The second-generation Nissan Leaf aims to electrify the affordable part of the EV market, more ways than one. It goes further not only in terms of powered-up range but also in its efforts to bring new levels of space, comfort, and technology to the full electric family. In short, it’s a sophisticated statement of just how far EV cars have come, whatever your opinion on EV motoring this Leaf is guaranteed to surprise you. Or will it?
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Think of an affordable all-electric car and you’ll probably be picturing a Nissan Leaf. The world’s best-selling EV.
The name is an acronym for leading environmentally-friendly affordable family cars, and this always has been with over 300,000 models sold since the original design first went on sale back in 2010.
Almost half of the fully electric vehicles on our roads are versions of this Nissan, now though the competition’s really ramping up, hence the need for this second-generation version.
It arrived in early 2018 just as the Eevee market was showing signs are finally taking off, fuelled by more usable battery technology, widespread improvements to our country’s public charging network, and general vilification of diesel power.
As before the Leaf is a focus class fiIonik electric. Now though, it feels confident enough to also reach out beyond those wedded to milk float mobility, and target mainstream buyers probably those looking for an alternative to diesel.
To interest, at least some of these people there was one thing this Nissen needed to dramatically improve, its operating range, to some extent that box has been ticked. The distance you can travel between charges is still some way off Tesla levels, but you can go almost twice as far as you could in early versions of the original model, thanks to a much gutsier 40-kilowatt hour battery.
It’ll also help that the car now looks more conventional and that it’s more drivable than before, courtesy of a tour Kia electric motor that’s now 40 percent more powerful.
A clever E-pedal system means you’ll hardly ever need to use the brake making your super-refined journeys even smoother. Plus there’s a pro pilot package that delivers semi-autonomous driving capability, and a pro pilot park system that will slot your Leaf into the tightest space at the press of a single button.
Starting Your Leaf
Can an electric car be enjoyable to drive? absolutely. It’s just that your parameters of what constitutes fun at the wheel, might need broadening a bit. Not that there seems many prospects of driving reward at startup, firing up a Leaf is about as interesting as setting a washing machine in motion.
You press the start button, there’s a momentary delay while virtual instrument zero-emission graphics spring up in front of you, and the various systems engage, then you’re ready to pull the mouse-shaped auto gear selector into drive, and set off.
A light tap on the throttle delivers the kind of seamless pull away demeanor you’d expect in this kind of car, but a sharp stab with the right foot fires the Leaf forward like a scalded cat.
If you’re not careful or the ground is slippery it’s pretty easy to spin the wheels, even if you’re not trying to look irresponsible. To some extent this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as all full-electric cars are initially quick off the mark, the torque, after all, gets directed straight to the tarmac.
Most though, tend to run out of puff above about 50 miles an hour, but this one doesn’t. The increase in system power from 110 to 150 PS this time round good enough to see this 62 miles an hour sprint benchmark disappear hot hatch style in just seven point nine seconds.
The fun stops pretty soon after that, top speed is limited to 89 miles an hour, but even if it wasn’t the rapid way that battery power diminishes with the foot to the floor driving, is enough of a deterrent to over-enthusiastic progress.
Anyway, there are other arguably more interesting ways you can engage with this car, or perhaps allow it to engage with you. The one Nissan feature they are keenest for us to talk about is the e-pedal system, introduced with the second-generation model.
In effect, this million hearts is an attribute that all full electric cars always have, namely the way that the energy regenerative process that kicks in when you come off the throttle slows the car so much that you hardly ever need to use the brake.
With this second generation Leaf, Nissen has developed that concept a little. Provided the E-pedal system is engaged you can turn it off if you want regenerative force from the powertrain is maximized when you come off the accelerator, so much in fact that the brake lights come on to alert following motorists as the car decelerates by up to 0.2g.
Rival electric cars like the e-golf, provide paddle-shift controls that allow you to vary the degree of regenerative input, accomplishing much the same thing. The difference with this Nissen though is that the system also brings ordinary friction disk braking into play at the end of the process, and can if necessary bring the car to a complete stop without you needing to touch the brake pedal.
It sounds a strange concept but you’ll adjust to it within 10 minutes of driving this car. Mostly the only time you’ll ever brake when driving a Leaf is when someone abruptly stops, or pulls out in front of you or of course when you’re doing a fully-fledged emergency stop.
Even better the whole process does a great job of sustaining the range of the lithium-ion battery, which this time around, has a substantially greater capacity up from 24-kilowatt hours to 40 kilowatt-hours in size.
