Nissan Leaf long-term test

What's an electric car like when you live with it every day? We're running a Nissan Leaf for six months to find out...

Nissan Leaf long-termer charging
  • The car Nissan Leaf Tekna
  • Run by Allan Muir, managing editor
  • Why it’s here To see whether our 2018 Electric Car of the Year has advanced the cause of battery-powered vehicles at the affordable end of the market
  • Needs to Have a long enough range to make it usable for more than just short hops; be cheap to run; and be as comfortable and practical as any regular family hatchback

Price £32,890 (before £4500 Gov’t grant) Price as tested Price as tested £34,555 Miles covered 2430 Official range 168 miles (WLTP), 235 miles (NEDC) Real-world range 160 miles Options ProPilot Park £1090, metallic paint £575

1 August 2018 – range calculations

An indicated range of 160-170 miles might not sound like enough to give you complete freedom in an electric car such as our Nissan Leaf but I’m quickly discovering that the rapid charging infrastructure at motorway services and other locations along major routes is now good enough that longer runs can be relatively painless.

Once upon a time, I might have been deterred from attempting such trips by the prospect of having to wait for hours while the batteries recharge. But in reality, I won’t have to, because in those situations the Leaf is rarely likely to need a 0-100% charge. On most out-of-town trips – even ones of 200 miles or more – a strategic top-up from, say, 30-80% in 30 or 40 minutes will be enough to allow me to comfortably get home again. That I can handle.

Nissan Leaf long-term test review

To me, this quick-stop approach seems quite liberating. It not only reduces range anxiety (by not letting the battery pack get close to running empty) but also allows me to drive the Nissan Leaf at the speed I want to, comfortably keeping up with most other traffic on motorways, as opposed to chugging along at a snail’s pace, trying to eke out every last mile from each charge. It might backfire if I ever find that no charging bays are available, but that hasn’t been a problem yet.

The only downside of these pay-as-you-go rapid chargers is that they’re relatively expensive compared with recharging at home. A 40-minute top-up, adding about 80 miles to the Leaf’s range, will relieve you of roughly £7 – probably three times the cost of a full overnight charge at home. However, that figure still seems like a bargain compared with the cost of the petrol or diesel you’d use to cover the same distance.

Speaking of overnight charging, I’ve had a Chargemaster wallbox installed in my garage. Because the electricity supply to my house is shared with my neighbour, I had to make do with a 3kW wallbox rather than a faster 7kW one, but it’s still better than plugging the car into a domestic socket. It has its own tethered cable, too, so there’s no need to faff around with the one that comes with the car.

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