Last Word First
Nissan’s second-generation LEAF takes any negative (!) thought provoking from the previous model and renders it a totally logical, practical and environmentally enjoyable act to go full electric. Built in Sunderland, the LEAF is the world’s biggest selling EV.
Named to outline its purpose rather than linking it to the fluttering green extremities on our trees, the acronym actually means Leading Environmentally friendly Affordable Family vehicle – so now you know – the LEAF came to European streets in 2011. With its power output of 107bhp and a range of 160kms, it brought silence to the streets and the term ‘range anxiety’ to our motoring vocabulary.
Now with a more powerful 40kW electric motor, the latest LEAF is a very serious proposition to many living within a large urban environment, with the cross country safari a very do-able adventure with a bit of planning. Nissan’s journey down the electric route is well advanced, compared to others, this latest version of LEAF very user-friendly and on-road competent.
EV’s demand we alter our driving to suit their dynamic and to optimize the range. This latest LEAF comes with an e-pedal, which effectively uses the throttle pedal in both directions, particularly when you lay off it. This will result in the LEAF reducing its road speed without the need for you to swivel over onto the brake pedal, as the retardation reduces your road speed quite dramatically. Loved it.
Format: 5-door hatchback, 5-seats
Power Source: 110kW electric motor
Power: 150bhp (2011 LEAF 107bhp)
Transmission: Automatic – Single reduction gear
Drive: Front-wheel drive
CO2 Emissions: Zero, as in Nada, None – check for no exhaust pipe!!
Road Tax Band: A0
Annual Road Tax: €120
Range: 270kms (2011 LEAF 160Km)
Boot space: 435 litres, (330 litres on previous), expanding to 1,176 with rear seats
Length: 4,490mm (2011 LEAF 4445mm)
Width: 1,788mm (2011 LEAF 1770mm)
Height: 1,530mm (2011 LEAF 1550mm)
Introductory Price: €26,290
Test Car Price: €32,600
(Prices include €5,000 government grant, but do not include delivery and other charges)
Some of the Competition
VW e-Golf, BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq, Renault Zoe,
Charged via a household three-pin through a flap in its grill, the LEAF takes 21 hours from empty to 100%; those with a domestic 7kW wall charger can achieve this in 7.5 hours; while plugging in at a 50kW fast charger gets the LEAF up to 80% in forty minutes.
Looking more like its conventional sibling, the Pulsar, the 2018 LEAF is a substantial offering from Nissan. It’s now trying less to be different, and yet it is. I like its shape, the front end with its LED headlights, is modern and good looking, while the black B and C-pillars give that floating roof effect. The rear end is not too shabby with the roof spoiler, rear diffuser and nice treatment of the light clusters giving the 2018 LEAF a distinctive look.
The LEAF’s interior can best be described as clean. There are no visual or physical obstructions, with a controller for a gear lever and an electronic handbrake removing the normal protrusions we expect for same.
The driver looks onto a digital and analogue console, with a centre console touchscreen giving access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, plus the LEAF’s entertainment, climate and information pages.
You sit quite tall in the LEAF, the square-bottomed steering wheel great to the touch, albeit does not adjust for reach, only for rake. Time is needed to familiarise with all that’s on offer, with fit and finish very good, with a quality feel to all provided. Heated leather seats and the indulgence of a heated steering wheel, ensure bodily warmth on those chilly days.
On the Road
For those who have never driven automatics, the initial introduction to the LEAF needs to be cognisant of the mechanical disconnect. This is not a criticism, merely stating the obvious, where on the selection of Drive by an effective wiggle of the controller, the 150bhp and in particular, the 320Nm of torque is instantly there, at the end of your big toe.
To the unfamiliar, driving an EV is surreal, the serenity filling your ears with everything bar what you were heretofore used to. Throttle response is wonderfully smile-inducing, as is the retardation when the e-pedal is activated. Any driver used to acceleration sense in an internal combustion engine will revel in this one pedal controller – love it.
Overall handling on the 2018 LEAF is very good, the floor-mounted lithium-ion batteries giving balance to the car when you head into the twisties. It’s no NISMO, so until the sports department of Nissan are let loose on the LEAF, best keep things prudently away from the edge.
Any EV will eat its battery life in open-road motorway driving, where there is little or no chance of regeneration. This changes on the urban commute, where deceleration and braking feed the batteries and keep the wheels turning.
With some 270 kilometres available when fully charged, this latest LEAF will dispel a huge amount of the anxiety expressed by drivers when considering an Electric Vehicle. Some seventy fast chargers dotted all over Ireland will allow for flexible journey planning by new car customers considering going EV.
Add to this, government incentives for companies, where the LEAF in its first year can save the company between €3,000 and €10,000, compared to an equivalent petrol/diesel powered car. Those afflicted with BIK, (Benefit in Kind), can see savings of close to €4,500, with Nissan reckoning annual running costs for the LEAF against a conventionally powered car delivering circa €1,400 in fuel and road tax savings. Now in its 40kW format, this latest LEAF is no longer tempting for some – it’s now a pragmatic alternative.
This latest LEAF will take the head-scratchers out of the equation and into the showrooms. We are in the throws of major change within the global motor industry. Anyone who doesn’t believe that EV’s can deliver need to get into this latest LEAF from Nissan. The future is here.
2018 Nissan LEAF 40kW XE (€26,290) Highlights
- 16" Steel Wheels
- e-Pedal with regenerate
- Temporary Spare Wheel
- LED Rear Signature Lamp
- Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian recognition
- Intelligent Lane Intervention & Departure Warning
2018 Nissan LEAF SV (€28,690) Highlights
- 16" Alloy Wheels
- Privacy Glass
- Leather Steering Wheel
- Heat Pump
- Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)
- Nissan Connect
/2018 Nissan LEAF SV Premium (€32,600) Highlights
- 17" Alloy Wheels
- Cold Pack
- Leather Seats
- Bose Premium Audio + 7 speakers
- Intelligent Auto Headlights with LED Headlights & Signature Day Time Running Lights