Nissen has also developed an even gutsiest 60-kilowatt-hour battery for this model, but the 40 kilowatt-hour bear in time train here should be quite sufficient for the needs of most buyers, especially given the fact that the average person’s daily commute is no more than about 20 miles.
This cost potential operating range is almost doubled with this second generation design and is now officially rated at 168 miles, according to the latest more realistic worldwide harmonized light vehicle testing procedure (WHTP).
Sellers of other rival models you’ll come across may continue to quote range figures generated by the old rather irrelevant new European driving cycle test NEDC, which saw the range of this mark to Leaf rated at 235 miles.
The bottom line is that if you compare apples with apples you’ll find this Nissen able to take you around 25% further on a single charge than a VW E-Golf and almost twice as far as the all-electric version of BMWs i3.
In the field of all-electric motoring, only a vastly more expensive Tesla model can manage more, but are the quoted figures realistic? They rarely are with electric cars in our experience on this test, even the WLTP range prediction is a bit ambitious.
We’ve been getting 120-130 miles from each charge, which is about 40 to 50 miles more than we were achieving when we tested the previous generation version of this model.
That is after making copious use of the various range enhancing driving tools provided. The E-peddle system is one, but there are also others. We’re not sure why you’d want a full regenerative power train energy harvesting, without the friction braking element, but if so, a selectable besetting in the auto gearbox will provide it. And you can also activate an eco mode that restricts throttle response.
Of course, the range is less of an issue if charging is quick and easy. When one day the 50-kilowatt rapid charges that can replenish a depleted battery to around 80 percent of its capacity in just 40 minutes, a commonplace on our major routes, no one will think twice about taking an e V vehicle on a longer trip.
Charging Station App & Websites
Today though such a journey takes a little more planning, plenty of tools are available to make that process easier. There are plenty of apps and websites showing charge point locations, and provided you’ve avoided entry-level trim you’ll also find a point location map in the car as part of the Nissan connect an EV7 infotainment system.
This setup always knows where the nearest public charging point is, and can direct you straight to it. It will do so automatically should you reach perspiration point when your Leaf is seven to eight miles away from being empty of charge.
But let’s take a step away from range anxiety, and regenerative technology for a moment. This second-generation Leaf is promoted as an affordable family car that just happens to be powered by a battery. In short, it’s supposed to be the first EV that ordinary folk not completely wedded to Green Party principles might consider.
Yes, increasing the operating range is a key part of creating a full-electric model able to make that difficult transition, but other boxes need ticking too. The original version of this model was anything but a confident handler with copious body roll and PlayStation style levels of feedback through its lifeless steering rack, this car needed to do better, and does.
Body control is vastly improved, which is quite a decent achievement, given that this Leaf is slightly heavier than its predecessor, tipping the scales at getting on for 1.6 tonnes more than most ordinary diesel-powered rivals.
A considerable upgrade in torsional rigidity explains most of the improvement, plus as before, it helps that the extra weight of the battery pack is perfectly placed, and evenly distributed creating an optimally low center of gravity, pretty much the same as you’d find Nissan’s 370z sports coupe.
Chassis Control Package
Given that this, along with this mark two models 40% increase in motor power, and 25% increase in torque, might encourage you to drive this car attached faster than before, it’s just as well that all the models now come with the nuisance chassis control package.
We first saw this on the brand’s Qashqai SUV model, the setup which incorporates two standard electronic handling systems, intelligent trace control, and intelligent ride control.
The trace control system uses the principle of torque vectoring, applying subtle brake pressure to the front wheels of speed through the turns. This loads up the front of the car, pushing the tires more firmly into the tarmac and increasing their bite on the road.
Intelligent ride control also uses the automatic subtle brake application, the system gently applying the pad to disk, usually at the rear after you’ve hit a bump in the road to ease back body pitch and keep the car more stable.
This is the kind of technology you simply don’t expect to see on an electric vehicle, and it all works without you ever being aware of it, giving a more fluid flowing feel to the way this Leaf progresses down the road.
True, the raised driving position isn’t one that encourages you to throw the car about. But, former Leaf owners who do push on a little through the bends, and put all of this technology to the test, will quickly notice the improved cornering demeanor.
They should also appreciate the way that the intelligent ride system allows this Nissan to crews more serenely over tarmac tears, only over lower speed bumps does the suspension patter about a bit.
