Review: Nissan Leaf (2018)
168-mile real world range. Relaxed drive. Plenty of space.
Infotainment seems dated. Expensive compared to petrol and diesel rivals.
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Nissan Leaf (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £27,290, brokers can source from £25,543
- Contract hire deals from £273.67 per month
- Insurance Group 24
When the Nissan Leaf arrived in the UK in 2011, it was revolutionary. An all-electric car with a usable range, as much practicality as a family hatch and a relatively affordable purchase price helped it secure the title of the world's best-selling electric car.
The latest model features a sleeker design, a bigger battery and therefore a longer 168 mile range under new 'real world' WLTP tests. Power has been increased to 110kW - equivalent to 150PS - while torque has been increased to 320Nm, improving performance.
Nissan will introduce a more expensive higher-power version with a bigger battery providing a range of close to 310 miles from 2019.
One interesting new feature is the e-Pedal. With this turned on, the electric motor automatically slows the car down, pumping energy back into the battery. Although many electric cars feature regenerative braking, this is more extreme - braking harshly enough for most situations and even allowing you to resort to one pedal driving most of the time.
This contributes to a very relaxed driving experience. It's pokey around town - although the Leaf soon starts to run out of breath at motorway speeds, and the lack of an engine means you'll notice more road noise than usual. It handles fairly well, with a low centre of gravity thanks to the batteries positioned underneath the floor, although it's not as agile as the Volkswagen e-Golf.
The interior feels more conventional than the old Leaf with higher quality materials - although it's still not as premium as the Volkswagen. An improved version of Nissan's 7-inch infotainment system looks dated but is easy to use, providing access to the navigation and audio systems, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
There's plenty of space in the cabin, with enough room to carry four adults in relative comfort. The boot floor is flatter than before, while there's a generous 435 litres of luggage space with the rear seats left up.
Although the latest Leaf won't make the headlines in the same way as the original, it's a perfectable likeable introducing to electric motoring. It's very useable - with a decent range and a bit boot. We just don't think it's quite as polished as it perhaps could be.
What does a Nissan Leaf (2018) cost?
Nissan Leaf (2018): What's It Like Inside?
It was clear with the old Nissan Leaf that the development budget had been spent in areas other than the interior. Fortunately, the new Leaf's cabin is plusher than before and less likely to put people off who aren't necessarily keen early adopters.
A few hard plastics aside, the Leaf's interior is perfectly likeable. There's plenty of space, and there's not many giveaways that you're in an electric car - a good thing if you're used to a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.
There's the same seven-inch infotainment system as you'll find in other models such as the Qashqai, but with added features such as a 'find my nearest charge point' tool. It's not the slickest system to use - with poor graphics and complex menus. Fortunately you can swerve it by using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The seats are comfortable and it's fairly easy to find a good driving position - although, strangely, the steering wheel will go up and down but doesn't adjust for reach.
The main issue with the Leaf's interior is it just isn't as good as the Volkswagen e-Golf's. It's an improvement, sure, but the Golf feels rather premium. The Leaf's interior is quite dark and drab, with a below-par infotainment system.
Having said that, the boot's a generous 435 litres and the rear seats fold down if you do need more space - although not entirely flat. Leave the rear seats up and there's plenty of space for adults in the back, although they do sit slightly higher because of the batteries located under the floor.
Visia features 16-inch steel wheels, halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED signature rear lights, chrome door handles, 7-inch TFT screen, black fabric seats with manual adjustment, 60:40 folding rear seats, front centre armrest, automatic air conditioning (with timer and heater), automatic headlights, cruise control and speed limiter, front and rear electric windows, tilt adjustable steering wheel, audio system with CD, AM/FM, USB, aux and four speakers, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, e-Pedal (with regenerative function), six airbags, ISOFIX, lane departure warning, cross traffic alert, blind sport warning.
Acenta adds 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, electric folding door mirrors, leather steering wheel with switches, a faster heater, intelligent cruise control, NissanConnect EV 7-inch infotainment screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, six speakers, rear view monitor.
N-Connecta comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, electric folding door mirrors, gloss black B-pillar, part leather/part cloth heated seats, leather heated steering wheel, rear view mirror with auto dimming, intelligent around view moniro, moving object detection, intelligent driver alertness and parking sensors.
Tekna features full LED headlights with auto levelling, synthetic leather door trim, leather heated seats, leather heated steering wheel, electronic parking brake, Bose premium audio system with seven speakers, ProPilot.
Child seats that fit a Nissan Leaf (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Nissan Leaf (2018) like to drive?
If you've never driven an electric car before, you're in for a treat with the Nissan Leaf. Its instant torque and zero engine noise means it's much more relaxing to drive than a conventional petrol or diesel car.
Want a quick getaway from a junction? Just press the accelerator and off you go, without delay. Cruising along the motorway? You'll have to turn the radio up slightly to drown out road noise, but there's no drone from the engine.
Many electric cars feature regenerative braking which automatically scrubs off speed as soon as you lift off the accelerator, pumping energy back into the battery. Not only does it help range, but it also means you don't have to use the brakes as much.
The Nissan Leaf has fairly extreme regen braking, dubbed the e-Pedal. With this switched on, you can drive suprisingly long distances without any need to touch the brake pedal.
Just lift off the accelerator and the Leaf will slow down pretty rapidly. The downside is that, when you do need to brake harder, it's difficult to moderate the pressure and your passengers might end up mimicking nodding dogs as you try to work out just how much braking is needed.
It's also worth noting that lifting off the accelerator triggers the brake lights - if you're on and off the accelerator pedal, you might unintentionally be replicating a disco with the brake lights.
Another perk of electric cars is the fairly swift acceleration. The Leaf's 40kWh battery provides enough juice for it to accelerate to 62mph in a not-too-shabby 7.9 seconds. Around town, it's quicker than this figure suggests. Hit the accelerator hard and it will very quickly reach 30mph.
In fact, it's rather enjoyable on city streets, but the steering is too light for fun on rural roads. However, the batteries positioned under the floor means there's a low centre of gravity, allowing you to take roundabouts enthusiastically with little body roll if you feel the need. Although, most of the time you'll be more concerned with not using too much electricity.
On the motorway, the Leaf is happy at 70mph, although you will notice the range dropping quickly if you sit at high speeds for prolonged periods. Although the Leaf isn't a town car in the same guise as the Renault Twizy, it's certainly more suited to sitting in traffic than driving on open roads.
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