As far as electric cars go, the Nissan Leaf is pretty much the top dog as it is. Some car reviewers have labeled it more appliance than automobile, and traditional outlets like Car & Driver haven’t minced words when it comes to the Leaf’s track performance. But Car & Driver actually went a step further, and attempted to do something a bit different; they wanted to see if they could make the Leaf more fun to drive, and in the process they brought its performance up to Porsche 911 levels.
I should qualify that statement by saying that they brought the lateral acceleration, i.e. the “skidpad” performance, up to Porsche levels. And they did this by simply switching out the Leaf’s stock Ecopia low-rolling resistence tires for some stickier rubber. We’ve already seen what a difference a few tire and suspension upgrades can do for the Leaf on the autocross track, so there seems to be at least some interest in improving the driving dynamics of the stock Leaf.
C&D found that by simply swapping out the stock Ecopia rubber for a set of Yokohama S.drive tires (which cost about $10 less per tire than the Ecopia) will improve the skidpad performance from .79 g’s to .84 g’s. Going up to Yokohama Advan Neova ADO8 added another .05 g’s, bringing lateral acceleration up to .89 g’s.
That’s actually an incredible step up in performance, though how much the range is affected, C&D does not test. They do however test the BF Goodrich g-Force R1, a barely street legal performance tire that boosts lateral acceleration to .96 g’s, nearly matching that of the Porsche 911 or the performance-oriented BMW M1 Coupe. Obviously much of the credit lies with the tire…but it also shows how nimble and fun to drive the electric Nissan Leaf can be with the investment of some new tires.
I don’t expect the Leaf to replace the Miata at track days any time soon, but I do hope more people start giving EV’s a chance to play at the track. The performance might surprise more than a few skeptics.
Source: Car & Driver