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Increase Your Nissan LEAF's Performance with This Little Trick

How many of you grew up with a stick shift in your car? I know stick shifts and manual transmissions started fading way back when auto transmissions started taking over. Do you long for the day when you used to have the power to downshift when you wanted to slow down and upshift when you needed that next increase in speed?


Those days are long gone in an electric car as none to my knowledge even come with this option. My first car I converted to EV was a stick shift car and the car I took my driver’s test in was a stick shift. Thus, I’m prone to actually like driving a stick shift car.

The shift mechanism in the Nissan LEAF gives you some opportunities if you like this driving style. It also increases the performance if you have tried this technique that I use sometimes while driving my Leaf. The performance increases are acceleration and power regeneration.

In the 2013 version of the Leaf that I have Drive mode and Drive Eco mode available on the shifter. Since I live in the hills of northwestern, NJ and happen to live at the top of one of these hills, I always start my trip down the hill with a full pack. This means, regen, doesn’t really do much for me as it is turned off when the pack is full.

Thus, what I do to maximize the driving experience is to start out with the car in Drive mode. This pushes the acceleration out at the maximum allowed. You can spin the front tires in this mode. This also uses much more energy which in turn lowers your batteries capacity. This also enables you to experience the torque of the EV much more and is much more fun to drive in this mode. Now here is the stick shift throwback you can use to still capture regen even from the top of a hill. After you have driven in Drive mode switch it back to DriveEco mode to see the increased regen you can capture. Then as you slow down, switch it back into Drive mode and accelerate.

I am amazed at how the car responds and how it improves my LEAF's performacne.

Trying shifting back and forth from Drive to DriveEco and enjoy your car like it was a race car. It is so much fun. If you have had the chance to drive the Tesla Roadster, it almost becomes similar to the heavy regen you get with that car. It almost becomes one pedal driving.

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lda (not verified)    November 17, 2017 - 6:44AM

My understanding (perhaps flawed?) is that using ECO mode causes the "tuning" of the accelerator pedal to change. The perceived power is reduced since there is less energy earlier in the motion of the pedal.

Otherwise, there is same power with ECO and non-ECO as far as how much energy is being sent to the motor at the same number of green circles illuminated.

I base this on being able to got up a long steep hill at 94 mph (indicated) at both ECO and non-ECO. That's actually much faster than I thought the 2015 24kW Leaf would go. However, I have read that the Leaf is speed-regulated-limited to 94 mph, so maybe that isn't the best test?