- P11D Value/BIK Band: £31,935/9%
- 5-door, 5-seat hatchback
- 110 kW (150ps) electric motor 40 kWh battery, auto box
- Economy (WLTP combined)/C02: 168 mpg/0 g/km
- Performance: 0-62 mph, 7.9 secs/90mph
What is it?
Welcome to the Nissan Leaf, take two.
Nissan bravely went out on a limb with the first generation Leaf, introduced in 2010, as the world’s first mass produced electric family car.
Now the stage is set for this second generation Leaf and, as expected, it’s a significant step up in terms of range, charging, design, tech, driving appeal: in fact, pretty much any way you care to choose.
This new, sleeker Leaf is a car the business community would surely want to take a close look at thanks to that extended driving range, now up to 168 miles on the latest WLTP combined cycle, or up to 242 miles in city conditions.
Include faster charging capability (from zero to 80 per cent in some 40-60 mins, using a 50kW Quick Charger, for example) and the Leaf in its new iteration becomes far more of a real world car.
Likewise, with the Leaf’s power up almost 40 per cent to a new 110 kW (or 150 ps) and with 26 per cent extra torque (320 Nm) now on tap, the Leaf becomes one of the speedier C-segment models around with 0-62 mph occupying a brisk 7.9 secs.
Sign up for the Leaf and you are getting the complete package (car plus new, improved 40 kWh battery). There’s no option to lease the battery separately as is the case with the Renault Zoe, for example.
This new Leaf also sports some interesting new tech including the e-pedal which lets the driver accelerate or brake using just the one pedal, thus reducing brake use by up to 90 per cent, while constantly regenerating energy. Clever.
An updated version of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi autonomous driving technology appears for the highway. Pro Pilot Park is a further automatic parking function on the new Leaf, available on top versions.
Built at Nissan’s vast Sunderland plant in the UK, the new Leaf kicks off in four model grades – Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and (tested here) the high-spec Tekna, which has a P11D of £31,935.
Why would you want to drive a Leaf?
- The Leaf is 100% electric so seamless, silent and zero emission on the move. So of course no fuel costs or dieselgate-style city driving bans to worry about. It is clearly one of today’s leading eco cars, sending out a strong, green image.
- Key to the new Leaf is its new 110 kW (150 ps) electric motor and uprated 40 kWh Li-on battery back. It’s now quicker off the mark (0-62 mph in a claimed 7.9 secs) and offers an increased driving range, so making it a far more viable day-to-day contender.
- On a single charge, that driving range tops out at 235 miles under the NEDC system but comes down to a still viable 168 miles under the new, more real world WLTP test cycle. The new Leaf offers an impressive 242 mile city range, according to WLTP.
- Charging. From zero to 80 per cent (at a 50 kW quick charger point) takes some 40-60 minutes, depending on temperature and other factors. Plug in to a 7 kW wall box and it’s around 7.5 hours for a 100 per cent charge. From a domestic 3-pin socket zero to full charge, you are looking at a barely imaginable 21-26.5 hours, however.
- Nissan has hugely improved the looks of the Leaf, losing the gawkiness of the original and bringing it much closer to the mainstream and sister models like the new Micra. It’s a five-door hatch with an attractive, easy-to-assimilate interior and good comfort.
- Central to the new Leaf interior is a neat 7-inch TFT display, with sat/nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio. The screen also shows real time data on the nearest charging points. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on the new Leaf menu, too.
- Underneath, the Leaf’s platform is basically a carry over but Nissan has skillfully retuned spring, damper and roll bar settings, testing the car in Europe, to make it far more of a tidy, fluent handler. Body stiffness is up 15% and the car sits 5 mm lower.
- Nissan has also quickened the steering for better response and put a lot of effort into sound deadening. As a result, the Leaf steers neatly and is exceptionally quiet for its class. It rides well too, absorbing bumps and poor road surfacing with aplomb.