Highway cruising sees the car feels settled planted, and of course, impressively quiet. Because you inevitably noticed tire and wind roar, so much more with no engine noise to drown it all out, Nissan has worked hard on minimizing both, with some success.
If you’ve opted for one of the plusher Leaf trim levels, this is where you’ll have the option to try the brand’s latest Pro pilot semi-autonomous driving package, which you can activate at the press of a button.
This setup works through combining active cruise control, and a Lane Keeping Assist system that will automatically steer, accelerate, and brake the car on roads where the system’s camera can read road markings and sense the car in front.
Unlike some other makers similar systems this one doesn’t allow you to let go of the wheel, you’ll roundly be admonished by the car if you do. But despite that, there’s no doubt that probe pilot is a great highway cruising aid, plus it also works well in stop-start traffic jams. the system able to bring your Leaf to a complete stop hold it there and started again.
Pedestrian Warning Signals
This brings me to this Nissan’s most natural habitat, which is, of course, an urban one. An environment that’ll see you trundling along with even greater levels of eerie silence, actually it’s not quite silent.
while designers of conventional cars bust a gut to get noise levels down, Nissan has had to add sound to this one to counter public fears that quiet electric vehicles might as they approach surprise unwary pedestrians and the visually impaired.
Hence, the speaker fitted upfront that produces a low whine at under 15 miles an hour to warn the pavement bound of your impending arrival.
Pro Pilot Parking
I should also mention the pro pilot Park System that you can have on the top-spec variant, which at the press of a single button can locate a space for you, then autonomously part the car and apply the handbrake.
So, how to sum up? Well, Nissan’s experience in creating electric cars goes back to their little tamer model of 1947, and that kind of experience shows in a product like this one.
In a sense, it’s not too difficult to be pioneering in EV circles if you’re going to charge customers through the nose for the end product, for example, Tesla does. It’s a lot harder to produce a cutting-edge end product if you price it against affordable petrol and diesel family alternatives, but this Leaf manages just that.
The Nissan EV, if you ever doubted it, is proof that electric vehicles are now firmly targeted at mainstream buyers. The previous-generation Leaf was never really going to sell to anyone other than early-adopting eco-warriors, so it was styled to make a futuristic statement.
This car though, dispenses with the nerdy vibe, in favor of a more conventional look that still manages to appear contemporary, sophisticated, and sleek, thanks to a slippery drag coefficient of just 0.2 HCD.
Overall this is a larger, lower, and more sharply sculpted design that will broaden this model’s customer base considerably. In profile, we particularly like the flared rear haunches and the smart C-pillar which references that used on other contemporary Nissan models like the fifth-generation Mica.
The flanks that lead down to the continuously flat underbody, could perhaps use a bit more definition, but a smart chiseled crease flows above the door mirrors and on plusher models, there’s the two-tone option of a black roof finish if you want it.
As before, this is a design shape to compete in the VW golf dominated family hatchback segment, though, one that at just over four and a half meters in length, is a touch longer than the usual class favorites.
Mounting the battery beneath the floor pushes the roof height up to 1.54 meters, which is closer to the sort of thing you get in an SUV like Audi E-Tron or Chevy Bolt sized. Only the prominent zero-emission badge on the front door gives away the EV ancestry.
One thing listen hasn’t done, in a move towards design conventionality is to follow its EV competitors in putting the charging point flap on the side of the car, where the fuel filler would normally be on.
A Leaf it remains defiantly incorporated into the nose of the car, which means that if you’re at a public quick-charging station you can plug in, then if you wish to stay seated at the wheel and what the fast charger tick over.
As before there are separate normal and quick charger sockets here, and the angle you approach them at has been altered making it easier to plug in without stooping down.
Otherwise, there are all the hallmarks of current Nissan design, including signature boomerang-shaped headlamps that can feature full LED lighting, and the brand’s usual V-motion nose styling, which in this case, features blue coloring in a nod to the cars electric status.
Rear Body Design
The rear is more raked and sporty than before, with a black finish for the upper part of the tailgate, and tick shaped tail lamps that form the starting point for the car’s shoulder line. The lower section of the bumpers notable of course for the total absence of an exhaust pipe, instead of blue highlighting strip references the cars ECO status.
Finishing things offers the neat roof spoiler, though unfortunately, it doesn’t incorporate the trendy solar cells that used to feature on the spoiler of the previous generation model.
As for the stuff you can’t see, the body shell has gained 15 kilograms of weight to be better able to carry the 310-kilogram lithium-ion battery, a lot of efforts gone into making the structure more rigid too, ride down to stiffer bump stops on the boot lid.
