Leaf N-Connecta 40kWh
love to, of course you
would… but what about the range
issue? Forget it, because with up
to a 235-mile range, Nissans pure-
electric Leaf could very well be
the EV to overturn your excuses
for not buying an electric car!
AND IF YOU DO, you'll be in good company because of all the straight
EVs already driving on British roads, more than half are Nissan Leafs.
Looks-wise your neighbours won't know your Leaf is not just another conventional
five-door family hatchback. More good news: there are no compromises when it
comes to inner space this is a fully-fledged five-seater measuring a
smidgen under four-and-a-half metres nose-to-tail.
a well executed design, too, and the Leaf looks especially debonair finished
in the Silk Green metallic of our press car. Its eye-catching appearance is
enhanced by sharp-cut wings and an intriguing side profile accentuated by a
deft Coke-bottle flourish linking the C-pillar with the roofline. At the front
there's a trademark Nissan-branded 'V' grille that's plenty purposeful without
being in-your-face, while at the back are spear-shaped wraparound taillights
and no exhaust pipes to mar the minimalistic tailgate treatment.
taking a minute to walk around this latest Leaf and appreciate the subtle touches,
it will suddenly dawn on you that despite the athletic bodyshell it's actually
taller than many of its classmates: in fact, at 1,540mm it's just two inches
shorter than its high-riding SUV stablemate, the Qashqai a definite bonus
when getting in and out.
youre motoring through
a cityscape or on mixed
open roads, a fully-
charged Leaf will waft
you along silently
and with zero emissions
for 242 city miles or,
if youre outside the
city gates, 168.
In our real-world
test-driving we regularly
managed an anxiety-
free 157 miles between
underscores the Leafs
suitability to be an EV
that you really can run
as your only car...
But its most important numbers are reserved for the range. Depending on whether
you're motoring in a cityscape or on mixed open roads, a fully-charged Leaf
will waft you along silently and with zero emissions for 242 city
miles or, if you're outside the city gates, 168.
The reason you get substantially more miles-per-charge in city driving is down
to the stop-start traffic which, in a traditionally powered car usually leads
to raised blood pressure and lower mpg but which in the Leaf draws a permanent
smile on your face because you know every interruption is extending your range.
In our real-world testing we regularly managed an anxiety-free 157 miles between
charges, which underscores the Leaf's suitability to be an EV that you really
can run as your only car.
Other figures of interest will be the acceleration and top speed: 0-62mph takes
a crisp 7.9 seconds, proving that green 'n' clean won't take the sheen off your
driving, although the 90mph top speed could still get you in trouble on the
As reassuring as it is to know that the Leaf's bankable range trumps that of
just about every rival, the elephant in the room for all EVs is the time required
to charge up the battery pack. In the Leaf's case, a 7kW wallbox at home will
dispense a 0-100% charge overnight in seven-and-a-half hours.
While you're out and about, a pit-stop at any public 50kW fast charger will
'refill' the battery pack from an empty warning to 80% in forty to sixty minutes
while you read the paper and relax over a cappuccino and pastry. Usefully, pressing
the appropriate button gets the SatNav to take you to the nearest charger that
best fits in with your route.
you're using a domestic three-point plug socket, then a full charge from zero
will take 21 hours although we zipped through several half-full to 100% charge-ups
in just six hours.
charging your Leaf easier is the plug-in charging port sited in the nose, where
it makes a lot more sense than on the flanks (where many others put theirs),
especially when using public charging posts. Thoughtf ully,
it's also illuminated so no night-time fumbles, plus the charge leads are long
enough to reach a domestic point at the very back of your garage (handy because
you can't 'stretch' them piggybacking an extension cable). Another useful feature:
on switching off, the system tells you at what time the Leaf will be fully charged
again if you begin charging at that point.
the convenience factor, using your mobile or laptop, you can remotely initiate
battery charging along with cabin pre-heating and cooling, as well as checking
the range and charge level.
control is another
plus, allowing you
to keep your hands on
the wheel and your eyes
on the road while using
the phone or controlling
the SatNav (setting the
destination or perhaps
zooming in on, say, a
motorway exit), Audio,
and Drivers Information
(Where is the nearest
charging point?; How
much range is left?)...
