Nissan LEAF: Faster 0-60 MPH Than a (Classic) Mustang?


I’m not sure who was the first car reviewer or company to test their cars based on their acceleration from 0-60 mph, but it has since become the standard of the world. Nothing is more important to speed enthusiasts like myself than those first few seconds after takeoff. It doesn’t just have to do with the thrill though, as 0-60 mph can be a good gauge of a car’s highway merging ability. We all hate getting stuck behind the guy who proceeds up the on-ramp with all the speed of a Model-T.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; electric cars can, and should be fast. So it does not surprise me to hear that the Nissan Leaf can apparently go from 0-60 mph in just 7 seconds.

Nissan’s little electric car isn’t exactly built for speed, but rather commuting. That said, electric motors can deliver 100% of its peak torque at 0 rpm. That means from the moment you touch the gas pedal, all the power the car has is right there, ready to go. Even for a humble commuter like the Leaf, that is quite a bit of torque on tap. Going from 0-60 mph in just 7 seconds, as Green Car Advisor’s Jack O’Dell did, is a very respectable performance. He also tested out the top speed, which he says is a bit north of Nissan’s official 90 mph estimate (he got to about 92 mph).

Compare it to some other cars fuel efficient cars, and you’ll see what I mean. The Chevy Volt takes about 9-seconds, the Toyota Prius takes about 10 seconds, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV takes almost 12 seconds to reach 60 mph. On the other end of the spectrum, the Nissan 370Z takes about 5 seconds, the Maxima takes about 6 seconds, and the Nissan Versa (upon which the Leaf is based) takes 9.5 seconds to reach 60 mph. So really, the Leaf is on the “faster” side of the 0-60 gauntlet, though I wouldn’t quite call it fast (especially since I haven’t had any seat time). Generally, anything that gets to 60 mph in 6 seconds or less has good performance, so the Leaf is right on the cusp.

As I was going down the 0-60 mph list though, I noticed most of the cars in this range are rather…boring. Why not compare it to something a little less sophisticated, yet a whole lot more exciting? Yes, I’d like to line up a Nissan Leaf against a 1967 Ford Mustang GT with the 390 V8 engine. I am a muscle car nut through and through, but I’d put my money on the Leaf, because it took the ’67 Mustang GT about 7.5 seconds to reach 60 mph according to multiple Internet sources. Ya, those original muscle cars weren’t that fast…they just felt fast. I should know, I own a 1969 Mercury Cougar (the “gentleman’s Mustang”.)

Yeah, I went there. The Nissan Leaf is faster than a ’67 Mustang. Anybody want to loan me a ’67 Mustang and a Leaf to prove it?

Source: Green Car Advisor

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • “Generally, anything that gets to 60 mph in 6 seconds or less has good performance, so the Leaf is right on the cusp.”

    I’d be a little more generous and say that anything with 7 seconds or less is generally considered good performance. Six seconds or less is “great” performance.
    (Cutting edge performance, e.g. ZR1, Viper, Lamborghini, is in the 3.5 second range.)

  • ziv

    I am with Tim on this. If the Leaf can do 0-60 in 7 seconds vs. the Volts 8.8 seconds, that is a pretty quick car. Imagine what it is doing 0-30 in.
    But how in the world can the Leaf beat the Volt that badly when the Volt outweighs the Leaf by just 290 lbs? 3500 to 3790 is showing the Volt at 8% heavier than the Leafs weight, but the HP is 110 to 149, Leaf to Volt, so the Volt comes in at 35% more ponies. Torque is nearly as lopsided in the Volts favor, the Leafs 210 lb. ft. to the Volts 273 lb.ft, which means the Volt has 30% more torque. How did the Leaf beat the Volt, let alone beat it badly?

    • The Leaf is actually 3360 lbs acording to current reports (same as plug-in Prius)– 3500 was an early estimate. So the LEAF is 430 lbs lighter…

      And the weight does not go up when you fill it up… so that would add (7.3 lb/gallon * 9.3 gallons)68 lb to the Volt. With a full tank in the Volt, the LEAF is ~500 lbs lighter.

