We had a couple of chilly days this week here in Ottawa and we took the opportunity to test the cold weather package for the first time. It wasn’t *really* code yet, just a few degrees above zero Celsius (32F), but just enough to familiarize with to the winter-related features of the Leaf.
First in the list were the heated seats. There are two temperature levels: Low and High. We tried both settings and the low one was more than enough for this time of the year. The back seats are also heated and the switch is on the side of the front passenger seat. We only had one person on the back and we were not sure if the middle seat is heated or not. Assuming the middle passenger will be squeezed but two (hopefully warm) people, I don’t think a heated seat in the middle would be necessary.
The heated steering wheel is *really* nice. It feels very warm and comfortable. Gone will be days when I had to put my hands in front of the air flow to get some heat. You turn the heater on by using a switch on the left panel, between the steering wheel and the door. There’s only one temperature level.
There are really only two reasons why you would need a heated air flow: one, to heat up your feet, and two, to get some air flow on the windshield and help get rid of the fog. That’s probably the settings will be using the most.
There’s a huge difference in energy consumption between the air heater and the other heaters. By monitoring the energy efficiency display, we can tell that the heated seats and steering wheel are *very* efficient. On the other hand, the air heater is a hog, especially when you first turn it on and there’s a huge gap between the current and programmed temperatures. Therefore, there are two things you should know from day one:
– Use the heated seats and steering wheel as much as you can and program the air temperature to the minimum level of your comfort. The lowest temperature you can set is 18C (64F) but I found 20C (68F) to be already quite comfortable.
– Pre-heat your car before you leave and while it’s still plugged in. You can do that remotely using the Nissan Leaf app on your smartphone. This is very important because most of the energy is spent bringing the temperature up to the level you programmed so it’s better to do that with the energy from the grid, not from your battery. Once the temperature is there, keeping it at he same level doesn’t use as much energy, so it will have a much lower impact on your range.
The rear window defrost works fine to get rid of the fog. That’s how far we tested it because we haven’t had any real frost yet. That will have to wait a bit more to be tested.
I also notice the Leaf writes a message “Low outside temperature” on the display when you first turn it on if the temperature is around 2C (36F).
I think that’s about it for now. It’s still too early to say how much the cold will affect our range, but it’s been a good exercise to start getting used to the new routine and learning how to use the heating items more efficiently.