The Nissan’s electric motor is smooth and powerful
All of the electric motor’s torque is available right from a standstill, so as soon as you push the accelerator the Leaf pulls hard. Pick-up is just as strong on the move, and that makes it exceedingly punchy and easy to drive.Both models offer the same claimed 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds, which doesn’t look that impressive, but believe us, the Leaf feels much faster than that. You don’t have to deal with changing gears either; you simply put the Leaf into ‘drive’ and off you go. There’s also a ‘B-mode’ in higher-specification versions that increases the amount of energy recovered from the brakes, also making the car slow down more aggressively when you lift off the accelerator. It’s ideal for maximising your range, and helpful for controlling your speed down steep hills.
All versions of the Leaf get the same electric motor, but the 24kWh and 30kWh battery packs offer different ranges. In theory the 24kWh will do 124 miles, but in real world driving this will be more like 70 to 80 miles, while the 30kWh battery’s claimed 155-mile range equates to a more realistic 100 to 120 miles.
Nissan Leaf ride comfort
Relaxed and comfortable on all but the roughest surfaces
This Nissan Leaf is a very comfortable car to drive, thanks to soft, soothing suspension. Compared with conventional hatchbacks it rides very well. The downside is that bigger bumps and potholes can unsettle it, but not by enough to make you uncomfortable.
It might be designed more for use in cities but it copes well on the motorways, too, and feels stable, secure and relaxing. Tekna versions of the Leaf come with 17in alloy wheels, as opposed to the 16-inch steel and alloy versions offered in the other trim levels. If you want the smoothest ride we’d suggest going with the 16in options, which also benefit from cheaper tyres. The performance remains the same with either wheel option, though.
Nissan Leaf handling
Safe and composed but not particularly exciting
Its strange (well, instantaneous and smooth) power delivery aside, the Leaf is a pretty conventional car to drive. It feels like any other conventional hatchback, which is by no means a bad thing.
The steering has just about the right weight in town, which makes manoeuvres and parking easy. It’s secure in corners and at speed, and there’s plenty of front-end grip, all of which makes it feel safe and predictable. The Volkswagen e-Golf is more capable and entertaining to drive, though.
Nissan Leaf refinement
Virtually silent and incredibly smooth
Refinement is another advantage of electric power – aside from a faint whirr when you pull away, you won’t hear a peep from the Nissan’s motor. There’s some wind and road noise as speeds rise, but you notice it only because there’s nothing else invading your eardrums. At all speeds, the Leaf is a quiet place to be.
The Leaf is equally refined elsewhere. Electric motors spin fast, so the gearbox only needs one gear, so there are no lulls in the Leaf’s power delivery. Put your foot down and everything happens in a smooth fashion, which helps make the Leaf even more relaxing to drive.
There’s only one motor option and, regardless of which version you choose, performance is claimed to remain the same. The difference is the smaller 24kWh battery gives a theoretical range of 124 miles, which in the real world is nearer 70 to 80 miles.
It’s no faster or quicker than the cheaper 24kWh version, but this battery will last longer – Nissan claims up to 155 miles, though in normal use this will be more like 100 to 120 miles. The 30kWh battery is not available on the entry-level Visia trim.