First Drive

First Drive: Nissan Leaf

The story:
Nissan is the first manufacturer to get as far as a second-generation electric vehicle, with the new Leaf offering greater range and more technology.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:VW e-Golf
Nissan Leaf Tekna
Price:£31,935 (before Govt. Grant)
MPG:168 miles range
On sale:Now

Nissan has previously referred to the new Leaf as a game-changer, which piles the pressure nicely on to a car that is the first full electric model to get to generation two.

The first Leaf has dominated the electric vehicle sales charts, taking getting on for half of full electric car registrations for most of last year before stocks of the car ran low.

Indeed, the lull between the old model ending and the new one getting up to speed has caused such a dent in overall EV registrations that those not understanding the reasons have been mistakenly questioning whether there’s still enough consumer demand for EVs.Nissan Leaf - 2018 - Image 5The new car has been designed to look more mainstream, offer the latest technology and bring a battery range that will better fit electric cars into more customers’ lives.

That range has increased by 80 miles from 155 to 235 under the old NEDC testing regime, although that drops to an official 168 miles on the new WLTP testing cycle. This equates to 242 miles in the city because, unlike petrol engines, electric cars are at their most efficient in start-stop traffic where the battery can recoup energy under deceleration and braking.

That is amplified in the new Leaf by the standard-fit e-pedal development that is basically an enhanced regenerative braking system. It’s so efficient that Nissan claims 90% of city driving can be conducted without the driver touching the brake.

It works well, and with a shaping of driving style to more relaxed and anticipatory approach, makes for a pleasant drive. The bad news is there’s no creep function in e-pedal mode, so you’re best to use a mixture of the regular driving mode with the brake function engaged to offer more regenerative braking.Nissan Leaf - 2018 - Image 2Another reason to expect a step forward in fleet for the new Leaf, apart from the awareness and acceptance of EVs being on the rise, is that the costs case is becoming more favourable. Residuals, claims Nissan are now at least comparable with lower-medium diesels’, while the service costs were already lower thanks to the reduced number of moving parts. Intervals have also been extended to 18,000 miles, and Nissan is working on fixed-price servicing, plus insurance groups and parts pricing, to make for a proposition that makes financial sense throughout the life of the car.

The new Leaf looks smarter and more mainstream, has a better range, more kit and is decent to drive. The future is ever more so becoming the present.

paul barker

The verdict

Updated successfully in every way, the new Leaf will take electric vehicle acceptance to new levels.