We’ve got Nissan’s new 40kWh LEAF EV in for three months to find out how easy it is to live with an electric car in 2019.
It’s bit over a year since the second generation Nissan LEAF arrived on sale in the UK, since when it’s gone on to sell a shed load (well, by EV standards) as the new LEAF broadens the appeal of the first LEAF with new, more mainstream, family hatch styling and, importantly, a new 40kWh battery promising more range.
The vastly improved looks and practicality of the new LEAF have turned more buyers on to the idea of an electric car, as too has the promise of improved range from the new bigger 40kWh battery pack. Not only that, but the new batteries power a more potent electric motor too, so you’ll be able to embarrass more kids in tarted hatches than before.
So we figured, as this LEAF looks to be a real alternative to an ICE car (most of the time), it was about time we spent some time with a LEAF to find out just how easy it is to live with it in 2019.
To that end, Nissan has sent us a range-topping LEAF Tekna for three months, complete with ProPilot, leather a suede heated seats, Bose Sound, surround view and even ProPilotPark and a Spring Cloud Green metallic paint which actually looks refreshingly different to the usual blacks, whites silvers and greys we usually get.
We’ll spend the first couple of months getting used to the LEAF as a daily driver, find out what sort of real world range it has (especially in colder weather), how we get on with e-pedal (Nissan’s one-foot driving experience) and plugging the LEAF in to a domestic supply for recharging.
That should give us a good idea of how easy it is to live with the LEAF as a daily driver, how realistic its range is, how practical it is and how it is to drive.
We’ll be interested to find if we need to keep it in ‘Eco’ mode all the time to get the quoted range, or if we can enjoy the LEAF’s quick off the mark EV acceleration without compromising range too much.
Living with the new Nissan LEAF – Month 2
The nice chap who delivered our LEAF from Nissan suggested that if we want to get the best out of the LEAF’s range we should leave it in ECO mode and refrain from using the climate control. So we figured that would be a good place to start.
Left in ECO the LEAF is a perfectly decent, although slightly disappointing, performer, delivering a really properly comfortable ride and doing it in such a hushed way you do wonder how you ever put up with the noise of an ICE engine.
Around town it is terrific, delivering all the benefits of a decent family hatch, but doing it with absolutely zero raised blood pressure whatever’s going on around.
The LEAF’s e-pedal is a revelation once you get used to it, and in town it is proper one-foot driving, just using the throttle as a linear switch to go slower or quicker. It’s easy to use, even if it’s really just a ‘feature’ take on the progressive amounts of braking you can dial in on other EVs.
This way of driving the LEAF is perfect for around town (but turn it off when parking), but we soon realised the LEAF becomes much more appealing when venturing a bit further afield, when away from congested urban roads it was much more appealing with the ECO mode turned off.
True, around town we were getting around 150 miles of range from each charge (we’re in the habit of plugging it in every night on a 3-pin), but, realistically, it’s more like 130 miles with the ECO off. But it does make the LEAF much livelier.
We also have to confess we’ve given up eschewing the climate for range, so when it’s chilly – which it has been – the auto climate goes on and the heated seats are used too. Then, with ECO off and Climate on, we’re probably getting a realistic 120 miles of range. Which, unless you’re venturing further afield, is more than enough for every day.
In practical terms, the LEAF has proved very capable of ferrying children and dogs, with the boot big enough to cram plenty in, even if the lip is a bit high and there’s a great big sub-woofer on the floor for the BOSE.
The seats in the front are a bit perch-like, and the infotainment and instruments seem a bit last generation, but the LEAF as a whole conspires to be so practical, relaxing and quiet you can forgive it the few trespasses we’ve discovered so far.
Next month, we’ll look at how practical the charging network is on the go, and how easy it is to use the LEAF’s ‘autonomous’ abilities.