A BIGGER battery is being fitted to the Nissan Leaf and it gives Britain's top selling electric vehicle even more range.
The 62kWh power pack in the new Leaf e+ increases its single charge range to 239 miles - up from the 168 miles with the 40kWh battery used in the rest of the range.
It's also quicker with a 0 to 60 time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed increased from 89mph to almost 100mph which gives it quite a sporty feel.
Priced from £35,895 including the current £3,500 Government grant for low emission vehicles, the newcomer is available only in top grade Tekna trim and carries a premium of almost £5,000 over a similar specification 40kWh model.
Changes to the suspension - necessary to cope with the extra weight of the new battery pack - see the Leaf's overall height increased by 5mm but realistically there is no difference in ride.
The Leaf e+ tips the scales at 1.7 tonnes which is some 150kg more but it's unchanged in looks and practicality with a roomy interior and 420 litre boot. Folding rear seats increase cargo capacity to 1,160 litres.
Power output from the motor with the new battery is now 217ps and that's significantly more than the 150ps of the 40kWh set up.
Charging times however are now up to 11 hours 30 minutes for a full recharge from a home charging point or a fairly impractical 32 hours from a domestic supply - but that is rarely going to be the case in everyday use.
A fast charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent capacity takes 90 minutes which is more realistic but still not as quick as some other ‘long range' EVs from the likes of Kia and Hyundai.
Nevertheless, the new Leaf performs well and on a 50 mile run which included some motorway work the displayed available range decreased by only 37 miles and battery capacity reduced from 98 per cent at start to 80 by the end of the run.
Much of that was down to Nissan's E-Pedal and Eco modes which help save energy on the go and allow for single pedal driving with plenty of regeneration putting power back into the battery as soon as the accelerator is released.
Such is the braking from the system it is possible to bring the car to a rest without using the brake and around town it's a great feature for easy driving.
Disengaging the Eco mode livened up performance considerably but reduced the Leaf's range shown on the trip computer by some 12 miles.
The Leaf is also fitted with Nissan's ProPilot semi-autonomous drive system which can be used on normal roads as well as dual carriageways and motorways.
It works via a series of sensors including cameras to work out the car's position on the road and keep it in the right place, stopping and starting automatically.
We tried it under motorway conditions without issue although it still needs the driver to touch the steering wheel frequently to demonstrate a degree of human control as currently required by law.
And to ease operation, the system is engaged by a single push of a button on the steering wheel and switched off in similar fashion.
The new Leaf e+ also marks the introduction of some new features across the range which include upgrades to its connectivity for full smartphone integration, a larger eight-inch touchscreen and a TomTom Live navigation system that is programmed to show the nearest charging location and its state of readiness.
Nissan builds the Leaf at its UK factory in Sunderland and In the eight years since it has been on sale some 140,000 models have been produced.