The Nissan Leaf has been around since 2010. This car is probably the best known electric vehicle in Ireland and it has played its part in the ESB marketing for EVs. The Leaf has recently received a huge update and it is starting to improve in the area that deters most potential customers – range anxiety. The new Leaf has a claimed reach of 250km and while this is very good, we wonder if it’ll be enough to attract some more early adapters to plug in.
If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle you will already be armed with the fact that if you put the foot to the floor you will receive instant torque. This is probably your ammunition for all of those naysayers out there. Unfortunately, instant torque is as thrilling as it gets in an electric vehicle because actually getting from 0-100 km/h can be achieved in 11.5 seconds. On-paper that figure isn’t too impressive but while driving around cities this machine is a nippy little car. We’re told that the maximum power of the engine is 80kW, which in conventional terms translates as 107 bhp. The maximum torque of the vehicle is 254Nm. Top speed according to Nissan is 144 km/h.
What is astonishing about the Leaf is how conventional this fully electric vehicle actually feels when you bring it onto the open road. If this car wasn’t silent and had the sounds of a conventional engine coming from under the hood the only thing that would give away the fact that it’s an electric vehicle is the instant delivery of torque when you put the foot down. On the open road it rides smoothly and when it comes to twists in the road it doesn’t throw up any major flaws. However, and this bring me back to range anxiety – it may deal with the motorway well in terms of drive, but if you drive at motorway speeds for a prolonged period the range drops faster than it should. People who do opt for an electric vehicle will know in advance that driving styles of potential owners must change to get the best possible range from their vehicles.
At this point we usually give out about the grumble of a diesel engine but because this vehicle is fully electric there is nothing that be complained about in terms of engine noise. The silence of the engine does allow you to hear road and wind noise, but even at that the noise is not what we would describe as overly intrusive.
There is a fair amount of plastic on the dash of the Leaf but it isn’t cheap looking. The touch screen where you get all of the information about the vehicle looks dated and could do with some newer graphics.
The Nissan Leaf scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP in 2012. For adult occupancy they scored 89%. The child occupancy result was very good too with the Leaf scoring 83%. This vehicle comes with six airbags, approaching vehicle sounds for pedestrians and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points.
Along with the very conventional looking Renault Fluence ZE, the Leaf is probably the most practical electric vehicle that is readily available to our markets. The boot offers 370 litres and four adults would fit in here without any discomfort. Both head and leg room is excellent.