And at the wheel, well, if you remember the original mark one Leaf model, which featured a futuristically styled split-level blue-tinted dash, impractically finished with bright white trim, well, this interior might feel a touch mundane. Most potential owners though are going to much prefer it.
At first glance you could be in any ordinary Nissen, the high set seating position certainly brings to mind the kind of feel you get in an SUV. That’s until you start to inspect the more unique details, the stubby little blue-tinged Auto gear lever from the original model, that has, rather unnecessarily, being carried over.
And an instrument binnacle display that curiously mixes an analog speedo, with an accompanying customizable color TFT display. This area can be tailored to exactly what you want to see, with selectable power meter, audio compass energy readout, and safety system screens.
Less contemporary is the Nissen connect center dash infotainment system that’s standard, provided you avoid entry-level trim. It’s supposed to be a development of the set up used elsewhere in the company’s range, but they provided seven-inch monitor feels, low res and gated, compared to the displays provided by direct Volkswagen and BMW rivals.
Still, at least you get the physical shortcut buttons and proper rotary dials that some rival set up some wisely dispense with. Everything you need is here, with apple car play, and android auto smartphone mirroring alongside the usual DAB stereo, and Bluetooth functions.
Nissan Connect Smart App
Plus there’s a navigation setup that knows where every public charging point is, and is always ready to direct you to one. You can also access Nissan connect to remotely via a smartphone app, planning a trip, or setting a timer to cool down or warm up the car before a journey so that you don’t have to use valuable battery power.
Nissan designers don’t seem to hold with the current fashion for dashboard decluttering, I’ve counted over fifty buttons, still, that’s better than having lots and lots of complicated infotainment screen submenu functions.
For us more of an issue lies with the fact that Nissen still hasn’t made the 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel adjustable for reach, as before, it goes up and down which can make getting comfortable a bit of a challenge.
Disappointingly there’s no front seat lumbar support either, otherwise, there’s not much to grass about.
Build quality seems pretty faultless, and the so-called gliding wing design of the dash is quite appealing. Enlivened by vibrant blue stitching that also features on the steering wheel, and the now more comfortable seats.
True, you don’t get the classy chrome finishing, and soft-touch plastics that you’ll find on rival BMW i3 models, but this Nissan’s lower price point might mean you can stretch to a top-spec TechNet variant like the one we tested where full leather upholstery also extends onto the fascia concealing the hard plastics beneath.
That high set driving position means you forward and the side view is great, but the same can’t be said for rear 3/4 vision, compromised a little by those stylized C-pillars. Fortunately, a rearview camera comes a standard, providing that you avoid entry-level trim.
As for cabin practicality, well, the glovebox is big, but the door bins are small. There’s nowhere for your sunglasses, and between the seats lie a couple of cupholders and a deep lidded box. There’s also a small cubby in front of the gear lever that would be useful for a phone, given that USB 12-volt and aux-in sockets lie just above.
The bottom line is no other EV on the market can offer you more rear-seat space, the bench back can comfortably accommodate a couple of adults and three kids will probably be fine too. Taking three large people is made difficult by the prominent hight to this center transmission tunnel. There’s also the slight issue of the high floor height caused because of the need to locate the vast battery pack underneath this seat.
Because of that, when you sit in the back you’re knees are positioned slightly higher up than they would normally be, some folk might find this a touch uncomfortable on lengthier trips. Though to be honest, unless you draw your passenger’s attention to this issue, they’ll probably never notice it.
Headroom in the back is tighter than it would be in an E-Golf, but that’ll only really be an issue for people over six-foot. You’d expect a fully connected car like this would have offered rear-seat documents either a 12-volt or a USB socket to connect up with, here in the back, but no.
Storage space is at a bit of a premium, the door bins are pretty small and there’s no fold-out center armrest to provide a couple of useful cupholders. You do get seatback pockets though.
The most important practical news with this revised Leaf lies further back. It wasn’t long ago that electric vehicles suffered terribly when it came to the issue of luggage capacity, but that was when battery packs were located beneath the boot floor.
I’ve already mentioned that in this Leaf the lithium-ion cells sit further forward, so there’s no reason why this Nissan’s longer than average family hatchback sector length, can’t translate into segment-leading cargo space.
Lift the tailgate and you find yourself faced with a 436-liter cargo bay, around 100 liters more than the previous generation model could offer. For comparison, the boot of a Volkswagen Golf measures in at 380 liters, an E-Golf is rated at 341 liters and the rival BMW i3 only manages a rather embarrassing, 260 liters.
