When Nissan launched the LEAF in 2010, there were only a handful of electric vehicles on the motoring market. But nearly seven years later, there are 30 electric and hybrid cars to choose from. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, has been in Italy this week to remind us why the Nissan Leaf is one of the best-selling electric vehicles ever.
I was in Italy, purely because Nissan had invited me to the unveiling of its special LEAF Black Edition near Milan. The model will be available in Britain in March and offers styling enhancements, including black alloy wheels, LED headlamps, privacy glass, black door mirror caps and a black rear roof spoiler. The limited-edition LEAF will be on sale for a restricted production run for just five months, with the first 1,000 customers receiving a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Style aside, I wanted to recall why the LEAF is so popular in Britain and, on cue, Nissan was happy to lend me a ‘regular’ LEAF for the day, albeit in left-hand drive.
The Japanese manufacturer has upgraded the Nissan Leaf to give it a longer range. The battery has been boosted from 24kWh to 30kWh, which will now give a possible range of 155 miles. What’s more, the battery’s warranty has been increased to eight years or 100,000 miles. Interestingly, Nissan has more surprises up its sleeve for the future. It is already working on a 48kWh pack and the next-generation LEAF, due out in 2018, might come with a 60kWh pack.
Kit and Cabin
For now, the 30kWh Nissan LEAF is impressive enough. The model is available at the higher end of the range – in Acenta or Tekna trims. The Acenta is furnished with a reversing camera, auto climate control, and a seven-inch infotainment screen with sat-nav. The Tekna I drove adds LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a Bose sound system, as well as heated seats and mirrors.
Once inside the cabin, the seating is comfortable and the switch-gear is laid out logically. Cheap plastic panels rain on the parade a little bit, but they are soon forgotten once the car whirs into life.
Power and Ride
On the move, the Nissan LEAF barely makes a sound. All you can hear are the tyres on the road – but that can be disregarded, thanks to the car’s nine-speaker sound system. Acceleration is brisk because, as with all electric cars, torque – or pulling power – is on tap instantly.
Even with a bit of tyre rumble, the car gives off an air of tranquility – especially if you put on some classical music. It seems to suit the car’s gentle character. Furthermore, the Nissan’s suspension is unflappable. I discovered this on some of the undulating, and sometimes dramatically uneven, roads on my drive around Lake Como, in Italy’s Lombardy region. The LEAF is happy to buzz along, cocooning you while you happily listen to Mozart. It’s enough to make the most anxious of stress-heads relaxed.
Nissan says the LEAF will manage 155 miles on a full charge, but in the real-world you’re looking at closer to 120 miles. That’s still great and, as I’ve mentioned, even more powerful batteries and longer ranges are planned. For now, the Nissan LEAF is a top car for city driving or for commutes that don’t involve too much town to town mile munching.
Whether it will entice motorists who need to hammer along the UK’s motorway network is another question. Why not contact Perrys to find out more?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Eco-friendly √
- Running Costs √
- Acceleration √
- Ride Comfort √
- Cabin Plastics X
Fast Facts (Tekna 109PS 30 kWh)
- Max speed: 113 mph
- 0-62 mph: 11.5 secs
- Range: 155 Miles
- Engine layout: Electric Motor
- Max. power (PS): 109
- CO2: 0 g/km
- Price: £31,880