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The New Nissan Leaf

This article provides a review of the new Nissan Leaf

Electric cars are not exactly a new invention. They actually date back to the Victorian times. At that time, they were in the form of battery-powered horse carriages roaming around in the streets of Paris and London. For modern times, the Nissan Leaf is actually the oldest electric vehicle. It was launched back in 2011 and was a proper car. The Nissan Leaf is now in its second generation and is much better as compared to the older one. It is more sophisticated and refined and can take you long distances without the need to charge.

The driving of the car is really superb and it can reach from 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds, making it much nippier than a Renault Zoe and a Volkswagen e-Golf. While accelerating though, you need to be a bit careful because too much pressure on the accelerator may spin the front wheels of your vehicle. When you lift your foot off the pedal, the car will start slowing down because the regenerative brakes will harvest energy to replenish the battery.

But when it comes to electric cars, performance isn’t just about how quickly you can speed up and slows down; it’s about how far you can get between charges. Nissan makes a bold claim of 235 miles – this, admittedly, is based on a wholly unrepresentative official European test cycle called the NEDC, but it’s still better than the 230 miles and 186 miles achieved by the Zoe and e-Golf respectively on the same test.

In our real-world tests, the Leaf managed 108 miles on a full charge. That’s better than the e-Golf (93 miles) but considerably behind the Zoe (131 miles). However, our tests were conducted in chilly weather (3-5deg), which has a big impact on battery performance. It’s safe to say all of these cars would have much longer ranges in the summer.

The Leaf is far from a hot hatch but it does stay more upright through bends than a Zoe or an e-Golf. Its steering is a match for the e-Golf’s, too; less natural-feeling but heavier and a bit more precise.

You might imagine that the supposedly sporty rear-wheel-drive i3 would be the benchmark for handling in this class, but actually the Leaf is far more composed and settled along twisty roads – especially when the road gets bumpy.

No electric car in this price bracket is truly great fun to drive, though. So if want one that is, you’ll need to save up for a Tesla Model S.

You sit quite high up in the Leaf, almost as though you’re driving an MPV. You’ll either like that or you won’t, but the fact that the steering wheel only moves up and down (not in and out) is a big issue; it means there’s a good chance that you'll be forced to sit closer to, or farther away from, the wheel than you’d ideally like.

You won’t have too many issues seeing out of the front or side windows of the Leaf, although over-the-shoulder visibility could be better. You do get a rear-view camera to help mitigate this on all but entry-level Visia trim, plus front and rear parking sensors on N-Connecta and above (these are optional on the cheaper trims).

N-Connecta and Tekna trims even come with an around-view camera that displays a bird’s eye view of the car on the central touchscreen to make parking extra easy.

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