2019 Nissan Leaf e+ review: price, specs and release date
To keep up in the electric car arms race, the Nissan Leaf gets more range, thanks to a larger-capacity battery. Does this make the e+ more appealing than the regular model?...
Priced from £39,395 (before £3500 gov. grant) Release date Now
Electric cars, such as the new Nissan Leaf e+, may not be the panacea for the crisis of climate change, but they can certainly help, even if only on a local level, to clean up the air in our cities. It’s a good job, then, that we’re in the midst of an electric car arms race.
What do we mean by that? It’s all about range. Just five years ago, tackling the London-to-Brighton run in a Kia Soul EV would’ve been pushing it. Then along came Tesla and simply blew away the mainstream manufacturers with the ever-increasing range of its Model S. And now they're catching up – fast.
The Kia e-Niro, our 2019 Car of the Year, is capable of covering around 280 miles between charges, according to the official WLTP test, as is its sister car, the Hyundai Kona Electric. So, despite having been launched only last February, the regular Leaf's official range of 168 miles now looks feeble. The Leaf e+ increases it to a claimed 239 miles, thanks to a bigger battery – 62kWh over 40kWh.
2019 Nissan Leaf e+ 62kWh Tekna on the road
Are you harbouring the thought that electric cars are a bit leisurely? If so, you’ll be surprised by just how determinedly they pull away. With 214bhp, the Leaf e+ is 66bhp more powerful than the standard Leaf, so it's as quick off the line as the e-Niro. If you keep the accelerator pinned between 30 and 50mph, you have to hang onto the steering wheel to stop the car jinking left and right as its front wheels struggle to maintain grip.
Sadly, this is largely where the plus points end. While you’d think the e+ would handle and ride similarly to the regular Leaf, there are actually key differences.
The suspension has been raised and stiffened to help deal with the extra 90kg brought about by the bigger battery; that’s a lot of extra weight, and the first thing you notice is that the car leans more through corners. It feels noticeably less stable than the e-Niro, which isn’t exactly the nimblest of cars itself.
At least the steering maintains its intuitive and predictable nature, whether you’re trying to keep straight on a free-flowing motorway or cutting cross-country to avoid another delay.
Then there’s the ride. The regular Leaf isn’t a match for the supple Volkswagen e-Golf, but it’s reasonably soft and forgiving nevertheless. However, the suspension of the e+ seems unable to control its extra mass over undulations, the result being that at speed, even on relatively smooth stretches of road, it’s like sitting astride a mechanical bull set to beginner: you’re not going to fall out of the seat, but you're rocked continually this way and that. At least the ride isn’t overtly abrupt over divots or dents at urban speeds.
Without a combustion engine creating a hullabaloo, the Leaf is also quiet around town. The remote-feeling brake pedal can make it tricky to stop gracefully, but wind noise at speed is the car's worst trait. At least you won’t hear much in the way of road noise.
The e+'s bigger battery obviously means it takes longer to charge; it needs 90 minutes to get from 20-80% using a 50kW public rapid charger, rather than the hour of the regular Leaf.
It’s also worth pointing out that the CSS chargers used by the e-Niro and Kona Electric are quicker and more common than the Leaf's Chademo plugs. The e+ can take a faster charging rate, of up to 100kW, however, from the latest generation of rapid chargers that are now being rolled out at service stations across the UK.
2019 Nissan Leaf e+ 62kWh Tekna interior
The e+ comes only in top-spec Tekna trim, so it’s very well equipped, including LED headlights, leather-and-suede seats, tinted glass, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. It also gets Nissan's ProPilot system, which enables the Leaf to assist its driver with steering, accelerating and braking on the motorway.
The infotainment suite is also comprehensively equipped, including an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (although the former froze several times in our test car), but the systems of the e-Niro and Kona Electric are better, not least because they have more intuitive menus.
The Leaf has room for a family of four, but head room in the rear isn’t great for people more than 6ft tall. And while the boot is a decent size, the Bose sound system you get as standard in the e+ includes a subwoofer awkwardly bolted onto the floor.
Other common issues to all Leafs, not just the e+, include the flawed driving position, which feels too high and has no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and so-so interior quality; a few iffy materials and a wobbly centre console let the side down.
For a more detailed account of the Leaf range, head to our main review.
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