Is the Nissan LEAF ugly?


editors-blog-entry3I used to think the Nissan LEAF was truly ugly. And, although the LEAF has grown on me somewhat, I’m still not thrilled about its exterior design.

In fact, even though I’ve put down $99 to reserve a new LEAF, two things might end up pushing me toward another electric car – and the LEAF’s looks are one of these (the 3.3 kW onboard charger for the early LEAFs is the other).

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What don’t I like about the LEAF look?

Basically, it’s just a little bit too ‘out there’ for me.

I know, I know. That’s supposedly going to be the attraction for some — Nissan is obviously hoping many — folks.

LEAF screams ‘I’m different’
The LEAF screams, ‘Look at me, I’m different. I’m an electric car!’

I’m definitely all for the ‘Look at me’ part. In fact, I’m going to ad-wrap our first EV and advertise to the world that we’re running our car 100 percent on clean, renewable, affordable solar.

leaf-ugly-frontIt’s the ‘I’m different’ part that I’m stumbling over. No, it’s not really that – it’s the specific way Nissan designers have chosen to express the ‘I’m different’ statement.

Simply put, the LEAF is just too bulbous for my auto design tastes.

I’ll bullet-point what I don’t like about the LEAF’s exterior design:

  • The nose of the car is too long;
  • The headlights are set too high – and the plastic housing they sit in is just way too big and, yes, long;
  • The windshield is too sloping and, yes, long (at least this might make for good visibility for the driver);
  • The general slope of the entire front end of the car is too low, and, you guessed it, too long (yes, I know it’s good for aerodynamics, but that doesn’t mean it looks good);
  • The back-end of the LEAF, from the side, slopes out too much; or, put differently, it doesn’t drop down straight enough for my admittedly somewhat conservative auto design tastes;
  • The partial side/front view of the LEAF is my least favorite view. This view accentuates the car’s unconventional sloping and angling most;

leaf-ugly-backLEAF’s design not all bad
I do like some of the LEAF’s exterior design features. Here they are, bullet-point style:

  • The LEAF looks fine in a direct side view. This view flattens the car — at least in photos — and erases some of its bulbousness;
  • The direct, 2-D view of the front end of the car is also palatable;
  • I really like the direct rear-view of the LEAF (in most photos); of course, the rear of the LEAF is arguably the most conventional looking part of Nissan’s all-electric car;

In sum, when it comes to auto design, I’m a creature of convention – or at least of of fairly boxy design lines. To give you an idea of just how conventional my auto design tastes are, one of my favorite cars in terms of looks is the Acura TSX.

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The LEAF is clearly not a conventionally designed car. I know that’s a plus for many prospective LEAF buyers — just not for this one.

And it just might be enough to push me away from the LEAF and toward a more conventional looking EV, possibly a Ford Focus Electric, which most likely will be more affordable than the CODA Automotive EV Sedan (CODA’s EV has pretty much has everything I’d like to have in an EV, but it’s got a price tag — somewhere in the mid-$30,000 range after the Federal Tax Credit — that, for us, at least, is out of reach).

Of course, I might be the exception to the rule on the LEAF.

Where do you sit on the LEAF look – is the LEAF’s exterior design a plus, a minus, or perhaps neither one for you? Please let us – and Nissan — know what you think by posting your comments at the end of this article.


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