What’s The Difference 0-30 MPH: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Vs 2012 Nissan LEAF (videos)

NOV 9 2015 BY WARREN M 73

Nissan LEAF - Fast, Slow, In Between?

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)

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

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

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)



Categories: Chevrolet, Nissan


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73 Comments on "What’s The Difference 0-30 MPH: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Vs 2012 Nissan LEAF (videos)"

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I love my 2015 Leaf. It’s fast, roomy and functional. I live on a hilly area and i kick everybody’s A.. going up the hill.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaFJV34giQ7jkYf34WlSkog/videos

So the Spark is smaller & lighter(?) than the Leaf yet the Leaf performs pretty much the same.

For cargo, I would buy the LEAF.

Only in 0-30mph…

Unless you only drive around inner city or school zones, then yes LEAF is about as quick.

But if you drive it like most people, on hwys or suburbia, then no.

It would’ve been more interesting to test 2015 instead of 2014. 2015 is lighter battery (~18%) in addition to other things mentioned in article like lower gearing, peak torque. Gear+weight would make 0-30 quicker than 2014 model, although lower peak torque (probably software limited) would make it slower, and overall would be ?

Another interesting would be Fiat 500e. Those things are quick to 30! Only if they come with DCFC, bit roomier in back, cheaper, and not have Sergio as CEO, it’d be a nice EV.

I went over this article again, and it’s like Leaf promo, not an objective test. They take 2012 Leaf that supposedly has better performance compared to later model against 2014 SparkEV that may have poorer performance compared to 2015 model. Chevy website showed 2015 to perform better.

So what we get here is that worst case SparkEV holds up well against best case Leaf to 30mph.

Then I see the times. While all other cars have 0-60 listed (piss poor for SparkEV, no surprise there considering the competition), but Leaf isn’t even listed to 60mph. Too embarrased?

The takeaway from this? The testers were so biased to put Leaf in good light that the results are dubious at best, fraud at worst.

overreaction there, title says everything about this comparison that you have issue with very much in the open:

What’s The Difference 0-30 MPH: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Vs 2012 Nissan LEAF

author isn’t saying spark ev is bad, just using to show the leaf is not as slow as the sterotype, spark and leaf about the same off the line, spark much better after 30 mph and puts note about new models both being different

“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”

The author made sure to point out torque steer and freeway jitteriness of SparkEV due to higher power and having one of the highest head rooms among cars. Yet there’s no mention of the fact that SparkEV has 140HP (and lighter) vs Leaf’s 105HP (and heavier), nor the head room more than Tesla S.

The result for all other EV shows 0-60 times, except for Leaf.

If it’s only comparison of 2014 SparkEV vs 2012 Leaf in 0-30mph, no problem. But the article goes out of its way to put Leaf in better light and SparkEV in worse light. Calling it a fraud at worst is warranted. I don’t know why such blatantly biased article is even in InsideEV.

Well no this is not an objective test Spark EV.
It’s a test with you and other’s as an objective.
Since reading every comment you made about the Leaf, being soooooo slow, your claim just got debunk.
It just isn’t as slow as you shout everywhere.
All Leafer know so you should just acknowledge and quit with some dignity.

I’ll concede that biased testing with quickest MY Leaf against slowest MY SparkEV to 30 MPH, Leaf MAY HAVE BEEN able to keep up.

0-30 time might be fine for show off in front of school zone (25 MPH limit), but 0-60 time is what’s really important as it counts in merging to freeway traffic. In that, SparkEV would be 2.8 seconds quicker than Leaf. Warren said his Leaf is about 10.8 sec while Vbox shows 8.0 seconds for slowest SparkEV. So yeah, Leaf is still very slow.

The SL is the heaviest trim level of the Leaf.
The 10-12 Leaf weights more than 13-15 Leaf.

They have already used the slowest possible Leaf.

From the article “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. ” 2012 Leaf is lot quicker than 2013.

2014 SparkEV was 0-60 7.6 seconds and 2015 was 7.2 seconds from Chevy web site. How that translates to 0-30 isn’t known, but I suspect 2015 would be quicker due to being lighter with same power / torque at wheels.

The Spark EV was never touted as the best off the line – the Fiat 500e had a faster time in the CD test – due to its final drive ratio being too long legged for quick starts. However as CD discovered, it doesn’t quit pulling hard to its limits while the others including the LEAF poop out early.

