Nissan Leaf (2011 – 2018) Review
Nissan Leaf (2011 – 2018) At A Glance
The Nissan Leaf is the world’s most popular electric car. Launched in 2011, the Leaf helped to kickstart the EV revolution, putting electric cars on the path from niche to mainstream. It had few direct rivals, but was followed a little while later by the Renault Zoe, the Leaf’s closest competitor on the used car market. Its biggest problem is the rate at which the electric car industry is developing, which means early versions of the Leaf are looking rather outmoded. Later models make more sense as an affordable entry point into the world of electric motoring.
The Nissan Leaf has secured a chapter in the big book of motoring history. It popularised the concept of electric motoring, taking the EV into the mainstream. Before the Leaf, an electric car meant a small driving range, limited practicality and high prices.
There was also the problem of a small charging network, which created a classic ‘chicken and egg’ situation.
A decade on, things are very different. Potential electric car customers have a wide range of new EVs to choose from, from relatively affordable city cars to luxury SUVs. It will take a while for these to become affordable used cars, which is why the Nissan Leaf is such a compelling prospect. Prices start from around £6,000, so it’s ideal if you’re taking your first steps in the world of electric motoring.
Launched in 2011, the Nissan Leaf grew in popularity as the years went by. If the Tesla Model S was the pin-up star of the electric car world, the Nissan Leaf was the mainstream hero. Relatively affordable, a decent range and conventional (if slightly oddball) styling meant it encouraged more people to take the electric plunge. Not that mixing electricity with water is a good idea…
Before the Leaf, electric cars were crude, expensive and unsophisticated machines. We couldn’t rely on cars like the Reva G-Wiz and Mitsubishi i-MiEV to catapult the electric car into the mainstream. That job was left to the Nissan Leaf and, soon after, the Renault Zoe.
Today, these are the most affordable electric cars you can buy used. Don’t expect to achieve anything like the electric driving range of the current crop of EVs. While the all-new Nissan Leaf can travel up to 239 miles on a single charge, the earliest Leaf can only muster 109 miles. Things improved in 2013, when the range increased to 124 miles, before a larger 30kWh battery arrived in 2015 to deliver a range of 155 miles.
This might be enough to handle your daily commute, but it would be worth seeking out a model with a 6.6kWh onboard charger. This allows you to use fast chargers, making the Nissan Leaf a viable prospect for longer journeys.
It’s reasonably practical, with a boot that’s a match for a family hatchback. You have to accept a few sacrifices due to the structure of the car, but thanks to five seats and five doors, the Leaf is a car you could live with on a daily basis. Just add electricity.
Excitement is one thing the Nissan Leaf is lacking. Sombre styling, a cabin that lacks sparkle and a so-so driving experience combine to make it a largely forgettable car. That said, anyone new to electric cars will relish the whippet-like acceleration, which is great fun in the city. Just don’t experience it too often – think of the electric range.
If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Nissan Leaf review.