Braking the mould

with new Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf, 2018, side, action
Nissan Leaf, 2018, front, action
Nissan Leaf, 2018, front
Nissan Leaf, 2018, front, static
Nissan Leaf, 2018, rear, action
Nissan Leaf, 2018, rear
Nissan Leaf, 2018, rear, static
Nissan Leaf, 2018, interior
Nissan Leaf, 2018, motor
Nissan Leaf, 2018, charging
Nissan Leaf, 2018, charging socket
Nissan Leaf, 2018, rear seats
Nissan Leaf, 2018, e-pedal switch
Nissan Leaf, 2018, front, upright
Nissan Leaf, 2018, badge

WHEN it comes to keeping things simple Nissan is 'leafing' the competition behind.

Rather than having to use a brake and accelerator to drive the new Nissan Leaf you only have to use one pedal.

Press the accelerator to increase speed, take your foot off to brake.

Of course there is a brake pedal for life's little emergencies but in reality you can drive the Leaf for 95 per cent of the time using just the accelerator, all you need to do is anticipate a little earlier when you are going to need to slow down.

If you don't want to use the system you simply don't activate the e-pedal button, but having tried it over more than 200 miles as both a driver and passenger I can't believe that many Leaf buyers won't be smitten.

The latest generation of the all electric car now has an average range of 168 miles of mixed road motoring or 250 miles of city work.

In effect that's around 47 per cent more range than the old model thanks to improvements in technology and the fitting of a 40kWh battery instead of the old 30kWh one.

The second generation Leaf, which is made at Nissan's Sunderland factory, went on sale in February and prices range from £21,990 for the entry level Visia model up to £27,499 for the top-of-the-range Tekna. Those prices include a £4,500 government grant.

And good as the old model was the new one is in a different league, which probably explains why since the on-sale date more than 20,000 cars have already been ordered across Europe.

Improvements include better soundproofing - which makes the new model 30 per cent quieter than the Mk1 - and increased power (up 40 per cent) and torque (up 25 per cent).

Now with a 0-62 miles per hour acceleration time of a very lively 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 89.5 mph the 150 bhp newcomer is certain to expand its appeal to drivers who previously would never have considered an electric vehicle.

Add to that charges of just £99 for the first 18,000-mile service and £149 for the second - coupled with no road tax - and it's easy to see the car's appeal.

Sit in the Leaf and the first thing that really strikes you is the space.

This is not a small car and the roof height means generous head room while rear seat passengers have ample space to be able to stretch their legs There‘s also a generous 435 litre boot increasing to 1,176 litres with the rear seatbacks folded.

The model I drove had a very upmarket feel, with stylish leather and Alcantara seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and satellite navigation.

A stiffer body and the lowering of the vehicle's centre of gravity by 5mm means the car now handles better, with a completely flat ride which allows you to push on at speed no matter how twisty the road without any nasty surprises.

After several hours behind the wheel it's certainly a car I warmed to.

The Leaf is now also available with ProPilot which helps keep you within the white lines of the carriageway, ensures you stay a set distance from the car in front and evens parks the car for you if you are one of those people who struggles with parking bays or on street parking.

For most people, however, one of the biggest considerations is charging times.

And while charging the Leaf using a conventional three-pin plug will take a less than impressive 21 hours most buyers will opt to have a 7Kw wall box fitted at their home - with Nissan covering the installation cost - which reduces the time to a sensible seven and a half hours.

For most buyers that's a simple overnight charge ready to take to the road again the next day.

Use one of the new breed of 50Kw quick charging points that are springing up all over the country and you can charge your new Leaf to 80 per cent of its capacity in just 40-60 minutes - and that for me is a more than reasonable time to help save the thousands of pounds that most of us spend on petrol or diesel every year.

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