      And if you are wondering about why real world acceleration tests are quicker than expected or claimed by Nissan- remember the GTR. Nissan tends to understate their performance and power output.

      • ziv

        Motor Trend just published their test drive results with the Leaf and, no surprise, the Leaf got a 0-60 time of 10 seconds with 2 people in the car. INE is right about the weight, it is less than 3500 lbs curb weight, MT has it at 3400 lbs. And curb weight includes gasoline, which helps the Volt a bit since its weight goes down from the curb weight as you use gas. Not that the Volt uses that much anyway.
        What a surprise, an EV enthusiast claims 7 second 0-60 times and Motor Trend claims it gets closer to 10 seconds. Wonder how that happened?

      • ziv

        It looks like Car & Driver has the Leaf 0-60 at 10 seconds as well, a rolling start 5-60 mph clocked at 9.8 seconds. So MT and C&D both say the Leaf does 0-60 in 10 seconds. The Leaf is going to sell hundreds of thousands of cars, but it will sell less if we claim it can do something it can’t. I will bet serious money that by 2013 the Leaf will have a longer range and a faster 0-60 time, but not yet.

      • I wish the other people would notice that Nissan always understate there cars, but I guess for some people who have not driven or cared to drive a Nissan will never know. That is why when the Porsche vs Nissan Nurburghring time fiasco came on the internet I could just sit back and laugh at Porsche for been idiots. Knew Nissan never never never NEVER over estimate times or speed.

  • Let’s also compare to some other electric cars, for instance, 3.7 seconds for a Tesla Roadster and 5.6 seconds for a Model S. So it seems like 7 for the Leaf ain’t bad at all.

  • Tom

    “That means from the moment you touch the gas pedal”…What gas???

  • An EV does not have a “gas pedal”! 😉 It has an accelerator pedal.

    It is odd that people are so focused on acceleration, and yet they pull away at green lights at a rate of about 0-60 in 45 seconds, or stop at yield signs on the entrance ramp on highways…

    Sincerely, Neil

  • Motor Trend says 0-60 in about 10 seconds in their detailed drive review of the Leaf that just got published at their site. Hmmmm.

  • I think the mustang would beat the leaf in the 1/4 mile though. To me, 1/4 mile is more revealing of a vehicle’s true performance but 0-60 time is a better estimate of “fun factor for street drive-ability”, if that makes sense.

  • There is NO WAY the LEAF did a 7 second 0-60. We tried it twice (albeit with the TC on) and only managed ~10 seconds. Maybe with the TC off we could have lopped off another .5 of a second. So I’d say 9.5 seconds at best, just like the Versa. And you know what, that’s just fine….it’s a respectable 0-60 time for a car of the LEAF’s weight.

    • Actually, make that 9 seconds…there were two of us in the car, each at around 200lbs, and I forgot that we had the AC on too! : )

  • hi there it diffently out perforfes the vw beattle with a 1.9 litter tdi engine if i am right my 0 to 60 is 11.1 seconds soo even at 9 or 7 seconds zero emissions i will diffently buy a leaf if leafe could have a super sport version with 0 too 60 in 5 seconds my be 5 years in the future in 2015 but i do get 60 mpg

  • On the negative side:

    Well first of all, the Leaf is uglier than sin.

    It seems so small that if Grannies golf cart hit it, the passenger in the Leaf would be dead.

    In Texas with the air on, radio on we might be able to get to the grocery store and back, a 24 mile round trip.

    0 to 60 in 7 seconds – bovine defecation

    Foreign car – we need to buy American.

    Electricity is made with lots of coal; all these little POS’s will do is add more poison to the atmosphere.

    Batteries are lead and acid, disposing of them is another environmental nightmare.

    Dangerous for the home mechanic to work on these.

