Nissan Leaf long-term test review

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...

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What Car? team
30 Aug 2018 8:31 | Last updated: 17 Sep 2018 15:53

  • 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 government grant) Price as tested £34,555 Miles covered 2866 Official range 168 miles (WLTP); 235 miles (NEDC) Real-world range 160 miles Options ProPilot Park (£1090), metallic paint (£575)


30 August 2018 – will I get home on this range?

The Leaf’s indicated range is proving to be a tad optimistic if any motorway driving is involved. Although it changes a bit after each recharge, depending on how the car has been driven previously, I’ve been regularly seeing between 160 and 170 miles in Eco mode (which adds about 10 miles to the range while dulling accelerator response somewhat), but a few longer runs have revealed that the realistic range is closer to 140 miles, depending on how close to flat you’re prepared to go.

The discrepancy was first noticed one weekend as I was heading down to West Sussex for a party at a country pub – a round trip of about 120 miles from south-west London. With a range of about 160 miles showing, I figured I’d have no trouble getting there and back without recharging. In the end, I made it, but it was much tighter than expected, with less than 20 miles showing when I got home later that night. The discrepancy has been similar every time I’ve done a longer trip with motorway or dual-carriageway sections. It isn’t a problem, but it does emphasise how much of a toll higher speeds take on the range.

Nissan Leaf long-term test review

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that visibility through the windscreen towards the left front corner of the Leaf is surprisingly poor. The high-mounted black panel containing the forward-facing cameras for the electronic driver aids doesn’t help, but the main culprit is the chunky rear-view mirror, which blocks a large section of the windscreen and makes seeing to the left at intersections remarkably awkward.

Having said that, the Leaf’s suitability for urban driving was brought into sharp focus again after I drove three new family SUVs with small petrol engines and manual gearboxes back to back. They were all perfectly decent, except that they were all relatively awkward to drive around town. Then I jumped back into the Leaf, with its torque-laden electric motor and no gears whatsoever, and the contrast could hardly have been more extreme.

Nissan Leaf long-term test review

Unlike most conventionally powered cars, the Leaf never hesitates when pulling away from traffic lights or out of a side road into the flow of traffic. You never have to wait for the engine to restart or the gearbox to make up its mind which gear is appropriate. With automatic hill hold provided by the electric motor, you’ll never find yourself accidentally rolling backwards on an incline, either. All told, the Leaf is pretty hard to beat when it comes to town driving.

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