Review: Nissan Leaf (2018)
Impressive real-world range (especially the E+ model). Relaxed drive. Plenty of space.
Infotainment seems dated. High-spec models are expensive.
Nissan Leaf (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £27,290, brokers can source from £22,981
- Contract hire deals from £203.70 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.
From 2019, there's also a higher-powered version badged the E+. This has 217PS and can cover up to 239 miles between charges, meaning it's a genuinely useable electric car. With prices starting at more than £35,000 (after the government's plug-in car grant), it's expensive, though.
No matter which Leaf you opt for, one interesting 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 standard 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 more suited to urban driving than rural roads.
The interior feels more conventional than the old Leaf with higher quality materials, but it's far from premium. An improved version of Nissan's eight-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 Leaf's a very competent electric car, it doesn't shine in any particular area and there's an increasing amount of very impressive competition. It's a perfectly likeable introduction to electric motoring, though, with a big boot and a very useable electric range.
What does a Nissan Leaf (2018) cost?
Nissan Leaf (2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of five stars
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 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 eight-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 rivals like the Volkswagen e-Golf and Hyundai Ioniq. It's far from premium, with a below-par infotainment system and drab materials.
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.
Specifications (September 2019):
Acenta features 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, electric folding door mirrors, leather steering wheel with switches, a faster heater, intelligent cruise control, NissanConnect EV 8-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.
E+ Tekna adds a longer range, metallic blue front bumper finisher, e+ embossed charging port.
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 rear 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.
The E+ model will reach 62mph a second quicker, and is comfortably quick enough for overtaking other traffic - but doing so will obviously impact range.
While the Leaf is at its element around town, its batteries are located under the floor which means it has a low centre of gravity. As a result, there's not too much lean during high speed cornering, although the steering is overly light and doesn't provide much feedback.
On the motorway, the Leaf is happy at 70mph, although you're better switching the cruise control on at around 60mph if you want to get as far as possible without charging it.
What have we been asked about the Nissan Leaf (2018)?
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