    I would bet the battery life is somewhere around 5 years and then a replacement of about $ 6000.00, where is the saving.

    On the positive side:

    Easy to wash and wax, it is so small, should not take over a half an hour, but who would want to?

    “There is no substitute for horsepower except more horsepower.”

    • @Pete Stulginski:

      You’re wrong on so many counts…actually I’m not sure you’re right on any of them now that I look at it (although I’ll ignore the purely subjective opinions…I think it actually looks quite nice :).

      The leaf is not that small, no matter how you measure it. It’s heavier than many midsized cars, and has more interior room than many of them. It has received max ratitngs in every crash testing done so far, and been given the highest safety ratings by every agency as well.

      In Austin, TX, during the months of July and August (when we were above 100 EVERY DAY), my range was about 80-85 miles. I actually drove 77 miles one day, in 108 degree heat, on the highway for about 80% of my driving, and still had 12 miles left, so I’ll leave you to figure that out).

      0-60 times, I’m not sure. I’ve seen everything from 7 seconds to 10 seconds. I’ve owned fast cars in the past (and driven faster ones), and the Leaf seems quite fast (I’d guess something in the 8 second range, but it FEELS much faster because of the instant on torque).

      Even running on 100% coal produced energy, the Leaf is cleaner than the most efficient gasoline engine you can buy. Personally, we’ve just installed solar panels, and will be running it on 100% non-polluting solar power.

      Batteries are NOT lead and acid. They’re Lithium, and are about 99% recyclable.

      How are they dangerous? Because of the battery? Have you every replaced a light switch? You don’t work on them while the power is on…

      Battery life is WARRANTIED for 8 years/80,000 miles. So Nissan thinks they’ll last at least that long (probably longer). Oh, and that’s just when they’ve dropped to 80% power, they can still keep working for many, many years after that if you don’t need the full range. And, you can actually replace the battery cells indvidually, so you don’t have to replace the entire battery pack at once (which would actually probably cost more like $10,000). You just replace any cells that have deteriorated.

      Cheap to run and maintain. I used up 180KWh for the entire month of July (even with 100+ degree heat every day), to travel about 1100 miles. That cost me a total of about $19. And other than rotating the tires every 7500 miles, there really isn’t any maintenance costs.

      You really shouldn’t spout off about things you are completely ignorant on…

      Oh, and FWIW, I LOVE MY LEAF.

      Leaf owner since June, 2011

    • Pete’s A. Jackass

      You’re a hillbilly little Pete. The leaf is an amazing car. You on the other hand are a Jackass.

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  • ModernEngineering

    That 0-60mph number is a LIE. based on someone’s wrist watch and Has NEVER been verified. C&D, MT and Edmund all clock it at more than 9.7 seconds…

  • jj

    You are forgetting the 390 Mustang will spin the tires,struggle for traction.
    Thus the 7.5 second 0-60 ,add modern tires or slicks it is a high 4 mid 5 second 0-60 and a 13 second 1/4 mile !
    Road Tests back then were all over the map because of tire spinning..Thats why older cars on paper dont seem impressive to the untrained person.
    Road Tests back in the day ran slow times due to tire spinning and a magazine back then added 10′ slicks on a new 440 Plymouth Cuda,not a sticky as a modern tire and a new 440 Cuda ran low 12’s in the 1/4 and it was 14 seconds in the 1/4 with the skiny 14′ tires.
    I had a 390 Mustang and it would throw you in your seat, and lots of tire smoke.

  • danwat1234

    A Chevy Volt that is hacked can do 0-60 in 6 seconds, by boosting electric motor output and having the engine help drive the car at the same time! It would totally pwn a Leaf with the tweaks this guy did

    I wonder how he did that.

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  • Jimmy

    Stupid “facts”?!!! Any 67 mustang gt would anyday do low 5 secs noth 60 mph, besides who dares to compare an icon which has gone trhough cultures & decades against such ugly ass fish car for nerdy gays??? This is offensive from every angle!