Maybe the author ought to hold a beauty contest between the two to see which one wins the prize for being the ugliest ):

I suspect that the Spark’s motor, despite its 400 lb/ft of torque is being limited by the inverter to something far less impressive. The probable reason, as you point out, is the suspension can’t handle that amount of torque. Another possible reason for limiting power output is to squeeze as much range out of the battery.

That, and front-drive vehicles don’t do well with huge amounts of power. As the vehicle’s weight shifts rearward during acceleration, the amount of weight-related friction on the front tires greatly decreases. This is why performance cars are all- or rear-wheel drive.

Yes absolutely the Spark EV’s inverter is limiting power…this thing should technically sit there and spin the front wheels. Instead he power feels held back off the line.

The car’s response in mid-range and on the roll is completely different…as if you’re driving a completely different car.

The Spark EV is probably going to be abandoned as soon as the Bolt hits the market. But it has served as a great entry pure EV for GM. A little bigger battery and 6KW charging would be nice but as is, it is a great little EV.

Yeah, I know cancellation is inevitable, but abandoning such great little EV is such waste. I mean, GM already spent all the money developing it, why cancel it? Only would GM throw away such great gem and opportunity knocking at its door (repeat of EV1).

SparkEV has set the performance bar for next gen mid/low cost EV. So far, only BMW i3 has risen to the challenge, though at much higher price.

Well, the Spark EV is a retrofit. Designing an EV from the ground up is always better.

But the Spark EV is a great retrofit.

To save cost, it would’ve been best to do retrofit. Result isn’t spectacular in many respects, but it’s cheap, and better bang for the buck than any EV other than P90D.

In fact, I hope they do more retrofits and make it great like SparkEV if it’ll cut cost. I can’t see myself in $30K any car, but SparkEV $16K is almost a certainty, EV or otherwise.

We might be wrong about SparkEV not being ground up EV. Found it on Tesla forum, it sounds like it was ground up EV, converted to gas, now back to EV. 🙂 From Tesla forum, user name “Red” “Actually GM is wrong when admitting the Spark was not designed as an EV. It actually was, just not thoroughly, because it was one of the earliest ones. Spark is basically a reworked Daewoo Matiz, which was originally designed by Italdesign for a partnership between FIAT and the EV drive train pioneer Miro Zoric, who created the first inverters for AC motors, yes, even those in the Tesla. First for industrial use and then for automotive use. He also made first drive trains for GM’s EV1, for instance… AC motors were a non existing option for cars before that. They were not controllable. In a way, due to that breakthrough, today batteries are the narrow throat, since AC drive trains are usable and efficient now. Anyway, what was later known as Matiz, was originally intended to be FIAT’s first electric car. A small but zippy city commuter. Due to administrative issues, Gianni Agnelli’s desire to have each FIAT model also have an… Read more »
SparkEV said: “…abandoning such great little EV is such waste. I mean, GM already spent all the money developing it, why cancel it? … SparkEV has set the performance bar for next gen mid/low cost EV.” It seems unfair to criticize the Spark for not being something GM never intended it to be: a true mass produced EV. It’s good that you compare the Spark to the EV1, because neither was intended by GM to be produced in large numbers. If that had been GM’s plan, they would have had to put a much higher price tag on it, to avoid losing massive amounts of money. Hopefully GM has achieved what it intended to with the program… and I don’t mean earning a few carbon credits, I mean getting the experience they needed to design a compelling BEV intended to be sold in large numbers. In fact, you yourself touch on this when you write “SparkEV has set the performance bar…” We’ll have to see how well the Bolt does. If it does well, and if GM sells all the market will bear (as it does with the Volt), then we can pronounce the Spark a success, insofar as the… Read more »

I don’t know if SparkEV would have to be much higher priced. Nissan Leaf is converted versa (ie, lots of new metal), yet the S model cost comparable to SparkEV. By comparison, SparkEV has very little new metal. It also has much smaller battery, 19 kWh vs Leaf’s 24kWh. Battey cost savings alone would make SparkEV competitive in its current price form.

If I’m into conspiracy, I’d say GM wants to kill EV. But more reasonable explanation might be that they want to push Volt/Bolt, and they don’t want SparkEV eating into 200,000 EV limit on federal tax subsidy. They have less than 100K left.

In any case, it’s sad to see it go, if it goes. It’s a fantastic EV, well worthy of EV1 legacy.

I personally love my little Spark EV. For the lease price I’m paying ($185), it’s a wonderful car that fits the requirements I had for a full EV: cheap, DCFC capable, 4 passenger, modest cargo. Add to that, it’s actually fun to drive (not as much fun as my wife’s Corvette, but still).

