Our cars: Nissan Leaf - February

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Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

Week ending February 17
Mileage: 3290
Driven this week 130 miles

Nissan Leaf review

As the weather has suddenly got warmer, the Nissan Leaf’s range has improved and is back where it was at the end of last year. So unless we have more snow I shouldn’t get stuck on the way to work (see below).

I was worried that the cold weather might have permanently affected the range, so it’s a relief to find that I’m arriving back at the office with 25 miles left, just as I used to.

One things we haven’t tried is setting the heater timer to warm the the car while it’s still plugged in, which takes a big load off the batteries. That’s one to save up for another cold day.


Week ending February 10
Mileage: 3160
Driven this week: 143

I’ve commuted between work and home several times in our electric Nissan Leaf over the last few months. It’s ideally suited to the stop/start nature of town traffic. Combine this with a great ride, light steering, no gear changes, a quiet drivetrain and high-tech entertainment system that easily connects to your phone, and there’s not much you need to add to the package to get a great town car.

The one thing that is essential, however, is missing. We knew that cold weather would affect the performance of the car’s batteries, and could mean that you wouldn’t get the full range of the car, normally about 110 miles in eco mode.

That range isn’t a problem for my 45-mile daily commute. I simply plug it in at work when I arrive. Set off for home at the end of the day with it fully charged. Leave it parked on the street outside my house overnight, then hop in the following morning and drive to work, arriving with 40 or so miles of range still showing.

Last night it was a bit different. It’s not the first cold evening we’ve had, but it’s the first time I’ve driven the Leaf in the winter weather. I set off with a full charge, a range of 86 miles and odometer showing 3116 miles. By the time I’d got home, I’d travelled 21 miles (the odometer showed 3137 miles) but I only had 37 miles of range left for the return trip the following morning.

Still, I thought, it’s only 23 miles to work (I take a slightly different route in the morning, to avoid the traffic). But, about a mile short of work, the Leaf completely ran out of juice. I’d had a warning a few minutes before that the battery was low, but that’s not particularly unusual. This time it conked out having travelled 44 miles on a full charge. And that’s travelling through town, in its natural environment.

I managed to turn in to a housing development and called the electric vehicle assistance number on the back of the tax disc. No answer. In fact, I called it five more times over the next half hour before eventually getting through. That was at 10.53am. I gave my details and waited. An hour passed. Then another hour. After two hours and 45 mins the truck finally appeared, and a very pleasant man called Mick brought the car back to the car park.

I can’t see how I’d ever spend my money on a car that could only travel 44 miles on certain days of the year. Unless you think a car is just an expensive toy it’s difficult to see how anyone would.

Ed Keohane

Week ending February 3
Mileage: 3017
Driven this week: 197

Because the Leaf is unique compared with almost every other car on the road (for now, at least), it is easy to overlook some of the simple things that should be done well in any car.

Having driven the Leaf back from Brighton in bright, sunny conditions I couldn't believe how much glare the sunlight caused on its infotainment screen. Despite increasing the brightness of the display screen, I still couldn't read the sat-nav properly, and directions are important when coupled with range anxiety in an electric car.

Dan Alcock

Our cars: Nissan Leaf - January 2012


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