As a city dweller who relies solely on the public transit system (and her feet) to get everywhere, a chance to cruise around town in a slick ride for an evening is not to be passed up. Upon turning it on, I was revelling in the comfort, quiet and air conditioning of the Nissan Leaf as if it were a luxury-class vehicle (I guess those of us who don't own cars forget the subtle virtues and conveniences of getting around in an automobile).
I left the office parking lot with a smug sense of satisfaction at skipping the rush hour crowds on the subway in the high-30s heat, but the atrocious traffic in Toronto's downtown core gave me a swift reality check; the "brief" errand I wanted to run took the better part of an hour.
As I inched along the streets, I used the time to explore the Leaf. For my first experience driving an electric car, I was duly impressed. I navigated all the dials and functions on the dashboard and the GPS
system without a problem, and I'm speaking in layman's terms here, but the whole set-up was intuitive and easy to grasp. I found ECO mode is a great option for conserving the battery while moving at a snail's pace through the city, and it's a testament to the power the Leaf harnesses because its fierce acceleration, which is palpable in Drive mode, becomes demure in comparison when switched to ECO.
So where does a downtowner go when they have no plans and are handed a car for the evening? One word: IKEA. This may also be a good time to mention that the sky was rapidly progressing from overcast to ominous. Suddenly, the branches of trees were buckling from the forceful winds. I considered postponing my trip to the palace of mass-produced Swedish ingenuity, but figured that a little rain never hurt anyone. Shortly after turning onto Mount Pleasant toward North York, the sky opened up.
The torrential downpour that followed lasted at least 15 minutes. Traffic slowed, and I worried at first that the little Leaf would be swept downstream with the rest of the debris in the street (I think I
saw a couple stray cats and the roof of a shed float by...okay, I exaggerate), but after I adjusted to driving with an approximately 12-inch visibility, the car handled like a champ. It got me steadily,
assuredly and safely to my destination (where I restrained myself from buying too much cute but useless stuff my apartment doesn't actually need).
The Leaf impressed me in some inclement weather - I think next time we should take on the icy streets in winter to see how it fares.