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TG Garage: Nissan Leaf and VW e-Golf

Two mainstream EVs join the TG garage. Has the future arrived?

Image: Rowan Horncastle

These are not the first electric cars we have run in the TG Garage. Previously we’ve had a BMW i3, Renault’s Twizy and Zoe and a Tesla Model S. However – and here comes the crux – none of the first three had anything like the necessary range, and the last was a six-figure car. What the VW e-Golf and Nissan Leaf represent is a mainstream electric future: around £30k or £300 per month, and a range of at least 150 miles. So, to see how they stack up we’ve given them to the two people who live furthest from the office…

OM: How far is your commute? 

TH: 75 miles. If I plough straight through the middle of London. Which I don’t.

OM: Ouch, I thought my 62 miles was bad enough. Do you really think you can get into the office and back home without charging the Leaf?

TH: Well, those fancy new WLTP regs say it should do 168 miles. So it should be doable. Can always top it up at the office if needs be. But I have a more pressing issue – because the main body of my house was built before America was a thing, if I want a proper charge point installed, I need to have the main fuse upgraded. 

OM: I’ve a feeling that you and I are going to find ourselves at some godawful services, charging up and paying through the nose. 

TH: That’s a maybe but mine is the future. Or so Nissan claims. The Leaf is a bespoke EV, not a jumped-up hatchback with batteries where the engine ought to be. 

OM: No one knows what mine is, and I prefer that. It’s like a lovely surprise, the silence and the familiarity of it all. If the car industry is serious about getting people into electric cars, it’s no good giving them something they find alienating. And the driving position in the Leaf is alienating. 

TH: It’s terrible. The whole interior is pretty shonky actually. Nissan’s spent all its money on the tech, like the E-Pedal mode that turns it into a true one-pedal car where the brake pedal is for emergencies only. 

OM: Mine can’t do that, but I do have regen braking by pushing the gearlever side-to-side – three increasing levels and an extra strong B-for-Brake mode. Kind of wish this functionality was on paddles, like engine braking on downshifts, but I do enjoy the challenge of trying not to use the brake pedal. My best so far is 10 miles across town, country and A-road. 

TH: Electric cars do put you in a different mindset, don’t they? I reckon they make people better drivers. The Nissan has many ways to monitor how green you’ve been – I scroll through them using an app on my phone. What’s the Golf’s best trick?

OM: It’s a VW, it’s not one for tricks, but I am learning how to interpret miles per kWh into efficiency. That’s how exciting I’ve become while driving this car. But I do enjoy driving it, not just for the smoothness and silence, but for how spritely it is. 

TH: Mine too. And my charge point is easier to position – it’s right at the nose of the car, so I can just point at a charger, plug in and go. 

OM: And where are you charging while your house is unfit for purpose? Let me answer that – you have to make sure you get into the office first to commandeer a three-pin plug, don’t you?

TH: Well, yes…What time do you get up in the morning, by the way?

More from TG’s resident EVs soon. What do you want to know?

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