Our Cars: Nissan Leaf Tekna

20 December 2018: Winter motoring in a electric vehicle

The Details

Current mileage 7997
Claimed range 168
Actual range 110

As we head towards winter, we’ve got a great chance to find out how the Leaf performs during a cold spell. Most obviously, we’ve seen a dip in range from the battery. Official figures quote 168 miles on a charge for the Leaf, but we’ve never seen it go above 150.

And as the car has gathered information from our driving style, this tends to sit at about 130 (slightly more if you run it in eco mode full time). That’s not to say I’ve got a heavy right foot – more to do with a non-EV friendly commute.

See, there’s a weird thing that happens when you drive the Leaf – you realise that not all range miles are created equal. For example, an 18-mile trip into Cambridge in slow moving and/or stop-start traffic uses only about 15 range miles.

But a 30-mile trip on a clear motorway at 70mph uses up close to 45 range miles. That’s because the driving in stop start traffic allows regenerative braking – that’s where the car harvests the energy generated by slowing down and feeds it back into the battery.

Nissan _LEAF_024 (1)

And despite the Leaf’s ‘leisure battery’ being employed to run things like heaters and lights, winter has definitely taken its toll on the range. For us, that’s not too much of a concern – the car gets charged every night as it’s impossible to do more than one day’s commute on a charge.

What’s slightly more concerning about the Leaf in the winter is power delivery and handling. One of the things we love most about the car is power delivery – no turbos, no gears… just put your foot down and off you go.

But the low rolling resistance tyres offer very little grip (to maximise economy) which means that anywhere below five degrees and you’ll spin the wheels. The car is also easily upset and doesn’t communicate well to the driver what’s happening underfoot.

After hitting a patch of black ice, I was the last person to find out as the steering remained as weighted as ever (rather than going light) and as the car slid I had to work extra hard to get control back as the slightest application of power caused the tyres to spin. And not in a fun way – my old Primera handled better (and that handled like a sack of spuds).

« Earlier: Are friends electric? Leaf joins the fleet     Later: Nissan Leaf vs Rivals »

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