Nissan LEAF - Fast, Slow, In Between Compared To The Spark EV?

Nissan LEAF - Fast, Slow, In Between Compared To The Spark EV?

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Specs (Via Car & Driver)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Specs (Via Car & Driver)

I constantly hear people talking about how slow and boring the LEAF is to drive. But most LEAF owners find that their cars are actually quite fun to drive.  Zippy to drive around town,  yet roomy, smooth, quiet and refined on the freeway. It’s no wonder it is one of the best-selling EVs of all time.

When the Chevy Spark EV came out, I was impressed by the specs on paper. The 400lb torque rating on the engine seemed amazing. I immediately drove my 2012 LEAF SL to Bunin Chevrolet (Culver City) to test drive the Spark EV.

We know the biggest acceleration advantage for most EVs is right off the line. In that regard I just didn’t feel the Spark afforded any more acceleration pull from a stand-still than my 2012 LEAF SL. It definitely had more torque steer and more traction problems. The LEAF straight line stability when accelerating and it’s highway manners are truly exemplary.

So being the Spark is known as the little EV hotrod from GM, I figured it would be a good yardstick to measure the LEAF against. Above 40mph the Spark dominates the LEAF, but not before. After much testing and a good launch, the Spark EV didn’t feel any quicker than my 2012 LEAF 0-30 mph.

To validate my impressions, I hooked my Racelogic Vbox up to my 2012 LEAF and found the 0-30 mph times matched the Car And Driver test times for the Spark EV.

(Of note: Based on the Car And Driver test table, it seems the torque reduction of the 2013 LEAF, probably resulted in slower off the line acceleration for 2013+ models, ~3.4 secs with torque moving down from 210 to 187 lb-ft.  For the Spark EV the 2015/2016 edition of the Spark EV is now rated at 327 lb-ft from the previous 402 lb-ft, while the final drive ratio was increased from 3.17 to 3.87.  Also  at the same time, total battery capacity in the Spark EV changed from 21 kWh to 19kWh, when GM moved from A123 supplied cells to LG Chem - no changes in range/efficiency performance were noted by GM )

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV and 2012 Nissan LEAF SL VBox Results

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV and 2012 Nissan LEAF SL VBox Results

Could my larger, underpowered and heavier LEAF actually have a chance matching the acceleration of the little Spark EV off the line? The Vbox numbers sure indicate the two cars would be an even match. So the next step was to run them against each other in real life.  Did about 4 runs, and every time the results were the same. My 2012 LEAF is every bit as quick as the Spark EV in the stop light grand prix across an intersection in the 0-30mph range.

Run 1   0-50mph (video from LEAF)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv7ACEfdnDU

Run 2   0-40mph    (Spark Traction Control Button Depressed)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a-qH21puzk

Run 3  0-40mph    (Spark Traction Control Button Depressed)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7rDc2wzJ1g

So in conclusion, this is not to say the Spark EV is slow, but rather to validate the claims of many LEAF owners, that the car is still fun and zippy to drive around town, and a joy to drive on the highway, regardless of what you might hear to the contrary.

For fun I also included (below) my test results on the 2015 BMW i3 REx, 2015 BMW BEV and Tesla P85D:

Other Notable Plug-In Timed Runs (R-L: BMW i3 REx, BMW i3 BEV, Tesla Model S P85D)

Other Notable Plug-In Timed Runs (R-L: BMW i3 REx, BMW i3 BEV, Tesla Model S P85D)