Car news

06 September 2017

The brand new Nissan Leaf is here

More power, more range per charge and all-new, less blobby styling. Like it?

Stephen Dobie
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This, internet, is the new Nissan Leaf. You’ll immediately note it looks different to the car it replaces: blobby design features are replaced by chiselled ones, while a two-tone colour scheme takes a bit of weight out of the design, too.

There’s a hint of the latest Micra and Qashqai about it – whether that’s a compliment or not depends on if you like those cars – but we can’t imagine many people would prefer the outgoing Leaf aesthetically. Correct us if we’re wrong in the comments box, mind.

Beneath the sharper styling is sharper tech. There’s more power – 147bhp and 320Nm are up from the old Leaf’s 108bhp and 250Nm – while more battery capacity means the range is much improved too, with a 378-kilometre official, EU cycle figure. That means sub-320 kilometres in real life, most likely.

The top speed has climbed to 145kph, while new steering and stiffer suspension should make it more fun to drive. But of course these aren’t the big issues for a lot of EV buyers, and the plethora of tech on offer with Leaf mk2 ought to please them more.

There’s lots of automated stuff – the car will keep itself in lane and do your braking and acceleration in traffic - and there’s a fully automatic parking system, one which doesn’t need you to use the pedal. By the time Leaf mk3 comes along this one may be very close to being allowed to drive itself, without its ProPilot tech being sold as ‘driver assistance’.

The Leaf also comes with something called ‘e-pedal’, which is Nissan speak for one-pedal operation. The BMW i3 already does this, but it essentially means you can forget the brake pedal and only use the throttle; the car will slow right to a stop when you lift off, and the car will even hold you on a hill until you touch the throttle again. Nissan reckons you’ll be able to do 90 per cent of your driving with one pedal alone.

There’s a new smartphone app to keep an eye on your charge and find EV charging stations, TFT instruments and even the ability to power your home with excess charge in the Leaf, or even sell it back to the grid. Chances are you’ll want to keep it, though, as a full charge will still take all night. You can do an 80 per cent quick charge in 40 minutes, mind.

Leaf mk2 is a little bigger than before – somewhere between a Qashqai and X-Trail in length – and with all that extra tech, will probably cost a little more too. European sales start in January, so we’ll know for sure then. Either way, Nissan says a more powerful Leaf with a longer range will follow it later in 2018.

Nissan has a tough task on its hands – the old Leaf is the biggest selling electric car ever, with 283,000 shifted since 2010. Reckon it’s done enough to make this one bigger selling still?

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