By on 2018-01-21 -
Nissan Leaf 2018 -
NISSAN has finally broken the taboo surrounding electric cars, dispelling the myth that they lack road-going performance, are too expensive and have no realistic range.
All these misnomers are now kicked into touch with the new five-door Leaf hatchback, on sale from early February, which can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and has 38 per cent more power than the previous model.
It also has a possible battery range of up to 258 miles and a recharging time of 40 to 60 minutes with standard on-board new technology that includes self-parking, sat nav and heated front seats.
To top it all, the new four model second generation Leaf range is cheaper by an average of £1,500.
The line up starts with the Visia model priced from £21,990, then the Acenta at £24,290, the N-Connecta (£25,990) and the range-topping Tekna which costs from £27,490.
All prices include the £4,500 government grant offered to the lowest emissions vehicles.
The new Leaf, made at Nissan's Sunderland factory, is said to have running costs of around 85 per cent less than an average petrol or diesel family car and is some 75 per cent cheaper to maintain particularly with no road tax to pay, no London Congestion Charge and free parking in some areas.
Nissan says it has listened to existing Leaf owners to make more than 100 changes in ways of improving the car and the crux of that, along with on-going development work at its Cranfield Research Centre in Bedfordshire, sees the new Leaf with 50 per cent more battery range, motor power up by 40 per cent and torque up 25 per cent.
The result is a family car that's far more practical and convenient than it was previously.
The new 40kWh lithium battery can be charged up at home with a new 7kW fast charging point and drivers will be able to get an 80 per cent charge in just 40 minutes from a 50kW fast charger.
It also remains a spacious five seater and has 435 litres of boot space, around the best in class.
To help the much improved driving distance there's now an ‘e-pedal' switch positioned near the gear selector which allows the driver to motor along using one pedal alone with regenerative braking sufficient to bring the car to a stop just by lifting off the accelerator.
It's certainly a new way of driving but it will quickly become second nature - and there's always the brake pedal if the driver needs it.
It's all clever stuff really and while there is still a distinctive EV whine when the driver accelerates once on the move it's much quieter. Nissan says that second generation Leaf is 30 per cent quieter than a modern internal combustion engine in a family car of equal size.
So what's it like to drive on normal roads?
For a start the Leaf's improved acceleration time of 0 to 62mph is 7.9 seconds is certainly impressive and it's nimble enough in normal drive mode, competent enough out on the motorway to keep up with the general speed of traffic - it has a top speed 89mph.
The power output is equivalent to 148bhp and with no emissions it has a tax banding of nine per cent for business users. The range topping Tekna model has an insurance group of 22 and comes with Nissan's three year/60,00mile warranty.
It really is an enjoyable car drive with the most noticeable feature once out on the road how quiet it is - even a little eerie.
Nissan has lowered the centre of gravity by 5mm which may not seem much but along with quicker responsive steering the new Leaf feels much lighter and sharper.
With a stiffer body it also feels safer when driving around bends at any decent speed and the car has been tuned for our kinds of roads.
Nissan has fitted the new Leaf with the same Intelligent Chassis Control system already used in the Qashqai and it pays off. Pitching is reduced and it copes exceptionally well with bumpy and uneven road surfaces.
The top spec models have what is called Nissan's ProPilot system where the car will steer, brake and accelerate on roads where it can detect road markings and the car in front.
With a system of 12 sonar sensors, five cameras and three radars it can also be used to self-park the car and control the autonomous emergency braking that will warn drivers of pedestrians. The system also enables blind spot monitoring and helps with the self-parking.
To help drivers get to grips with the complexities of electric driving, Nissan has promised that all its dealers will give thorough tuition to buyers before they set off down the road.
On the inside of the new Leaf there's still plenty of black plastic across the dashboard - a little austere in reality, certainly for a family car costing over Â£20,000.
There's an efficient navigation system with a seven-inch screen that can plan ourneys and also show charging locations.
Amongst the high tech equipment on board is Android Auto, Apple Car Play and a Bose sound system.
Overall, the new Leaf is a big step forward in the world all-electric family cars and it has a much-improved driving range making journeys of around 170 miles realistic in everyday use.
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