The Nissan Leaf is currently the only all Electric (EV) production car available in the UK. I have been lucky enough to be given some time behind the wheel to see if the Leaf could be a viable alternative to the usual ICE (internal combustion engine) offerings and a hypermiler’s dream car powered by nothing more than
some AAs 48 lithium ion modules.
Firstly lets start with the exterior. Those familiar with the current breed of Nissans will note that the Leaf isn’t a radical departure from the present line up. Nissan have worked hard to ensure that the 5 seater doesn’t stand out too much in a crowd. Much of the styling has been based around ensuring the car is as aerodynamically efficient as possible. Raised headlight clusters are positioned to divert air around the wing mirrors and a rear diffuser is in place up back to further reduce drag. Other less noticeable additions include the specially designed alloy wheels mated to the near flat bellied chassis.
Compared to many of the current fuel sippers it seems, dare I say it. Plain.?
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Inside is certainly a different matter. Most striking the white plastic interior with the contrasting all electric dash board. With the low floor pan it actually feels quite roomy and the light colours help make it seem somewhat larger than it actually is. The seating position is fine and you are greeted by an array of lights and electronic dials to ensure you are able to use as little power as possible to propel the little Nissan around.
There is ample room for 4 adults and at a squeeze 3 could be perched on the rear bench. This would be neither ideal for optimum efficiency or those suffering from claustrophobia.
With the interior out the way, lets take it for a spin.
The freakiest thing about this car is the lack of noise. Pressing the power button simply illuminates the display, the rattle of the engine is noticeably lacking and quite eerie. This continues as you select the drive gear and press the accelerator. The feeling can only be described as unnerving as it silently wafts forward with an underlying reserve of torque waiting an ready to give the car an instant speed boost. The 80kW or 107 horsepower front mounted engine produces a healthy 280 Nm of torque, all available with very little delay. Those wanting outright speed maybe disappointed and also left lacking with its 87MPH topspeed. The Nissan’s interior build quality was outstanding, rattles, squeaks and creeks where absent from the cockpit at all speeds, again adding to the silence.
I most certainly didn’t feel that it needed any more poke. The smooth power delivery combined with the seamless transmission certainly rewarded careful and thoughtful driving, qualities essential for any budding hypermiler.
My jaunt about Peterborough and the surrounding villages yielded some impressive efficiency results. Use of the Leaf’s regenerative braking system together with other Hypermiling techniques meant that traveling over 25 miles only managed to knock 7 miles from the cars estimated range. The stop and start nature combined with the hilly terrain suited the car and helped minimise the power usage.
Little additions like the touch screen display give the car a well spec’ed feel. The in dash screen not only helped to choose the radio station of choice but also displayed statistics on power usage and more importantly range.
Overall I was very impressed with the Nissan Leaf. It’s a very well built small family car that would be perfect for anyone that wouldn’t be affected by the restricted range (just over 100 miles) and charging time. For someone like me who travels less than 30 miles a day and already owns a second car, it would fit the bill perfectly.
It may seem a little pricey starting at £25,990 , which could get even more hard to swallow if the government put the brakes on the Electric car grant that currently offers up to £5k towards your purchase. The retail prices is actually £30,990 .
I would also like to explain a little bit more regarding the dealer facilities available to leaf owners. The Smiths Nissan Dealership in Peterborough where VERY knowledgeable on all aspects of the Leaf’s technical specification. The dealership has even gone as far to install 2 recharge points for EV owners to use free of charge, one of which is a 30 minute fast charger. Perfect for those that live in proximity to the garage and could make the car very cheap to run indeed!
They have seen great interest in the car and have exceeded sales forecasts. I am honestly not surprised, it s a great little car.