What’s the best EV for importing to the UK? | Top Gear
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What’s the best EV for importing to the UK?

The Nissan Sakura is a nifty little Japanese kei car they don’t want to share

Published: 27 Jul 2022

There are very few car markets around the world when you can gaze over from the lofty vantage point of the fair British isles and not feel a smug sense of superiority. Cars that look vaguely familiar but unsettlingly wrong, like the Volkswagen Gol that’s been on sale in Brazil since 2008 and uses the same platform from the MkI Skoda Fabia and Audi A2. 

Or perhaps the Ford Escort that’s on sale in the Chinese market and uses the underpinnings from the second generation of Focus that went off sale in 2010. A car that has the generic look of a celebrity wearing a cap and sunglasses to try and keep under the radar. 

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We certainly don’t look towards the USA and feel jealous of the endless binary options of dull saloons or bloated pick-up trucks, though perhaps we might envy the large capacity engines and cheap petrol prices. 

There’s maybe one car market that awakes a certain longing in the heart of a car enthusiast, and that’s Japan. Is it a coincidence that they also drive on the left over there? Perhaps not. And the desire to get your hands on a Japanese car extends to the quirkiness of the cars available – odd little designs, idiosyncratic styling or interesting tech. The notion of the kei car, city vehicles designed to very strict regulations for jam packed urban environments. 

We’ve got the likes of the Smart Fortwo or the new Citroen Ami, but an electric kei car would be the perfect addition to a city bound driver’s repertoire.

All of which brings us on to the new Nissan Sakura, an all-new electric kei car that’s just gone on sale in Japan. It’s got a teeny little 20kWh battery, but thanks to its extremely low weight of 1,070kg it still manages a range of 112 miles on the Japanese WLTP cycle. 

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The car is full of interesting little details, like the fancy driver assistance software that never normally makes it down to such small cars, or the storage space inside, or even the charge port at the back of the car that actually lights up so you can charge at night. Take note, every single other EV manufacturer. Nissan says the Sakura can even power your house for a day using the latest vehicle-to-grid technology. 

Sure, there's only room for four people squashed inside and the boot is tiny, plus you'd never want to take it on any long journeys, but all these things are part of the kei car charm. 

The first generation of Toyota Prius never made it over to the UK initially – perhaps Toyota didn’t think that the UK was worthy of such a futuristic, velour-laden treat. The only way you could get your hands on one was to try and find an example that had fallen off the back of a boat.

Who knows, if enough people decide to take the plunge on shipping a Sakura or two over to England they might decide to pop the car on the official sales list. It would sure beat getting the bus to work. 

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Best EV for importing to the UK – Nissan Sakura
Price: £14,196
Range: 112 miles
Engine: 63bhp e-motor
Battery: 20kWh
Top speed: 81mph
0–62mph: Eventually
Boot space: 107 litres 
On sale in the UK: Never

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