Open the driver's door (easy-peasy courtesy of keyless entry and locking) and
take your seat in the Leaf's spacious cabin. While some EV carmakers think a
Star Trek fascia is de rigueur, Nissan haven't fallen into that particular
trap the smart, well-finished cabin could belong to any upscale non-fossil-fuelled
The large seats are well padded with effective bolstering (and very quick two-stage
heating) and are upholstered in synthetic leather with patterned fabric centre
panels. The flat-bottomed multifunctional steering wheel is also heated and
finished with smart blue detail stitching it only adjusts for height
but that's not a problem as the seat is generously adjustable.
Top-hat levels of headroom, plenty of legroom, and height-adjustable seatbelts
combine with a spot-on driving position and good all-round visibility to create
a car that's easy to place and feels good to be in and to drive.
The dash is logically laid out with a regular 7-inch infotainment touchscreen
at it centre; the instrument cluster features a traditional analogue speedometer
adjacent to a customisable 7-inch TFT digital display. Keeping track of core
driving data such as the charge and range (for instance: 97% and 155 miles),
road speed (a crystal clear digital readout), the posted speed limit, and selected
driving mode, is a doddle. Ensuring you can see all around the Leaf when manoeuvring
in any direction is a multi-view monitor slaved to the infotainment screen
choose between two camera views: overhead with front, side, and rear warnings;
plus front/rear with active guide lines.
control is another 'plus', allowing you to keep your hands on the wheel and
your eyes on the road while using the phone, or managing the SatNav (set the
destination or perhaps zoom in on, say, a motorway exit), Audio, and Driver's
Information (Where is the nearest charging point?; How much range is left?).
also find in-cabin storage to be suitably accommodating, with siamesed dual-use
cupholders, deep bottle-holding door bins, a storage box under the padded centre
armrest, a large glovebox, and smartphone bay-cum-oddments tray at the base
of the centre stack.
no steep learning curve before you press the glowing blue Power On button. In
place of a conventional lever is a great-to-use joystick-style selector knob:
Park is at 9 o'clock; Reverse at 12; Neutral at 3; and Drive/Brake at 6. Toggling
between D and B (for some 'engine braking'/battery pack replenishing on the
move) takes but a flick of the joystick. Close by is an Eco drive mode switch
plus an e-Pedal button.
is not actually another
pedal but simply a clever
feature that lets the
accelerator pedal be used
for undemanding one-
pedal driving that saves
on wasteful braking by
braking when you lift off
the throttle. The main
brake pedal is still used
for serious braking...
The Leaf's e-Pedal is not actually another pedal but simply a clever feature
that lets the accelerator be used for undemanding 'one-pedal' driving that saves
on wasteful braking by activating recharging braking when you lift off the throttle.
The main brake pedal is still used for serious braking.
The system really comes into its own in town. You'll know it's on because the
accelerator has more resistance than usual and the moment you lift off your
speed fades progressively until you come to a complete halt as extra-strong
regenerative braking cuts smoothly in (if necessary, automatically enhanced
by some friction braking although you only need use the 'proper' brake pedal
in an emergency). It's an addictive and utterly hassle-free way to drive in
Upping its desirability as the cabin of choice to travel in is the electric
drivetrain's refinement. If you're switching from petrol or diesel then the
Leaf's serene cabin ambiance will be a real eye-opener, and adds considerably
to the Leaf's laid-back driving style.
are equally up to date courtesy of Nissan's Connect infotainment and SatNav
system that along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone shack-ups
also gives you Bluetooth connectivity, useful built-in apps, a decent hi-fi
and a clear-speaking navigator you can trust. The clued-up navigation will,
in addition to reliable spoken directions and idiot-proof mapping, pinpoint
charging stations along your route.
