Nissan's best-selling electric car is updated for 2018
Pros: Extended range, spacious cabin, refined drive
Cons: Fiddly infotainment, charge time, steering wheel adjustment
The Nissan LEAF is Ireland’s best-selling electric car and indeed the most successful electric car of all time. The LEAF first arrived on the scene in 2010, and since then over 320,000 have sold around the world. This is the highly-anticipated second-generation LEAF, and it has recently arrived in Ireland for the first time. The updated LEAF boasts a series of improvements over its popular predecessor, including faster charging, an extended range and sharper styling, but can it continue to lead proceedings in the electric car class ahead of the Hyundai iONIQ, Renault ZOE and Volkswagen e-Golf? We spent a week with the LEAF on Irish roads recently to see how it has changed for 2018.
What is it like?
The new LEAF is much improved in the looks department, and it’s likely to win lots of new fans as a result. The new LEAF is less awkward than its predeccesor, thanks to a sharp new front end, a floating roof design and sharpened front and rear lights. As standard, it is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels and LED rear lights, however our range-topping SVE test car has large 17-inch alloy wheels and LED Headlights for a striking finish. There are nine different colours to choose from, but the two-tone black and white scheme of our test car is the standout option. Zero Emissions badges and blue detailing hint at its electric roots. While the LEAF’s styling remains divisive, it is much more conservative than the LEAF of old.
The LEAF is similar to most five-door hatchbacks inside, with enough room for four adults and 435 litres of boot space too. The small gear selector and electric range displays on the infotainment show it isn’t a conventional hatchback however. It’s easy to get comfortable from the driver’s seat and the seats are supportive with a tall view of the road, however the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach. Head and leg room in the rear seats is good and there are two ISOFIX points. Fit and finish throughout the cabin is good, although there are some low rent plastics in places. Nissan’s Connect EV system and touch screen display is included on higher specification models, and it integrates Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a smart navigation system which helps to plan journeys and demonstrates locations to charge along the way too.
The LEAF has an electric motor which is powered by a 40kWh battery, and it produces the equivalent of 150bhp with smooth and continuous power delivery. It accelerates briskly from 0-100km/h in under eight seconds and it can go on to an eventual top speed of 143km/h. The LEAF offers impressive performance around town and it delivers enough oomph during overtaking too. Of course, the way you drive the LEAF will largely dictate battery life and expected battery range, and so it pays to drive consciously with the Eco driving mode enabled. Nissan claims the LEAF can charge to 80% capacity in 40 minutes via a 50kW fast charger, or from zero percent to 100% in seven and a half hours with a 7kW home charger.
The LEAF offers up to 270 kilometres of range when it is fully charged, but this varies depending on various factors. We drove over 220 kilometres on a stretch from Dublin to Galway, a journey which simply wouldn’t have been possible in the first-generation model. The LEAF’s running costs are low when it is driven reservedly and annual motor tax is in the lowest bracket at €120. The updated LEAF also boasts a new ‘e-Pedal’ system, which applies strong regenerative braking force once you lift your foot off the accelerator. This means you can drive with one pedal for long stretches and it recharges the battery around town, although the e-Pedal system does take getting used to. The LEAF is lower than before and this helps in turns, where it corners with poise, however it is far from a driver’s car however, and the steering is somewhat devoid of feel.
In Ireland, prices for the new Nissan LEAF start from €26,290 for the base specification XE model, including Ireland’s Government grant for a private car buyer of €5,000. The base XE model is equipped with LED rear lights, intelligent lane intervention and departure warning, intelligent emergency braking and the e-Pedal system. SV specification (from €29,940) adds 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, a leather steering wheel, a heat pump system, Intelligent Cruise Control and Nissan’s connect system. The SV Premium gains 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black detailing, front and rear parking sensors, additional driving aids such as moving object detection and an Intelligent Around View Monitor. The SVE model is lavishly-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, a seven speaker BOSE sound system, Intelligent LED headlights and Nissan’s ProPILOT system, however it is the most expensive option at €32,600.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The new second-generation Nissan LEAF could be the car that converts petrol and diesel advocates to electric power. With its extended 270-kilometre range, improved styling and smooth drive, it is a much-improved package for daily driving and commuting. The e-Pedal system is a welcome addition, and the LEAF returns low running costs when driven with a concious mindset. It isn’t best-suited to regular long journeys however as the range is still somewhat limited, and the styling won’t be to everyone’s taste. That said, the new LEAF is more versatile and likable than its predecessor, and it is likely to top the electric vehicle sales charts in Ireland for a long time to come.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Nissan LEAF SVE 40KW
Prices from: €26,290 (Including Government Grant)
Price as tested: €32,600 (Including Government Grant)
Annual Road Tax: €120
Top Speed: 143km/h
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 435 litres