Muggers recently helped themselves to the Golf longtermer’s key, prompting VW to tow the vehicle from where it was temporarily parked on a city street to a Cape Town dealer until the spare key arrived from the company’s HQ in Uitenhage a few days later. This event allowed me to experience a rare commuting-related emotion – electric-range anxiety… Deputy editor Mike Fourie was flush with test vehicles, so I borrowed his Leaf for a few days to commute between CAR’s offices in the suburb of Pinelands and my apartment in the centre of Cape Town.
This 30 km round trip includes congested roads and free-flowing highway stretches. Now, consider that the Leaf has a realistic range of 120 km and you’d assume my brow would remain unfurrowed. But throw in a side trip to visit a friend or see a movie and that range swiftly shrinks (especially if you make enthusiastic use of the accelerator; the appeal of instant torque delivery is yet to wane). What follows are nervous glances at the range meter, followed by long division to figure out if you’ll make it to the destination with juice to spare.
What’s more, if you live in an apartment complex with basement parking, as I do, or park on the street, you can’t charge the battery. That excludes it as a set of weekend wheels. Extend the range (as Nissan will do with the facelifted Leaf) and set up quick-charging spots, and I could easily adapt to electric-car motoring.
After 3 months
Mileage on arrival: 139 km
Mileage now: 2 998 km
Energy consumption: 20,21 kWh/100 km
We like: comfort and refinement
We don’t like: Bluetooth often drops phone connections