Pure electric Nissan Leaf branches out to woo converts
PUBLISHED: 08:36 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:36 26 September 2018
With many manufacturers launching their first pure electric vehicles, EV pioneer Nissan has launched its second-generation Leaf, now a credible alternative to petrol and diesel power, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
It’s seven years since Nissan launched the Leaf, the first all-electric car from a major manufacturer – all very tomorrow’s world, exciting and futuristic but also a fear of the unknown.
My first taste of zero-emission electric motoring also introduced me to range anxiety as a 90-mile range on a full charge nearly left me stranded after just 60.
Nissan was a pioneer, the Leaf is now the world’s best-selling pure electric car with more than 350,000 sales, most of them first-time electric vehicle drivers. With many manufacturers only just switching to electric, Nissan has launched the second-generation Leaf and pushing the boundaries in terms of performance, power and range.
Looks and image
The dumpy, jelly-mould original model makes way for a bolder, eye-catching design more in keeping with driving the future.
It looks exciting, making you want to see if it lives up to the promise… it doesn’t disappoint.
Under the bonnet
An electric motor, mated to an automatic gearbox, but now with a 40kWh battery for more power, performance and range.
It leaves most family hatchbacks trailing off the mark thanks to 320Nm of torque all the way to 3,283rpm, then the maximum 150PS of power to 9,795rpm – this is a mean machine in every sense.
With such a smooth, quiet powertrain you notice tyre and wind noise.
The new real-world MPG testing gives it a range of up to 168 miles in normal driving – up to 242 miles in urban driving with eco mode – confirmed by my 110-mile trip leaving 55 miles in reserve.
A flap in front of the bonnet reveals two charging points – one for a domestic three-pin plug, taking up to 21 hours, and a 7kW home wall charger which takes 7.5 hours and the other for 50kW public fast chargers taking 40 to 60 minutes for an 80pc top-up.
How it drives
The Leaf is not designed to be exciting to drive but nor is it dull.
It corners flatly, with good grip and steering feel, to carry momentum through corners and avoids wasting battery power getting up to speed again, but the ride is on the firm side but not fidgety on rough surfaces.
The unique e-Pedal, which can be switched on and off, makes driving easy and relaxing – press the throttle to go, lift off to slow to a complete stop, which also adds charge to the battery, rather than use the brake pedal. It feels natural once confident with it.
Three-quarters of owners opt for ProPilot semi-autonomous driving system, standard on range-topping Tekna, which maintains speed, distance from the vehicle in front and within the lane markings in stop-start traffic or cruising but only if you keep your hands on the wheel. There’s also ProPilot Park for hands-off, feet-off forwards or backwards parallel and bay parking.
Space and comfort
It will seat five adults but rear legroom is limited, the back seat cushions are high to accommodate the big battery and there’s little footroom under the front seats.
The 385-litre boot is marred in Tekna by an extra speaker for the Bose sound system inconveniently sitting on the floor. Rear seat backs fold down 60/40 but there’s a big step up from the boot floor.
At the wheel
A conventional speedo, eco-power gauge instead of a rev counter and battery life and range readouts are easy to read. Connectivity is a strong point and the central infotainment display includes selectable data displays about energy use – techie owners will love them.
I’ll admit to still having some trepidation about living with the new Leaf but needn’t have worried with a little planning ahead. With the sat-nav and a phone app pinpointing charging points, and a personal account to pay for ‘juice’ if needed, it’s easy to plug into electric motoring.
This award-winning new Leaf is so good, it can even win hearts and minds.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Nissan Leaf Tekna from £28,390 after £4,500 plug-in grant (range from £25,190)
Powertrain: 110kw/150PS electric motor, 40kWh battery, and automatic transmission
Performance: 0-62mph 7.9 seconds; top speed 89mph
Range: 168 miles combined; 242 miles city (new WLTP real-world testing)
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 13pc
Insurance group: 21 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,490mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,030mm; H 1,540mm