Our cars: Nissan Leaf - March

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Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

Week ending March 30
Mileage 3727
Driven this week: 104 miles

Nissan Leaf review

We’ve already discovered that sub-zero temperatures have a big effect on the battery range that you can expect from the Nissan Leaf – but the opposite is also true…

The other day I climbed into it after the car had spent a morning basking in spring sunshine and the range read 118 miles. None of us can remember when the meter promised such a generous distance before a recharge was needed. Admittedly, by the time I’d traveled two miles from the office it was down to 106 miles, but that’s still impressive when you’d expect a 90-mile range even when all the stars are aligned.

In other news, I’m still calling on the Nissan quite a lot for town driving. The silence of the electric motor, the car’s ability to absorb urban bumps and fantastic cabin comfort make it a really luxurious runabout. Not to mention a cheap one.

Chas Hallett

Week ending March 23
Mileage 3623 miles
Driven this week 52 miles

Nissan Leaf review

Our long-term Leaf is just over 12 months old, which means it’s just had its first service.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘why does a car with no oil or cooling system need servicing?’.

Well, it turns out there are still plenty of things that need checking over, including the brakes, the charging system and all the airbags. Only selected Nissan dealers are equipped to service the Leaf, so after a few phone calls I booked in it at Beadles in Eltham.

Eltham is 49 miles away from the What Car? office in Teddington, so getting the Leaf there on a single charge wasn’t a problem. However, getting it back was a bit nail-biting, because the dealership used a 30-minute fast-charging system, which only topped the battery up to 80%.
After cruising at no more than 60mph on the motorway, we eventually made it back with 15 miles to spare.

The total price came to £110, which – apart from £1.70 on screenwash – was exclusively for labour. That’s quite a bit less than you’d expect to spend servicing a petrol or a diesel car, and we also received a print-out detailing the health of the battery, which apparently is still in very good condition.


Week ending March 16
Mileage 3571 miles
Driven this week 62 miles

After going out for a meal, I drove a couple of friends home in our Nissan Leaf. At no point did anyone say, 'Why are you driving an electric car?' I had the usual, ‘this is nice, what is it?’ comments, but nothing about the gentle whine, general quietness or how it worked.

Just before they got out, I explained that the Leaf was electric and had no engine, just batteries and motor. They genuinely couldn’t believe it, but were also surprised that the car didn’t look more futuristic.

Personally, I think Nissan did a decent job styling the Leaf. It sticks out a bit in the car park, but without looking ludicrous. However, I’d say that there’s definitely a desire among non-owners to see something that looks a bit more obviously ‘special’ – like the first iPhone, for example.

The workplace charging seems to work well for me (I park on the street at home), and I regularly arrive back at work in the mornings with 35-40 miles of range left, which means it takes less time to ‘top up’.


Nissan Leaf

Week ending March 9
Mileage 3509 miles
Driven this week 62 miles

Nissan Leaf review

I’ve been in the Leaf for a few short journeys this week and, much as I like the car, there’s one thing about it that’s bugging me.

I wouldn’t say I have a particularly odd driving position, but I do have the steering wheel fairly high up. Unfortunately, that means the top of the steering wheel is right in my line of sight for the speed readout. That’s a bit of a problem, since I either have to lower the wheel (which I find uncomfortable) or peer over the top every few seconds (which is equally inconvenient).


Week ending March 2
Mileage: 3447
Driven this week: 66 miles

Worrying that, in our anxiety over its range we’ve been too gentle with our Leaf, I resolved to drive it as hard as I could on my four-mile commute. How would the Leaf respond to the lead-footed, ham-fisted driver?

For the first mile, I floored the accelerator at every opportunity, and thumped on the brakes to slow it all down again – noting the car’s instant torque, and rather odd-feeling brake pedal. For the second mile, I stuck to the 20mph speed limit all the way through the local park. The third mile passed at an even slower rate – in stop-start traffic – but for the final mile of clear roads I reverted back to full-throttle urban thuggery.

The result? The Leaf proved surprisingly entertaining, thanks to its sharp steering and linear low-speed acceleration, but the real surprise was the range indicator. When I left the office car park it read 69 miles – and when I arrived home it read 71. This was more remarkable when you consider I was using the lights, heater and radio, and even carrying a passenger for that first mile.

The following day I repeated the experiment, with the same result. Perhaps it’s not so surprising: slow, stop-start traffic is where the Leaf is most efficient, because every time you lift the accelerator pedal, energy is fed back into the electrical system.

It seems, then, that the Leaf reacts well to the occasional thrashing.


Our cars: Nissan Leaf - February


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