The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
You sit quite high up in the Leaf, almost as if you were driving an MPV. You’ll either like that or you won’t, but the fact that the steering wheel moves only up and down only (not in and out) is a big issue; it means there’s a good chance that you'll be forced to sit closer to, or farther away from, the wheel than you’d ideally like. It's a far cry from the Mini Electric's comfortable and infinitely tuneable driving position.
The dashboard is mostly user-friendly, and there are simple, physical buttons to operate all the major controls, rather than the silly touch-sensitive interfaces you'll find in some rivals, including the Volkswagen ID.3.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
You won’t have any issues seeing the road ahead, but the chunky windscreen pillars can block your view diagonally at junctions and roundabouts. Over-the-shoulder visibility could be better, too, although you do get a reversing camera as standard, even with entry-level Acenta trim.
N-Connecta and Tekna trims add a 360-degree camera that displays a bird’s eye view of the car on the central touchscreen to make parking easier. These trims also come with front and rear parking sensors.
The Leaf’s standard halogen headlights are acceptable but not brilliant, so it’s worth upgrading to the more powerful LED units if you can. These are a reasonably priced option on N-Connecta trim and come as standard on Tekna models.
Sat nav and infotainment
Every Leaf comes with an 8.0in touchscreen that’s reasonably simple to use, thanks to its logical operating system. Being a touchscreen, it's not as easy to use while you're driving as the BMW i3's or Mini's iDrive rotary controller, but the physical shortcut buttons that flank the display make it easy to hop between functions. We’re also grateful that Nissan hasn’t bowed to the latest trend and swapped the volume knob for a fiddly touch-sensitive pad.
The resolution of the touchscreen is disappointing, though. It is nowhere near as sharp as the Kia e-Niro's, and it can be tricky to see in bright, sunny conditions.
All trim levels come with sat-nav, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. The standard stereo has six speakers, with Tekna and e+ Tekna boasting an upgraded Bose stereo with a subwoofer in the boot, although its sound quality isn’t as amazing as you might imagine. The Nissan smartphone app lets you check things remotely, such as the Leaf's battery charge, or you can switch on the climate control in advance of getting in.
The Leaf’s interior isn't great by current electric car standards. The Renault Zoe has a more appealing mix of materials, especially on the higher-end trims, while the e-Niro feels sturdier and has nicer-feeling switches and knobs.
However, it's when you get into the Peugeot e-208 that you realise how far behind the Leaf's interior has fallen, while the i3 and Mini Electric lead the way in terms of plushness and construction integrity.
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