Manual gearbox. A fresh engine. Bigger wing. Porsche’s best modern sports car is back
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£30,635 when new
If the Leaf’s slow sales are anything to go by, you lot aren’t convinced about pure EVs. Which is why the 2013 facelift is more about practical, real-world adjustments than driving home the futureland tech with radical styling. And it costs less, too. So, the money stuff. Nissan has introduced a three-tier range of trims - base Visia, Acenta and Tekna. But, wait, it gets sexier. Nissan’s new pricing structure means you can either buy the Leaf and battery outright, or buy the car and lease the battery. There are five deals based on annual mileages between 7,500 and 15,000 miles, and for 12, 24 or 36 months. Short trips and sign up for three years? Then the battery’s £70 month. Other deals could see you shelling out £109 a month. Prices vary from £15,990 to £25,490. Thing is, the cheapo is effectively the outgoing model with a new face, and doesn’t get the new pump-driven heating system that’s 70 per cent more efficient. To get the 25-mile range improvement to 129 miles, you need an Acenta. The £18,490 mid-ranger also lets you control the heating and charging remotely. As for the Tekna, it’s mainly luxo-fluff like parking cameras, LED headlamps and heated seats. There are some across-the-board improvements, which make the Leaf a more formidable companion. It’s 32kg lighter for a start - roughly the same as an ample German Shepherd. To whittle away the heft, it uses Nissan’s new E powertrain, and the charger has been moved from behind the rear seats to under the bonnet, so there are no heavy wiring harnesses running through. The relocation also means there’s 50mm more rear legroom and bootspace is up 40 litres. Then there’s the driving. It’s not really any faster (top speed’s actually 0.6mph down; the 0-62mph sprint reduced by 0.4secs), but it feels less encumbered, cornering with less wallow. Body roll is better managed, and the heavier steering increases confidence.
But there are still two major issues: charge time and range. Yes, it goes a bit further, and you can option a 6.6kW charger, which could halve recharging to four hours (providing you have a 32-amp charge point). But if you’re using it for any more than short, city blats, there isn’t yet the infrastructure or technology to fully support it, regardless of the improvements.