Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
After factoring in the government grant, the 40kWh version of the Leaf is one of the most affordable electric cars on sale, competing with the likes of the MG ZS EV and entry-level versions of the Renault Zoe. However, jumping up to the 62kWh e+ model hikes up the price considerable; it's costs a similar amount to the Kia e-Niro and Volkswagen ID.3, and not a whole lot less than an entry-level Tesla Model 3. If you're a company car driver, though, you'll be on to a winner: all electric cars have ultra-low benefit-in-kind tax rates, at least for the next few years. The potential fuel savings over a regular petrol or diesel car are enormous, too.
The Leaf uses a Type 2 cable to plug into a regular home charging point. Charging from 0-100% using a 7kW charger will take around 6.5hrs (40kW Leaf) or 10hrs (62kWh e+) However, there’s also a CHAdeMO connector for fast charging at up to 50kW, which will take the Leaf 40kWh from 10-80% in about 40mins, and the 62kWh e+ in about an hour – roughly the same time as the ID.3 takes.
The 62kWh e+ can also charge at up to 100kW, which drops the 10-80% charge time to about 35mins – but there isn't an awful lot of these charging points in the UK at the moment. Indeed, if you'll be doing lots of miles then Tesla's Supercharger network makes the most sense; it's prolific and more reliable than the multitude of different charging networks that every other brand of electric car has to operate from.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level Acenta trim is all most buyers will really need. It gives you 16in alloys, climate control, automatic lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and tonnes of safety kit, along with the sat-nav-equipped infotainment system we mentioned earlier. If you want heated seats or parking sensors, you can always add them as an option.
It's worth considering an upgrade to N-Connecta trim, though – this adds part-faux leather, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Tekna is too pricey to recommend, although it does add part-leather seats and a driver assistance system called Pro Pilot, which can take care of the steering in certain situations (such as when driving along a motorway) while keeping you a set distance from the car in front.
Nissan as a brand did very badly in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing near the bottom of the league table (27th out of 31 manufacturers). That was just above Renault and Tesla, but behind all the rest of the electric car manufacturers. Hyundai, Kia and Mini were among the better performers. However, the Leaf itself was found to be more dependable than an MG ZS EV.
The Leaf comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty for its 'standard components'; its electric drivetrain is covered for five years (also capped at 60,000 miles); the battery is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.
Safety and security
Every leaf comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection 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 onto a busy road.
In 2018 the Leaf attained a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP, but when you look at the details of its report you realise that there are issues. Hip and pelvic crash protection for adults wasn't great, and the report also found that neck and chest protection could be better. The MG ZS EV also makes adults susceptible to chest injures in a crash, but it offers better child protection than the Leaf. If you can afford it, one of the safest electric cars is the Tesla Model 3.
All models come with a Thatcham-approved alarm as standard.
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