Our cars: Nissan Leaf - May
Week ending May 25
Driven this week: 166 miles
Nissan Leaf review
Every month, I give over one Sunday to charity work for the Wandle Trust, an environmental charity dedicated to restoring and maintaining the health of South London's River Wandle (www.wandletrust.org).
It seemed entirely appropriate to drive a zero-emission car such as the Nissan Leaf to one of the Trust’s monthly community clean-ups, when we spend a day pulling all manner of rubbish – from shopping trolleys to carpets and so on – from the river.
The Trust members were certainly intrigued by the silent car and impressed by its environmental credentials.
I, too, had been impressed on my reacquaintance with the Leaf after a few weeks in other cars.
As ever, I found it a tremendously easy and soothing car to get me through the sprawl of South West London – especially with the sat-nav guiding me through some of the least well-known (by me!) parts of the capital to reach Culvers Island.
Mind you, it was only easy because I’d moved house. Happily, I have discovered that I can run the Leaf’s charging lead through my garage and under the locked door to charge the car overnight on my drive – a godsend when problems with the charging post at work meant I had just 14 miles’ range left when I arrived home on Friday evening!
Week ending May 18
Driven this week: 56 miles
It's tempting to floor the accelerator in the Leaf because delivery of the electric power is instantaneous. This makes it a fun car to zip around in, but earlier this week I decided to adopt a more economical driving style on my commute.
Covering about 30 miles of motorway and dual carriageway, I kept at or just under the speed limit and it struck me that I never overtook a single vehicle.
In fact, the opposite happened; almost every car around me was going faster than the speed limit – whether in 40, 50, 60 or 70mph zones.
The average price of a litre is diesel is currently 143.49p, and I can imagine there are few people who are happy to pay that. However, many people are happy to sit at 85mph on the motorway and, as our True MPG figures show, that's a sure-fire way to plunging fuel economy.
Have a go yourself – make a conscious effort to drive just below the speed limit, be aware of the speeds of the traffic around you and let me know how you get on.
Week ending May 11
Driven this week: 30 miles
As emotions go, fear is probably not the first one you’d expect to feel when starting up a £26,000 car. However, that was what confronted me in the Nissan Leaf after I climbed in on a rainy Friday afternoon about to head home with my youngest son in the back.
When we’d left home, the available range left on the battery registered 19 miles. My trip was less than five miles each way, so I felt comfortable that I’d make it home for a charge. Imagine my eye-popping amazement when, on starting up for the return journey the mileage had slumped to 10. I started to worry.
As my journey unfolded, the range continued to drop at an alarming rate. By the time I pulled up outside my garage, the dashboard was flashing and I had less than four miles of journey time left. For a trip of less than 10 miles the Leaf had used 15 miles of battery power – a 50% inaccuracy.
From this moment on, the Leaf became a challenge. I live in the wilds of Teddington, where there are few places to charge. Over the weekend, we certainly wouldn’t be spending enough time in any one place for the Leaf to get a decent charge.
The experience of the disappearing range also raised made me ask what would have happened had I found heavy traffic or taken a wrong turn? Would this have left me stranded on the Kingston one-way system, an example to all petrolheads to stay that way?
It’s a real shame, because the Leaf was great to drive. Unfortunately, there’s just too much forward planning involved in getting behind the wheel.