Nissan Leaf Look and Living
The new Nissan Leaf is quite a departure from the previous model which was much smaller. First impression is that it looks a similar size and shape to a Toyota Previa. The model I tested had the option of chrome door handles and mirrors which made it look a bit ‘blingy’ in my opinion. There are also chrome ‘zero emission’ badges on the doors, which I think are a bit excessive. My test car has the 5 spoke alloys which were attractive and overall the appearance of the car is quite sporty for a family hatchback.
Interior of the Nissan Leaf
Inside the car has 5 seats and is comfortable, the rear bench being able to accommodate 3 people, 2 adults and a child in comfort. This model has leather upholstery and heated front and rear seats.
The instruments are clear with a touchscreen in the centre console, disappointingly small for a car of this nature. Beneath the screen are the air-con controls and beneath that the heated seat controls, a singular (disappointing) USB port and a 12v socket. The centre console looks very traditional compared to other 100% electric cars.
The steering wheel is a leather ‘D’ shape with controls for phone, audio and cruise control. The cruise control being adaptive so that it can be set on a motorway to keep a certain distance behind the car in front.
The digital display behind the steering wheel is clear and easy to read, displaying power usage, range remaining, drive status and speedometer.
Overall the interior is pleasant, the plastics could be of better quality as they feel a bit flimsy. The doors are quite light so there is no pleasant ‘thud’ when closing. Mainly due to keeping the weight down which is important in electric cars to maximise range. With its 5 start NCAP rating, any weight savings is not at the cost of safety.
The boot space is disappointing for a car of this size, this model includes the Bose sound system which has a large amplifier at the back of the boot, further reducing the load space. Inside storage is good with door pockets, cup holders between the seats and a decent size glove box.
6.5 out of 10
The Nissan Leaf has some clever driving technology, with cameras at the front, rear and sides the car has lots of driver assist technology;
- ProPilot, keeps car at a set distance from car in front and in lane on motorways.
- ProPilot Park, will park car in a space at the push of a button.
- Intelligent lane intervention, applies brakes to guide you back in lane if it detects you are straying unintentionally.
- Blind Spot warning, lets you know if there is a car in your blind spot.
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert, watches traffic around the rear and will want you if car approaching from either side.
Even without the pro-park option the car has 360-degree camera visibility to aid you when parking.
The Nissan Leaf comes with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto for seamless connectivity with your phone for
entertainment, sat-nav and Bluetooth for calls. A DAB is also fitted standard, a single USB port is a bit mean on a new model, as we know passengers like to charge their phones as well as the driver, and a 12v socket is now passé.
As you would expect with an all-electric vehicle the sat-nav has all the surrounding charge points on it should you need a top up. Disappointingly though the charging network is not integrated into the sat-nav so when route planning it does not automatically suggest charging stops as part of the route. I think this is a big miss by Nissan on a new model such as this.
7 out of 10
Performance and Drive
The Nissan Leaf can be driven like any other automatic car, put the car into Drive and set off. Typical of electric vehicles there are no gears, just smooth instant power. The car has an electric motor under the bonnet which drives the front wheels only. The car is quick off the mark and responsive and easy to drive.
Nissan is heavily marketing the ability to the Leaf tone driven with just one pedal. Switching to B mode allows you to drive only with the accelerator only, it does this by automatically braking when you pull your foot off the accelerator. This retardation also charges the battery at the same time, lengthening the range of the car as you drive.
The Leaf also features anti-impact emergency braking, should a car or pedestrian come out in front of you unexpectedly then the car will emergency brake to avoid a collision. This gives the driver extra confidence when driving in B mode. I have to say that once I was used to the retardation I really enjoyed driving in this mode, at first the level of braking can feel a bit heavy as there is no free-wheeling when you ease off the accelerator but you soon get used to it. It may not be for everyone though which is why having the traditional option as well is a great idea.
Parking is easy with the all round cameras and sensors and with cameras at the side you can see your wheels and avoid kerbing them. The car also has automated parking at the touch of a button, parking into supermarket car park spaces and parallel parking are a breeze with this technology. The other driver aids are also great, making motorway driving easier and more relaxing.
8 out of 10
Range, charging and greenness
The Nissan Leaf shares the same battery pack as the Renault Zoe, producing 40kw. It is an advance from the previous Leaf in that it holds more charge, hence it charges better and is the same size. Range is quoted at 168 which is quite average for new technology and comparing it to the smaller, lighter Zoe. I suspect that this is the maximum range and day to day usage will be significantly less. Furthermore driving using the B mode will extend the driving range. The Leaf also has an economy mode you can use which will boost range by 10%. Strangely Nissan say the range will be extended by driving on A roads rather than motorways, presumably due to the charging through braking in B mode.
Charging is done through the ports at the front of the car in a neat little hatch above the bumper. Charging at home will take around 7.5 hours on a home 7kw charger. Fast charging at public fast chargers can give an 80% charge in 40 minutes. The battery pack has a 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.
Specification and Extras
The Tekna version of the Leaf I drove is the top of the range model and is well equipped as you would expect. Sat-nav, leather heated seats and steering wheel, Bose sound system landfill LED lights.
Options include ProPilot parking (£400) and temporary spare wheel, metallic paint (from £545).
Prices start at £27,345 for the base model Acenta to £30,660 for the Tekna model. These prices include the government grant.
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Specification: Nissan Leaf Tekna Review