By Patrick James on 2019-12-21 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Nissan Leaf e+
RANGE has always been the factor that puts doubt into the mind of potential electric car buyers.
THE Nissa Leaf set the standard for electric cars, the Japanese car maker being the first to produce a five door family hatchback running fully on battery power back in 2010.
The first one I drove was a slightly odd-looking affair, with bulbous styling and a space age cockpit. It was fine, but with a projected range of around 80 miles, a bit of an unknown quantity.
It took it out one sunny winter's day for a 20-mile round trip, with just under 40 miles range showing.
That sunny day turned into rain and cold by early evening. So with the heater on, the wipers going and the lights on and plenty of angst, we limped home with one mile showing the range.
How things have moved on. The latest version is altogether different, with mainstream styling and comfort, but most importantly a range of nearly 250 miles thanks to a more powerful 62 kWh battery and other enhancements.
Prices start at just over £27,000 including the government electric vehicle subsidy, with this model £36,670.
It does look smart with sharp creases and angles, a high waistline and impressive-looking light clusters and alloy wheels, while the blue elements, such as the front grille and rear bumper's moulding, highlight the zero emission character of the car.
The interior too is less of a cockpit and more of a family saloon, with smart styling and high quality interior, part leather heated seats with blue stitching, bright chrome finish and gauges that don't make your brain ache.
One thing that does not change is the remarkable speed off the mark delivered via the 217ps e-powertrain. It has increased torque of 340Nm and whizzes the car to 60mph in just under seven seconds. You're in real hot hatch territory there. The only drawback is there is a tendency for wheelspin if you floor the pedal.
It also comes with a bewildering array of technology including what Nissan call intelligent mobility technology, which includes Pro Pilot, a semi-autonomous driving mode, which when selected keeps the car with lane markings and a safe distance from other cars in traffic. It will even start up again when stationary traffic moves.
Autonomous hands-off self parking is another feature as is switching to the e-Pedal. This enablesacceleration, deceleration and full stop with the simple increase or decrease of the pressure on the accelerator.
By releasing the accelerator, the car will decelerate and come to a complete stop, even hill holding, without the need to press the brake pedal.
The fuel gauge is replaced by a power and range meter while a large seven inch colour central touch screen controls connectivity, sat nav and infotainment.
In addition to standard navigation features it also includes real-time information on the nearest charge points. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available for enhanced connectivity.
All versions are well equipped with this model providing a whole host of goodies.
Fit and finish to the interior is impressive while the boot is spacious with 420 litres available. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats and luggage capacity increases to 1,161 litres.
The vehicle's low centre of gravity means the improved handling with the car sitting solidly on the road, even on winding country lanes.
The only real intrusion is road and wind noise, as the faint hum from the electric motor is drowned out.
As ever with electric cars, range and charging times are key concerns, and the bigger battery gives more peace of mind.
It can take up to 32 hours with the standard domestic plug, so the wallbox fitted for free, makes sense, while better infrastructure means there are more street charging points countrywide.
Yet another clever feature is that climate control can be set to activate at a particular time, warming the car up or cooling it down before beginning a journey while being charged, thus saving power when driving.
There is the usual full range of safety kit with six airbags, assisted braking, hill start, blind sot warning and with this model Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and cyclist Recognition.
Nissan Leaf e+ 3.Zero
Mechanical: 219ps and 62kWh electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 98mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 239 miles
Insurance Group: 21
C02 emissions: 0g/km
Bik rating: 0%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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