The other plus for the Spark EV that I think has it stand out above the Leaf was when I started driving it more in San Francisco. If you’ve driven in the city you’ll understand the concept of “claustrophobic” … narrow streets, tight turns, tiny parking spaces. I found that the Spark EV being so small made getting around that city actually a pleasure. Even went cheerfully down Lombard Street.

‘when they switched from A123 to LG’ – oh, so its apples fault?

A little off topic but for the love of all that is holy will somebody please Vbox a 2016 Volt so we can finally put to rest the performance numbers.


Did you measure the 0-60 time of your Leaf? I’m curious to see it.

All this proves is that the little spark can evenly hang to 30MPH from a stop, but boy does it put a hurting on the LEAF once you move past that. I’d be embarrassed to try and race a car and then after 30MPH have it walk right past me. It would be impressive if it got a jump on me, but according to these numbers all is even to 30MPH and then the spark puts a beating on the LEAF. It must be rather embarrassing to get a launch like that and only be good for 3 seconds and then have to realize you own one of the slowest EV to 60MPH.

Why has the author intentionally left the acceleration times off the leaf after 30. Are the numbers that bad to not want anyone to see them? I find the spark to be a powerhouse at any speed when the go pedal is put to the floor. Can the same be said about the leaf?

As slanted as it is, why is this even a featured story here?

Yes. LOL it is horrible…

0-30mph take about 3.1 sec
30-60mph take about 6.7 secs

Nissan fans only quote the 0-30mph times… LOL. After all, that is all it got. It really gives more meaning to “glorified golf cart”.

Luckily we have cars such as i3 and Model S to set the EV image straight.

Hum, a golf cart don’t go faster than 12-15 m.p.h.!
Nobody ever said that the Leaf was a catapult, but it wasn’t meant to be one.
Still faster than you complain at every occasion.
(Disclaimer: I own a 2012 Leaf) but for that reason I can assure you that it’s much more useful and fast than what you pretend without having properly driving one.
And you are giving too much attention to acceleration in a useless sense.
Going over 30-40 m.p.h. in just about any city street isn’t legal, and the Leaf does that faster than you need to do.
I keep beating so called faster car over and over an…you get it?
No I think you just won’t get it!
BTW, it’s also pretty good on highway at higher speed for civilian driving.
It’s not a jet fighter but no car is.

“Going over 30-40 m.p.h. in just about any city street isn’t legal”

Thus, the City car classification.

Warren wrote that his Leaf is now 10.8 sec to 60MPH. That would mean 30-60 would be 7.7 seconds when 0-30 is 3.1 seconds. Can this be right? It can’t be that slow, can it?

The 2014 MB EV can be bought for $28,000 with 3000 miles and a 36 kWh pack.

Really surprising results to me, but then I drive a 2013 Leaf regularly, and the Spark EV that I tested briefly was also a 2013. The Spark seemed much quicker at the time, so maybe that’s down to the changes mentioned in the article.

0-30mph is where you compare Golf carts or needed to dart in an inner city traffic.

30-60mph is where you need to drive on the hwys, merging on hwys or driving on suburban roads.

Concentrating on 0-30mph just adds more evidence to how LEAF is really nothing more than a “city car”.

Low end BEV often gears heavily to achieve great 0-30mph times by sacrificing high end performance and top speed. After all, what do you expect since their owners often drive some crappy econo box or hybrids before their current LEAF. What do they know? LOL.

2011/2012 LEAF were the slightly quicker version.

2013 or later models got “detuned” and is even slower.

Yes, 0-30mph is about the only “performance” number that LEAF fan can hang on because it got nothing else in the performance category.

The Spark EV handily beats the LEAF in real world range according to independent testing by EV advocate Tony Williams who last I checked owns a Toyota RAV4 EV.

Given the Spark EV’s strengths vis a vis the LEAF, the Bolt is without a doubt going to be positively terrific – definitely worth waiting for.

Too bad the Nissan Leaf is tied with Mitsubishi I-miev for ugliest car design ever. I guess we will allow it to have a win somewhere. Oh wait, according to these numbers, it actually tied the 0-30 with the spark and then the author is too embarrassed to give us the acceleration numbers beyond 30MPH. I like the leaf, but why did Nissan design it so that everyone who sees it thinks it got beat with an ugly stick

“I hooked my Racelogic Vbox up to my 2012 LEAF”

I laughed out loud….