Unfortunately, there’s quite a high loading lip to negotiate before you can get at all that room. And if you go for a top techno model, you’ll lose 15 liters of that capacity, thanks to the need to house the subwoofer of the punchy Bose stereo.
A couple of nets are provided on either side of the trunk area to tidy all the charging cables away, unfortunately, you have to pay extra for the convenience of a spare wheel.
Spacially things won’t be quite as rosy if the need arises to push the rear backrest forward and free up greater reserves of cargo capacity. The rear bench is 60/40 split-folding but, the cargo area it frees up isn’t quite flat, and the folded seats create quite a step in the floor that’ll get in the way when you try and push things back.
It’s also worth mentioning that the higher floor level I referenced earlier, drops this Nissan behind its conventional rivals when it comes to ultimate space available. Still the 1176 liters of total fresh air, that’s provided with the seats folded down should be sufficient for most.
What Trim Levels Are Available?
If having considered all of this you decide that it is the base Leaf that you want, then you’re going to need to want to know exactly what’s included in the standard spec.
Leaf Visia Version Spec
With the previous generation Leaf, a private buyer would probably never have bought the entry-level vis-version, because it lacked key elements of technology. Things like a regenerative brake mode, remote charging functionality, and a quick charge port.
All that’s now included with Visia spec variants of this second-generation Leaf, as well as a six-point six-kilowatt-hour onboard charger, and that clever E-pedal driving system.
Along with a number of the niceties you’d want in a car of this price, things like cruise control with a speed limiter, a decent infotainment system operable virus 7-inch Center – screen, automatic air-conditioning you can set to cool or warm the cabin in advance, and a full suite of electronic camera-driven safety equipment.
All the charging stuff you’ll need is standard too, so you’ll get a seven-kilowatt wall box for your garage as part of the deal – which you can attach the provided mode three types to charging cable.
If when you’re out and about you’ve only got access to a slow power source with a household socket, there’s an EV charging cable for that. And if you’re fortunate enough to come upon one of the fast charging points springing up around the country there’s a 50-kilowatt Chadamo quick charger socket for super quick battery replenishment.
Leaf Acenta Version Spec
All of that comes with Visia spec, Nissan reckons so that 99% of Leaf customers are going to want to stretch a little further up the range. The next level up, the Acenta, is the one you’ll need to get somewhere close to the kind of equipment hall that you could expect with the direct segment rivals I mentioned earlier.
The Acenta trimmed Leaf gives you 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a rear-view camera, a faster heater, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Plus you get the upgraded Nissan Connect EV 7 infotainment system that includes an upgraded 6 speaker version of the DAB audio system.
You also get apple car play, android auto smartphone mirroring technology, and a navigation system able to guide you to the nearest public charge point.
Leaf N-Connect Version
If you want to go further, paying more for N-Connector spec will see you treated to 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, power-folding mirrors, part-leather upholstery and, an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Plus there are all-around parking sensors that work with an intelligent around-view monitor, that gives you Nissan’s moving object detection system that will highlight kids, people or pets that may be in your path as you maneuver.
As an option at this level, you can also pay extra for the pro pilot semi-autonomous driving package, this is a combination of the active cruise control and Lane Keeping Assist systems that you may be familiar with from more conventional cars.
At the press of a button, this setup will automatically steer, accelerate, and brake the car on roads where the system’s camera can read road markings and sense the car in front.
Pro pilot comes as standard on the ritziest Leaf model the Techno variant that we tested. Other niceties on this flagship variant include full leather upholstery, a 7 speaker Bose premium audio system, full LED headlamps with auto-leveling, a heat pack that warms the front seats and the steering wheel, and an electronic parking brake.
You have to have Tekna trim if you’re going to get the option of paying extra for another of the desirable features developed for this mark 2 model Leaf. The pro pilot park system, a hands-off, feet off automatic parking function.
You activated it at low speeds and the system will find you an appropriate space and ask if you want to park the car there. If you do, the pro pilot park will take care of everything else by automatically moving your Leaf frontwards or backward into the parking space, parking perfectly, and applying the parking brake when the maneuver is complete.
Available Options Across The Range
Having mentioned options let’s talk about extras available across the range. It’s a pity the brand no longer offers the option of a rear roof spoiler incorporating space-age solar cells that boost battery power, but there is now a wider range of options you can have.
