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First drive: Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.

First drive: Nissan Leaf e+
More power and more range for the latest addition to the Nissan Leaf Mk2 family. Itís the best yet.

   



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Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna

4 4 4 4 4

Nissan enlarges the battery pack and enhances the e-motor on the Leaf Mk2 to give us the longest-range, fastest EV hatchback it has made yet. Called the Leaf e+, we think this is Nissan's best effort at zero-emissions transportations so far.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna
Pricing: Leaf range from £27,995, e+ Tekna from £35,895 (all prices include Government's £3,500 plug-in car grant)
Engine: 150kW electric motor
Transmission: front-wheel drive, single-speed reduction gear
Body style: five-door electric hatchback
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED Band 0: £0 per annum in perpetuity)
Combined economy: 18kWh/62.5 miles, claimed maximum range 239 miles (WLTP cycle)
Top speed: 98mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Power: 217hp at 4,600-5,800rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 500-4,000rpm
Boot space: 420-1,161 litres

What's this?

The latest addition to the Nissan Leaf family but don't worry about straining to see any visual changes - save for an extra blue strip in the front bumper and an 'e+' logo on the charging port, this Leaf Mk2 looks pretty much the same as every other Leaf Mk2. However, do not be fooled by the same exterior camouflage, as this Leaf is a very different, er... beast. It's called the Leaf e+ and it takes the existing 40kWh model and builds on it. The lithium-ion battery pack's capacity is up to 62kWh, the range has increased to almost 240 miles, the e-motor is taken from 110kW (150hp) all the way up to 150kW (217hp), trimming a full second from the 40kWh model's 7.9-second 0-62mph time to allow the Leaf e+ to hit the benchmark in less than seven seconds (Nissan targeting no less an EV luminary than the BMW i3s with this particular stat), and the top speed has increased to 98mph as well - beating that aforementioned Beemer by 5mph. The suspension on the Leaf e+ is also seven per cent stiffer than that on the 40kWh, which Nissan says makes it 'tauter' to steer, but there's an unwanted reason for the suspension fiddling and that's a sizeable 130kg weight gain as a result of the swollen battery pack. The e+ also rides 5mm higher to counter this mass, while the boot space is trimmed by 15 litres.

Nevertheless, it all looks good, inside and out. Plenty of space on board for four adults. Cabin finishing leagues apart from the old model's plasticky environs. An exterior that's less extrovert and beaky. And a boot which is still very good, only it has an element of the Bose sound system in the back (accounting for some of the lost cargo space). Anyway, the net result of the above is that you can go further in the Leaf e+ on a single charge and you can get to your more remote destinations in shorter order, too. Any drawbacks so far? Well, there's one: the price. The 40kWh model continues and costs from £27,995 as an Acenta, £29,995 as an N-Connecta and £30,995 as the top-ranking Tekna; all of these figures include the £3,500 Government grant for zero-emission vehicles. However, the e+ is only available as the Tekna and it's £4,900 pricier again than the corresponding 40kWh model, resulting in a bill of almost 36 grand after the grant. Ouch.

How does it drive?

Very well. This is easily the best Nissan Leaf, of either generation, that we've driven yet, making the most sense of the electric-car proposition and all the particular strengths that entails, while simultaneously feeling every bit as conventional, friendly and everyday-useable as any decent turbodiesel C-segment hatchback.

Price aside, there's little to dislike. Eco mode is the car's default and with it engaged, you might wonder where the 217hp has got to, but either depress the throttle far enough to activate what would, on a more 'normal' car with a 'proper' gearbox, be called kickdown or - better still - simply switch Eco mode off and the Leaf e+ feels properly potent. It fair zips off the line, making a mockery of its fulsome 1,709kg kerb weight (yes, 1.7 tonnes...) and providing a real sense of kick-in-the-back urge. This is most useful for nippy town driving, but it also allows the Leaf e+ to enact swift overtakes on open A-roads in an instant.

There's a slightly distant whooping noise to the power delivery to warn bystanders of the Leaf's momentum but, otherwise, the Nissan's forward progress is conducted in near-silence. This is because the other two noise contributors (the tyres and the aerodynamics) are not allowed to permeate the passenger cabin to any significant degree, so you're not acutely aware of road roar at motorway pace or anything greater than a modest, rustling susurration coming from the door mirrors. That means the Leaf e+ is serene to travel in, although an occasionally firm-edged ride courtesy of the 17-inch wheels and tougher suspension is a minor hiccup for the overall refinement score.

We're not going to rave about the handling, which is clean and precise but not particularly involving, but we will marvel at the e-Pedal. Click this little switch on the Leaf's console and you can control it reasonably skilfully without ever having to touch the brake, such is the strength of the regenerative stoppers. It takes a little finesse to get the stopping distances just right on first acquaintance, but you're soon using one-pedal-driving techniques out on the open roads in the Leaf e+, not just in urban areas. Overall, we really rather like the way the Leaf e+ goes about its business.

Verdict

The way the Nissan Leaf e+ drives and the extra range it purports to offer clearly make this the hatchback EV you should be looking at first and foremost, if you're thinking of making the switch from dirty fossil fuels to clean volts (let's not go into National Grid power sources, please and thank you...). What might count against the Leaf e+ is its high list price and also charging times that are no faster than 90 minutes for 20-80 per cent of its battery capacity on a 50kW rapid connection; it'll also take nearly 12 hours using the 6.6kW onboard charger and a 32-amp wallbox to re-juice the e+. However, if you can make the Leaf e+ work for you, both financially and in terms of its practicalities, it's a very fine little electric hatchback.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 24 Jun 2019



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2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.

2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.2019 Nissan Leaf e+. Image by Nissan.








 

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