Let’s face it: however much you care about the environment, you probably won’t buy an electric car unless it saves you money. Well, good news if you’re a company car driver, because the Leaf qualifies for the lowest band of benefit-in-kind tax.
What does that mean if you aren’t up on your accountancy? Well, it means that over the next three years you’ll sacrifice roughly the same amount of your salary as if you’d plumped for a middle-of-the-range Volkswagen Polo – slightly more than you’d pay for a Renault Zoe but less than you'd pay for a VW e-Golf.
But the savings don’t end there, because you’ll be spending a lot less on fuel than you would in any petrol or diesel car. Even based on our cold weather range tests and an electricity price of 13p per kWh, the Leaf will only add between around and £450 to your electricity bill every 10,000 miles. Sign up to an Economy 7 tariff for cheaper charging at night and you’ll pay around 8p (or even less) per kWh.
However, if you’re buying privately with cash or on PCP finance, you’ll need to do a lot of miles before the Leaf starts to pay for itself. Even taking into account the £4500 grant from the government you’ll get when buying, and the fact that you won’t pay any road tax, a small petrol hatchback is still likely to work out a much cheaper option in the long run. The exception is if you regularly drive into London’s Congestion Charge Zone, because you’ll avoid the hefty daily fee.
The Leaf uses the same Type 2 connector for normal charging as most of its rivals. However, unlike the Zoe and e-Golf, there’s also a CHAdeMO connector for fast charging. Charging at home from a 7kW wallbox will take around eight hours, although you can charge to 80% from a 50kW CHAdeMO charger in about 40 minutes.
Nissan Leaf equipment
Go for our preferred N-Connecta trim and you’ll get lots of standard luxuries, including adaptive cruise control, part-leather and heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, electric folding door mirrors, keyless entry and a heat pump for more efficient heating of the interior.
Acenta trim is one rung down the trim ladder and worth a look, too – although you do forgo heated seats, a heated steering wheel, electric folding door mirrors and that handy bird’s-eye camera.
Visia trim is rather spartan, while range-topping Tekna is too pricey to really recommend, although that does come with full leather seats and a basic autonomous driving function that can take care of the steering in certain situations (such as motorway driving) while keeping you a set distance from the car in front.
Nissan Leaf reliability
The previous-generation Leaf proved thoroughly dependable, dispelling any notion that new technology is bound to be full of glitches. In our latest reliability survey, owners reported fewer faults per 100 cars than for the Zoe, BMW i3 or Tesla Model S.
Overall, Nissan as a brand actually did very badly in the survey, finishing near the bottom of the league table. However, the company’s petrol and diesel-powered models were to blame for this.
Nissan Leaf safety & security
All versions of the Leaf come with automatic emergency braking as standard, along with lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The latter will warn you about passing cars when you’re reversing out on to a busy road.
With all that preventative safety tech, along with six airbags to keep you safe if you are unlucky enough to hit something, it is highly likely that the Leaf will be awarded high marks for safety by Euro NCAP. Results are expected to be published in early 2018.
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