We’ll start with the basics all the varients will have to pay extra for. A temporary spare wheel, and lower down the lineup you’ll probably want to take up the option of paying extra for parking sensors. On an Acenta variant, you can add in the heat for the front seats, and steering wheel, and on an end-connector model, you can add in the full LED headlights.
Across the range, unless you want your Leaf finished in a bulk standard solid red, you’ll need to be paying this and more for one of the other paint finishes available, either solid arctic white or one of the various extra cost of metallic, premium metallic, or pearlescent shades.
If you’re buying an end connector or the E-Tekna trimmed Leaf, and you’re happy to have your car painted in premium metallic storm white, you’ll be offered the option of a two-tone finish that’ll see the roof and the mirrors have done in pearl black.
As we all know technology in this regard has progressed a great deal since the original Leaf model was first launched, and this Nissen has needed to move with the times. The most important standard safety system fitted across the range is the brand’s intelligent emergency braking setup that works via a camera that scans the road ahead in search of potential accident hazards as you drive.
With a sensitivity that’s especially good at picking out people, thanks to an incorporated pedestrian recognition feature. If a potential problem is detected you’ll be warned, if you don’t respond or aren’t able to, the brakes will automatically be applied to decrease the severity of any resulting accident.
Lane Departure Warning System
Also now standard on all the variants is a lane departure warning system, which gently vibrates through the steering wheel rather than beeping annoyingly as this kind of setup does on some other cars.
Plus there’s an intelligent Lane intervention feature that will gently steer you back into your lane if you’ve unintentionally deviated from it. Cross-traffic alert warns you of oncoming vehicles if you’re reversing out of a parking space, traffic sign recognition picture speed signs as you pass and displays them on the dash. The blind-spot warning works on the move to alert you if you’re about to pull out into the path of another motorist.
Also, there’s intelligent trace control, which adds like braking to the front wheels during tight cornering, loading at the front of the car and planting the tires more firmly on the tarmac for extra traction.
More conventional standard safety features include ESP stability control, six airbags, and ISOFIX child seat fastenings. Plus, there are the usual tractional and braking aids. Including brake assist to help an emergency stop and Hill Start Assist to stop you from drifting backward on uphill starts.
You’ll want big-time savings if you’re thinking of a full EV model. Does this second-generation Leaf deliver them? It certainly ought to, given that it can now go much further on a single charge, we’ll start with that.
As mentioned elsewhere in this article the officially quoted driving range is 168 miles, calculated under the new WLTP combined cycle test, or worldwide harmonized light vehicle testing procedure. Which is supposed to produce more realistic real-world consumption results for cars like this.
The WLTP urban cycle test reckoned that this Nissan would cover up to 258 miles if it were operating only in city driving conditions. You’ll be able to improve both these figures if instead of the standard 40-kilowatt-hour model that we’ve been testing,.
If you go for the uprated 60-kilowatt-hour derivative you can talk to your dealer about. But that’s a lot more money, so for our purposes, we’ll assume the 40-kilowatt hour version is going to be your preferred choice.
If some of your friends dismiss these figures as being a little below par, they’re not being realistic. Yes, there are indeed Tesla EV models that will go a lot further on a single charge, but one of those could easily cost you 3 or 4 times what you’ll be paying for the Leaf.
If instead, you content yourself to comparing more relevantly with directly equivalent rivals, then this Nissan showing, those still not ideally what we’d like stacks up very well indeed.
For reference, the Leafs US EPA figure is 226 miles, which compares to any DC showings of 186 miles four volts we’re going to eat golf and just 124 miles for the electric-only version of BMW i3.
So it’s a strong showing and a useful improvement over what the first-generation Leaf model could deliver. For reference, final versions of that old car which used a lower capacity 24-kilowatt-hour battery, quoted at 129 Mile any DC range figure.
The last time we tested a mark one model Leaf, we found that what we got was about 80 properly usable miles between its charge. In comparison throughout this test we’ve been getting about 120 usable miles of use if we’re driven with more of a feathery foot on the throttle or restricted our test route to more exclusively urban roads, we would have done better.
Nissan says that some owners regularly get close to 150 miles between charges, and we can believe that. By the way, to even get early through figure driving range, you’re going to need to make copious use of the various driving aids Nissan provides.
An ECO mode restricts throttle travel, and two ways of harvesting regenerative energy will slow down the battery’s rate of power drain. As with the previous Leaf, the most obvious way of doing this is by selecting the provided B ratio on the gearbox, which gleans regeneration energy from the powertrain.