- The new e-pedal is a star. While it feels strange at first to use the accelerator both to move and slow the car down, you soon find it really effective. Over an entertaining 60-mile dash through the Scottish highlands, we barely touched the brakes at all…
- We tried Nissan’s semi autonomous ProPilot Assist tech on the highway. It works, keeping the car in lane and at a distance from the vehicle in front. But you need to be ready to place your hands on the wheel. If not, ultimately the Leaf comes to an abrupt halt…!
What might put you off a Leaf?
- Obviously, ‘range anxiety’ and finding a suitable charging point will still be uppermost in the mind when driving a Leaf, despite all the changes and improvements Nissan has brought into the second generation. In the city, though, you should be fine.
- While the new Leaf fares well for cabin space in the front, life in the back is a little more cramped and it’s a pity you can’t slide your feet under the rear seats to get more comfortable.
- Go for this Tekna top spec edition and the Bose stereo takes up 15 litres of boot space away from the Leaf’s standard 435 litre boot figure. Probably not a deal breaker but worth bearing in mind if you’re regularly hauling lots of stuff.
- Super low taxes ie £0 VED and no congestion charge to pay. However that low 9% charge and £2874 BIK for 2017-18 FY rises to 13% and £4152 BIK for 2018-19 FY, then again to 16% and £5110 for 2019-2020 FY. However, for 2020-21, the rate falls to 2%…
Verdict on the new Nissan Leaf Tekna
Nissan has convincingly moved the EV game on with this second generation Leaf.
Both in its design and the way it drives, the Leaf has now become more of ‘a real car,’ less an electric gizmo. While that might disappoint some early adopters, commercially, the car’s broadened appeal makes a lot of sense and will assuredly drive up sales.
The Leaf’s stronger 40 kWh battery is the key to the new, extended range, now officially up to 168 miles on the latest WLTP cycle, with a 242 mile range quoted for the city. These kind of figures clearly move the EV revolution closer to the mainstream.
So will the increase in charging points. Some 2000 in 2012 in the UK, there are now 15,000 and counting. So EV, as we know, is only going one way.
Until now, the Leaf hasn’t been that strong a fleet player, with retail buyers estimated to make up 80 per cent of the total. But with the improved driving performance, range and capability of the new Leaf, that could well now change.
Within the new Leaf family, Nissan has created the Visia as a kind of base edition fleet special, with low price and minimal spec.
However, Visia is expected to account for only 1 per cent of sales. Instead, the sales split is expected to be 27% for the Acenta; 36% for the N-Connecta and a remarkable 36 % for this top spec, relatively high priced Tekna.
With Nissan announcing plans to launch eight new EVs and sell 1 million electrified vehicles by 2022, this new Leaf surely represents an opening salvo on Nissan’s renewed high voltage EV world, with much more to come. It’s a very promising start.
What else should you know about the new Leaf?
- Pub quiz ammo. ‘Leaf’ stands for Leading – Environmentally Friendly – Affordable Family car. Nissan sold some 300,000 examples of the first generation Leaf.
- The Leaf is made at Nissan’s Sunderland UK plant. The original Leaf had a 24 kW battery and a single charge range of 76 miles. Today’s Leaf has a same-size 40 kW battery and 235 mile range (NEDC) or 168 miles on more objective WLTP cycle.
- Nissan reportedly has plans to introduce a longer-range battery later this year. Nissan is also said to be working on a mid-range 22 kW wall charger for fleets with a 120 minute recharge time.
- There are four model grades with the new Leaf, starting with the Visia whose spec includes 16-inch steel wheels, halogen headlights, fabric trim, auto air con, cruise control, Nissan’s e-pedal (with regenerative function) and both 50 kW Chademo Quick charger and 6.6 kW on board charger.
- Acenta gives you 16-inch alloys, then in addition to Visia adds front fog lights, recycled woven trim, leather steering wheel, Intelligent Cruise Control, NissanConnect EV 7”, Android Auto + Apple Car Play.
- N-Connecta has 17-inch alloys, adding electric folding door mirrors, part leather/cloth heated seats and Intelligent Around View Monitor to Acenta spec.
- Tekna has all of the above, adding full LED headlights with self levelling, synthetic leather door trim, heated leather seats and steering wheel, Bose Premium Audio with 7-speakers.