First Drive

First Drive: Nissan Leaf E+

The story:
Nissan has added a new higher performance and longer-range version at the top of its electric Leaf line-up.
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:Volkswagen e-Golf
Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna
Price:£39,940
MPG:Range-239 miles
Emissions:0g/km
On sale:Now

Nissan’s Leaf launched at the beginning of last year with a 168-mile official range figure that has quickly been surpassed by some rivals, with several EVs now comfortably beyond the 200-mile mark.

But the brand has an answer, with the arrival of the Leaf e+, which has a 62kWh battery instead of the regular car’s 40kWh offering. The official range rises by an impressive 71 miles to 239, which is plenty for most journeys, and performance also gets a significant boost. The e+ boasts 217hp, compared with the regular 150hp, taking 1.0sec off the 0-62mph time, putting it under seven seconds.

First Drive-July 2019-Nissan Leaf E+-Image 7But the performance and range improvement doesn’t come cheap, especially given that the e+ is only available in the highest Tekna trim level. There is a £4900 price difference between the two battery offerings, putting the e+’s P11D price at £39,340. There is though the Government’s £3500 electric vehicle grant to be taken off the purchase price, if not the taxable value. Equipment levels are good, but so they should be at nearly £40,000.

Apart from the battery, which takes up no more space thanks to some clever advances in tech, the only change between the Tekna model and the e+ is a revised suspension set-up designed to make the car feel more sporty. It doesn’t have a big impact on the driving dynamics, though.

First Drive-July 2019-Nissan Leaf E+-Image 2The performance is more noticeably improved, with the Leaf’s extra power perceptible, although the lower-powered model never felt particularly sluggish, thanks mainly to the instant response given by any electric powertrain.

Apart from that, only a metallic blue finish to the front bumper and e+ logo on the charge point mark out the more powerful version.

The same Leaf foibles also remain, such as a steering column that for some crazy reason still doesn’t have reach adjustment, while the seat cushion feels a little short and not quite supportive enough under your thighs.

The biggest bonus of the Leaf e+ is that range, which has been extended by almost 50%, and which makes the e+ a significantly more practical and useable car than the regular model. The performance boost is nice, too, but it certainly doesn’t turn the Leaf into a hot hatch.

 

Paul Barker

The verdict

A good range-topper offering welcome increase in range as well as a decent performance lift, but it comes at a pretty hefty price.