With this mark 2 model, there’s the extra option of using the standard pedal system, which also gains regenerative energy from the friction brakes. Plus of course, there are lots of energy readout screens for you to keep an eye, on the one you’ll tend to use most is the power meter driving gauge that features to the left of the speedometer in the instrument binnacle.
The idea here is to keep the needle in the Eco band as often as possible, in a bid to keep up the percentage figure in the battery graphic. Also selectable on this same screen is an energy economy readout, that rates your frugality in miles per kWh. The same picker will also display in the Eco-Drive report, which displays at the end of each trip.
Switch your attention to the center dash Nissan connect EV 7 monitor, and you’ll find two more tools in the setups useful zero-emissions menu. An energy usage screen that shows the kilowatt usage of the vehicle motor, the air conditioning, and various ancillaries, and a driving range screen uses colored radius graphics on a country map, to show the extent that the journey you can undertake with the battery range the car has remaining.
Enough on the driving range and the things you can do to improve it. What about charging? The Nissan connect EV7 infotainment system that all the variants above Vizia spec get, will show you where your nearest charging points are, but unfortunately, it doesn’t show you what type of charging the pointing question provides.
Three-pin domestic style, seven kilowatt-hours, or 50 kilowatt-hours. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites that will give you this information. zap-map.com is the most popular but there are others.
Cell Phone App
A downloadable smartphone app offers another way of finding your nearest charging point, plus this app will allow you to monitor your car’s state of charge, let’s set charge times and pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin to the ideal temperature before setting off so that you won’t have to drain the battery once you get underway with excessive use of the climate control system.
Of course the most important charging you’ll be doing will be overnight at home. When it comes to this we’ve always wondered why EV makers insist on charging extra for the wall box that you have to have as a conditional part of electric vehicle ownership.
After all, you’d never charge a car of this sort from an ordinary household plug unless you were out and about and had to. This Leaf, for example, takes a yawning 21 hours to charge for an ordinary household electricity socket, so you’ll need the seven-kilowatt 32AMP wall box.
Once the right wall box is in place, your Leaf will be able to replenish itself in seven and a half hours or to put it another way it’ll easily sort itself out completely overnight. If you’re in a real hurry to replenish the battery in your Leaf and can find one of the few public fast charging points that can deliver a 50 kilowatt of high-voltage direct-current, then so much the better.
If you use one of the many apps available it will show you where these rapid charging stations are, and if you find one you’ll be able to use the 50-kilowatt Chadamo quick charger supplied with the car that can be accessed via a separate quick charge port, alongside the standard charging port.
This will give the battery of this Nissen an 80% top-up in between 40 and 60 minutes. If, and when these rapid charging points are added in at freeway service stations across our land, there’ll be a rush for electric vehicles like this one.
For home charging, you’ll want to use that downloadable app I mentioned earlier, which allows you to set the car to charge at off-peak rates. If you’re wise in this regard Nissan reckons the daily charging process will add no more than about $30 to your monthly electricity bill.
Which most will happily pay to offset the average monthly $180 outlay, that would otherwise have spent fueling equivalent petrol or diesel motor.
To be specific on fuel savings, reckon on it costing you about 3 cents per mile to run a Leaf, in comparison to about 13 cents per mile in a modern diesel rival. Before you ask, yes, that does take into account the increased electricity charges you would incur in this Nissan.
Or at least, in theory, you’d incur extra home electricity charges in using a Leaf, but it doesn’t have to be like that. The recent introduction of the vehicle to the grid or V2Gg technology opens up the possibility of two-way charging, allowing electric vehicles to be fully integrated into your home electricity network.
So how could that work for you? Well, Nissan has created a so-called ex-storage unit that you can get installed in your house. This can draw power from both the national grid and if you have them, from solar panels on the roof of your home to recharge your Leaf. But it could also take power back from this Nissan if you haven’t used it all on your daily commute.
Let’s say for example that the car has started the day fully charged, but you’ve only needed to do twenty to thirty miles and so I’ve ended the day with an almost fully charged battery.
If you were then to connect the car up to an extra unit that remaining energy could be powering all your home electricity needs for the whole of that evening, and any remaining energy could then be funneled back in the National Grid earning you charge rebates.
On that basis, it’s easy to see how you could run a car like this without incurring any electricity charges at all. The possibilities are all quite exciting if you choose to fully explore them.