All jokes aside, I do appreciate the Vbox numbers for these cars. It is definitely good to see these sort of test results for EV’s. It helps quantify the unknowns for these vehicles.

The article unnecessarily lost a lot of credibility by leaving out the Leaf times past 30mph. The article would have been considerably improved if both cars were given their due on their respective strong and weak points.

Lame article with the author bullying message posters.

Lame article, sure, but not sure about bullying. If this is bullying, I take them on. I guess that’s the spirit of SparkEV, the little tike that could.

It is lame for sure.

But I wouldn’t call it bulleying…

It is fair game to stick with the numbers and we don’t need personal bias that is based on imagination.

Numbers speak for themselves.

LEAF is decent in 0-30mph, but that is it. 30mph is 44 ft/s. So, a 0.1 to 0.3 seconds are generally only give you about 4.4 ft to 13.2 ft of advantage.

That advantage is very important in racing or real world. But the LEAF loses that acceleration so much after 30mph, all that gain are quickly gone within couple seconds.

60mph is 88ft/s. LEAF is often 2-3 seconds slower than the Spark EV. That is more than 150 fts of advantage you can’t wipe out easily with your 0-30mph advantage unless you top out at 30mph.

Yes, that is where NEVs top out at… LOL!

I also laugh at warren when he mentions his battery degrades make his car slower. I didn’t know the amount of charge left on your battery caused your 0-60 numbers to drop. The energy loss of your battery should not affect its acceleration times, just your overall range. He beats up on the poor little spark which is only sold in two states as a compliance car in small production numbers. He says the leaf has sold thousands of units in comparison. No kidding dummy. The leaf is sold worldwide, is produced in large numbers and has been on the market for three times as long. I’m not it’s a good idea to compare the leaf to a spark. The leaf obviously is larger and refined with amenities such as that 80’s style graphic instrument cluster and weird styling. It’s must be hard to have owned such fast BMW’s and now you drive one of the slowest EV’s after 3 seconds. I bet you count out loud to three and then after that you turn off on a side street claiming a victorious win against cars who likely didn’t even know what was going on

Huh-ha! Brian, you is a funny guy…!

This article shows 0-60 for SparkEV as 8 seconds. Yet Motortrend showed 2014 as 7.5 seconds. Chevy web site had it at 7.6 seconds. How would this translate to 30? Probably quicker than this insideevs article would lead you to believe!


There’s another set of 1/4 mile tests by SparkEV forum guys who show similar 0-60 numbers as motortrend.

Run 1
Dist 0.25
Time 15.70
Speed 84.85
0-60 7.6

Run 2
Dist 0.25
Time 15.80
Speed 85.39
0-60 7.6

Run 3
Dist 0.25
Time 15.80
Speed 86.12
0-60 7.5


You forgot the 1 foot roll out that MT/CD both uses.

I think warren at this point is squarely going beyond acceleration times. It’s pretty clear he is willing at all cost to compare the leaf as a superior car when compared to the spark. It’s sad because the spark uses its platform from a converted gasoline econobox car and gives it great EV statistics right off the line. Great acceleration at just about any speed (not just 0-30), better range than when Nissan introduced their leaf, also has fast charging capability as an option, but more important is a thermal management system for those precious lithium ion batteries in which Nissan failed to equip all their cars with and hence your numerous leaf owners who have little range, loss of acceleration according to you, and batteries with premature life left in them. From a guy so interested in numbers and facts, you clearly dance around everything besides them. Clearly the Leaf according to your own vbox results does not out accelerate the spark and then from there the leaf loses in every other aspect to the spark in acceleration and battery heat management and life expectancy which seems huge from an engineering standpoint don’t you think? It might be lights… Read more »
I own a Spark EV and have had it for almost 2 years now. I can assure you that this car is FAR quicker than a Leaf if you drive it in a way where it takes advantage of the performance. Yes it’s a strange thing to say but after having owned this thing for this long, I’ve learned the DO’s and DON’Ts of how to drive this car. The car’s weakest link is its traction and suspension. Simply gunning this thing gives the worst performance as the traction control is extremely aggressive and the overall traction of the car is abysmal. I’ve found many times that cars that beat me off the line are left for dead in mid-range by my Spark EV. I am shocked at how fast this thing is from 25-70. I’ve gone up against some seriously quick German cars and found myself keeping up with them all the way to top speed and edging them out in some cases. However, off the line I’d get whooped. This is an odd little car with excellent performance only if you know how to utilize it. The rolling acceleration numbers had by C/D are conservative IMO because I… Read more »