(£400) on the N-Connecta is Nissan's easy to operate semi-autonomous driver
assistance system, called Pro Pilot providing you keep your hands on
the wheel, this 'auto-pilot' takes over the steering and intelligent cruise
on well-marked traffic lanes while it manages your speed to maintain a set distance
from the vehicle ahead and, when necessary, bringing the Leaf to a complete
halt before pulling away again. It will even perform motorway overtakes; just
flick the indicator on and it smoothly accelerates around the car ahead. Pro
Pilot also brings with it an automated parking jockey able to handle both drive-in/reverse-out
bay and parallel parking for you.
is also plenty of kit fitted as standard including automatic AirCon (with a
fast heater function), push-button Start, intelligent cruise control and speed
limiter, intelligent object-detecting, 360-degree around-view cameras, parking
sensors, electric parking brake (with auto hold), powerfolding door mirrors
(on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), tinted and privacy glass,
all electric windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic high-beam switching,
traffic sign recognition, full projector headlights with LED daytime running
lights, signature rear LED lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
up to date courtesy of
infotainment and SatNav
system that along with
Android Auto and Apple
CarPlay for smartphone
hook-ups also gives you
useful built-in apps,
a decent hi-fi and a clear-
speaking navigator you
can trust. The clued-up
navigation will, in
addition to reliable
spoken directions and
stations along your
The Leaf additionally comes with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, six airbags,
Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Lane Departure Warning,
Intelligent Lane Intervention (guides you back into lane should you inadvertently
drift out), Intelligent Trace Control (automatically applies the brakes to keep
the car on its cornering line), Blind Spot Warning, Moving Object Monitor, Intelligent
Driver Alertness Monitor, Hill-start Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to
watch your back for you when reversing.
Entry to the rear cabin is through wide-opening doors that are not so big as
to be a hindrance in car parks. A five-seat car, there's good room for four
six-foot grown- ups in the Leaf, with three side-by-side being doable. Back
seat passengers sit noticeably higher than their compatriots travelling up front
but there's still decent headroom (and comfy headrests) and the views out are
better as a result.
well-padded seats ensure that those in the back won't have anything to complain
about; legroom and foot room in the wide footwells is generous. Parents will
appreciate the Isofix child-seat mounting points and all passengers will be
glad of the heated seats, bottle-holding door bins, biggish seatback pouches
and conveniently long outer armrests.
quickly take to wafting around in a Leaf because it moves almost silently, so
much so that travelling in one, even in rush-hour traffic, is calming to the
point of being meditative. Really, the sweet spot of a Leaf is its inner peace.
ride itself is good even over poor tarmac and despite the slightly firm suspension
(necessary to compensate for the hefty underfloor battery pack that contributes
to its 1,640kg kerb weight) the Leaf rides agreeably flat, feeling well-controlled
through the twisty sections on faster open roads.
you've thumbed the Start button and selected Drive just press the accelerator.
The Leaf zips forward with real verve courtesy of 236lb ft of eager and instant
torque, every last pound-foot of it on tap from the get-go unlike a combustion
engine that won't serve up its full load until at least 1,750rpm. The sheer
slinkiness of the Leaf's acceleration and pace makes you feel that you're aboard
a much higher powered premium car. Motorways are cruised with an equanimity
that will calm even the most fractious passengers.
Leaf steers well (both lightly in town but with ample directness to position
the car confidently entering sweeping bends), handles predictably, and the brakes
are powerful and confidence-inspiring no easy task when blending regenerative
and friction braking (as EV cars must) but Nissan's engineers have managed it
nicely on the Leaf.
the hatch and the
SUV-sized boot offers 400
litres for luggage or a
very large familys
shop which is more than
in other comparable
Even better is the
1,176-litre loadbay you
get with the 60:40-split
Add to that decent
body control and its flat-riding demeanour and it feels both agile and unexpectedly
Lift the hatch and the regular-shaped Qashqai SUV-sized boot offers 400 litres
for luggage or a very large family's weekly shop (435 without the parcel shelf
in situ), which is more than in other comparable pure-electric rivals.
Even better is the 1,176-litre loadbay you get with the 60:40-split rear seatbacks
dropped down. Not being a fully-fledged estate car, there is a raised rear sill
with a drop down into the boot and a step-up from the boot floor to the level
backs of the folded rear seats, neither of which hamper this family hatchback's
Affordable, likeable and foolproof to drive, the Leaf provides family space
and comfort along with a trustworthy and practical battery range that makes
it a pleasure to own and drive. They say that once you've tried electric you'll
never go back. Believe it! ~ MotorBar
Nissan Leaf N-Connecta 40kWh
| £26,490 (after £3,500 Government grant)
Top speed: 90mph | 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds | Test Average: 157 miles
Power: 147bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2: 0g/km