Even if you can’t be bothered with all of that, you’ll soon learn to sort out your Leaf charging regime with plugging in at night, or topping up the battery at a public point when you go shopping becoming second nature.
Should the very worst happen though and you forget to connect up head off in a rush and find yourself stranded out of range on the highway halfway to where you’re going, Nissan will provide free pan-European recovery service to sort you out, and tow you home or to the nearest charging point.
In Europe, that’s valid for a lifetime of ownership, provided that you’ve had the car regularly maintained at one of their dealers. A Leaf stranded by the roadside isn’t after all very good advertising for the brand, but it’s unlikely to ever come to that. To ensure that it doesn’t your dealer will give you what the company calls its care EV Leaf customer commitment promise.
A scheme offering a series of peace of mind pledges. To start with you’ll be offered a proper 24-hour test drive, to enable you to properly get to know your car before you sign on the dotted line for it.
And, as an owner, you’ll always be able to rapidly charge your Leaf with that Chademo quick charger for free, at any Nissan dealership equipped with a rapid charging unit.
There’s also a battery quality guarantee covering capacity battery loss, that’s below 9 bars out of 12 within the first eight years or 100,000 miles.
Finally, as a rather nice finishing touch, Nissan promises in the first three years of ownership to give you up to 14 days of free car hire of one of its petrol or diesel models, should you find yourself needing to take a long trip.
As for your warranty well it’s the usual Nissen three year 60,000-mile package for standard components, plus there’s that supplementary coverage plan for the battery that I just mentioned.
Residual values will vary depending on the future market take-up of EV’s. At the moment any electric vehicle will shed its value faster than conventional petrol or diesel model, but that state of affairs could change very quickly as prevailing public opinion is shaped by the media.
Independent experts reckon that a high spec Tekna grade Leaf variant will hold its value for actually better than lower-spec variants. The prediction is that after three years and/or 60,000 miles a Leaf Tekna would still be worth 31.2% of its original asking price.
You can tell your green bearded friends that nearly a hundred percent of the vehicle weight is recyclable, yes including the battery pack. And that the bio fabric used to trim the seats is a hundred percent derived from sugarcane, but this whole issue of eco-friendliness is, of course, a lot more complicated than that.
It’s being calculated that the burden of filling your batteries in this car will result in a theoretical forty to fifty grams per kilometer of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, based on typical use of the energy grid.
This means that a Leaf driver will still be having nearly half the environmental impact of a small petrol-electric family hatch.
As the concept of all-electric motoring becomes more normal, so the cars that champion it should also increasingly be seen in that way. The first generation version of this Nissen couldn’t be, it’s a restricted operating range made it a model that few ordinary buyers could countenance.
Those who could justify one had to be people prepared for something futuristic, sophisticated and quirky, as a result, the original Leaf found itself aiming in a very narrow niche indeed.
Nissan’s EV remit has been broadened quite a bit with the second generation version of this design, any longer journeys now require nervous range calculation, the looks won’t leave the neighbors assuming you’ve joined the Green Party.
Charging snow more straightforward and the interior no longer makes you feel like you’re in some kind of concept car.
You’ll quickly adapt to the smooth driving demeanor made possible by the clever E-pedal, and the extra connectivity, the semi-autonomous driving aids, and the stronger standards of safety are all welcomed.
As before, most likely buyers will probably be considering this as a second, or maybe even a third vehicle for short-run use. I’ll wager though that once they get one in the driveway they’ll be using it for 80% of the time.
But, of course, there’s still plenty of scope for improvement. The Leaf is a better value than its direct rivals, but in terms of cabin quality, it still lags a little behind some of them.
There are a few little issues, like the lack of full steering wheel adjustment, for example, that really should have been sorted by now. More importantly, the genuine 200-mile operating range we were hoping for before the launch of this model, can only be approached if you pay a lot more for a version of this car with the gutsier 60-kilowatt-hour battery.
These things apart were hugely impressed with the way that this Nissan has been evolved, from the rather individualistic confection it used to be. Of course, like any electric vehicle, it can’t appeal to everyone.
Family hatch buyers without a garage will join single car families and long-distance commuters in dismissing it out of hand.
But there are no car is for everyone, as the Japanese brand points out. You wouldn’t buy a GTR supercar for family use, or an SUV as a city run around. Where Nissan has succeeded though, is in finally offering us a relatively affordable family size to a pure electric car, that’s pretty free of compromise.
The model you could pretty painlessly switch into from something more conventional, which leaves us with what another defining moment in electric vehicle history, it certainly feels like it.
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