Our cars: Nissan Leaf - December
Week ending December 23
Driven this week: 28 miles
When I drove the Leaf on a bitterly cold evening last week, I was disappointed with the amount of power it used, so I took it again when the weather was warmer to see if that improved things.
It didn't. On my 5.7-mile journey home, the predicted range dropped by 15 miles, and while the Leaf improved on this the following morning – when the temperature had risen further and I didn’t need to use the headlights – the range still fell by 11 miles.
Given that traffic was light and I never exceeded 30mph, these are awful figures. However, I would be interested in driving the car until the batteries are flat to see if its range continues to drop at the same rate. I plan to do this at our test track in the New Year.
Week ending December 16
Driven this week: 60 miles
I borrowed the Leaf to get home the other night and was very disappointed with the amount of energy it used.
When I got in it, the Leaf was fully charged and showing a 100-mile range, but despite me driving in Eco mode the whole time and leaving the air-con off, the range was down to just 69 miles at the end of my 14-mile journey.
At that rate of consumption, the Leaf would struggle to do 50 miles before it was out of juice. However, the cold weather probably didn’t help battery efficiency, and I can’t help wondering how accurate the range readout actually is.
Week ending December 9
Miles driven this week 60
I've driven the Leaf home a few times so far, but with a 40-mile round commute I've always driven the car in eco mode, to ensure I've got enough power to get me home and back.
Last night, however, our Leaf was fully charged with a 100-mile range so I threw caution to the wind and selected the normal driving mode for the journey home.
Wow! I never realised the Leaf was so much fun. Without the eco mode, which seems to throttle the life out of the car, acceleration is instant and strong.
Okay, the steering is little light, but with that instant power on tap it's a hoot to drive.
Week ending December 2
Miles driven this week 70
In theory the Leaf should fit my daily commute quite well: I live only 4 miles from What Car’s Teddington HQ, where we have a handy charging post in the car park.
Just as well it’s only 4 miles, though: my house is over 40ft from the road, across a common, and Nissan do not approve of extension leads (they’re a bit sniffy about domestic sockets too), so it seems charging at home is not an option for me.
Hoping to charge my family with enthusiasm for electric vehicles, I installed my wife and two daughters and went for a drive.
The Leaf’s impressive low-speed (and near silent) acceleration sparked a positive reaction, as did the brightness of the interior, which is big enough (just) to swallow children and shopping.
It’s hushed, civilised and well thought out, and it carries its bulk (it weighs about 200kg more than its closest rivals) low, so its road manners are good (though the regenerative brake pedal is difficult to modulate, and takes some getting used to).
They say the Leaf has a range of around 100 miles, but in practice this is a lot lower. When I picked the car up, the display told me we had 73 miles of driving in the bank; after 46 miles of mixed use that went down to just 4 miles, at which point I called enough, and returned the car to its charging point.
So, for my daily commute? Yes, maybe. For anything else? Probably not.