pretty quick car for a family sedan) with 175 horsepower gets up to that same speed in 3.4 seconds. From there things start to wind down in comparison with its more powerful brethren, and you can see the results on the chart as the rate of acceleration slows as speed increases. All cars rate of acceleration slows with speed, but the LEAF has only one gear and less power overall, so the rate of change is more pronounced at higher speeds. While quicker to 30 miles per hour (by one-tenth of a second) than the Altima, the Altima gets to the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at 87.2 miles per hour.
Just for the heck of it, we decided to look up the Chevrolet Volt test results also. In electric-only mode it got to 30 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds, the same as the Altima. But with the gas engine it took 3.6 seconds. We’re not really sure why it would take longer with the gas engine, and Edmunds doesn’t say.
We’re not saying that the LEAF is problematic or should be faster in the upper reaches. We’re just letting you know that the around town peppiness that you notice will start drifting away once you get onto the highway. We have found freeway acceleration to be adequate for our needs.
So it looks like in a street race, you might do okay from zero to 30. Beyond that, look for your challenger to best you. That is, unless you drop in the drivetrain from the White Zombie.