Nissan Leaf review
The second-generation Nissan Leaf is one of the more affordable and practical electric cars on the market, with both standard and long-range versions available
- Well priced
- Advanced driver assistance
- Decent real-world driving range
- Dated infotainment
- Only e+ has 100kW charging
- Driving position can be uncomfortable
|Model||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Leaf||168 miles||6hrs 30mins*||40mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
|Leaf e+||239 miles||10hrs||35mins (10-80%, 100kW)|
*with optional 6.6kW on-board charger
The Nissan Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric car and it’s not very hard to see why. With either a 40kWh battery for a 168-mile official electric range in the standard model, or a 62kWh battery for a 239-mile electric range in the 'e+' variant, there’s a version of this second-generation Leaf to suit every buyer, from the city commuter to the high-mileage motorway driver switching to an electric vehicle from a petrol or diesel car.
We consistently achieved 160 miles or more in the 40kWh model we lived with for six months, while our time in a Leaf e+ suggested 210 miles is easily achievable in varied driving thanks to its larger battery pack. And the e+ also gets faster charging, with the CHAdeMO port in its nose capable of topping up at 100kW, for a 10-80% replenishment (around 130 miles of additional range) in 35 minutes from a public charging station.
The 40kWh Leaf can charge at nearly 50kW, meaning the same process will take about 40 minutes. Home charging from a 7.4kW wallbox will take six-and-a-bit hours in the cheaper model, or 10 hours for the bigger-battery e+ version. Both offer composed and inoffensive – if not all that involving – handling, while the e+'s more powerful 212bhp electric motor (compared to the standard car's 146bhp) gives it a sprightly 6.9-second 0-62mph time – a second quicker than the entry-level model.
Putting the Leaf into 'B' mode increases the strength of the regenerative braking system, which recoups power as the car slows down. 'ECO' mode, meanwhile, increases the regenerative braking effect further and limits engine power to help you eke out even more miles from the battery.
The Leaf’s technology trump card is the 'E-Pedal'. When engaged, this optimises the regenerative braking to such an extent that it's almost possible to drive the car using the accelerator alone – just taking your foot off the pedal sees the car slowing down considerably, as if you'd hit the brakes. It takes a little getting used to, but is an impressive bit of kit.
That’s not the only standout feature, though. The Leaf can be specified with Nissan’s ProPilot self-driving technology. Standard on the Tekna trim and optional elsewhere, it's a ‘level two’ autonomous driving system, meaning it can can turn, steer and stop by itself. All you need to do is keep your hands on the steering wheel, ready to take control if you need to. The Leaf can even park itself.
In general, the Leaf drives well. It’s fast away from the lights, whichever model you pick. The steering is suitably light for around-town use, but is direct and gives confidence when you increase speed. The only fly in the ointment is an occasionally lumpy ride that can intrude on your otherwise serene about-town gliding, but it’s not bad enough to be a deal-breaker.
In all other respects, the Nissan is pretty conventional, which is part of its appeal. It has even been designed to look like a ‘normal’ car. The interior is conservative, and maybe a little low-rent when it comes to materials, but it’s sensibly laid out. There’s plenty of space for four inside, although as with most other cars of this size – electric or otherwise – fitting a fifth passenger is a bit of a squeeze. The boot is a good size for families.
Some other electric cars these days are more keenly priced than the Leaf, including the similarly-sized and SUV-like MG ZS EV, while the Peugeot e-2008 is also close to a high-spec Leaf in nature and pricing. Those buyers who don't need the boot space of the Leaf should also consider the smaller Renault ZOE or Peugeot e-208.
The real class leaders that the Leaf contends with are the impressive Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric, which we favour over the Leaf, but they have both seen price hikes in recent times. So, if you’re looking for the best electric family car, the Leaf isn’t it. But if you’re looking for the an accomplished all-rounder that you can put on your driveway tomorrow, the likeable and high-tech Nissan is a cracking option. For a more detailed look at the Leaf, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe second-generation Nissan Leaf is one of the more affordable and practical electric cars on the market, with both standard and long-range versions available
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Leaf does a good job of getting close to its claimed range figures, although more modern rivals are starting to go further
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Nissan Leaf is relatively affordable to buy and also one of the cheapest family hatchbacks to run
- 4Performance, motor & driveThe Nissan Leaf's very impressive performance on the road is marred only by slightly stiff suspension
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Nissan Leaf's interior is quite conventional in appearance and material quality is a little hit-and-miss
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityWe have few complaints about the amount of space inside the Nissan Leaf – for both passengers and luggage
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe Nissan Leaf has been proven to offer reliable and safe family transport across two generations so far
- 8Living with itWe spent six months running a Nissan Leaf in Tekna spec to get a thorough overview of what it's really like to own one of these pioneering electric cars