Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna

 Nissan Leaf, front static
 Nissan Leaf, front action
 Nissan Leaf, front action 2
 Nissan Leaf, side action
 Nissan Leaf, side static
 Nissan Leaf, charge ports
 Nissan Leaf, rear static
 Nissan Leaf, rear action
 Nissan Leaf, dashboard

TWENTY miles without touching the brakes. Easy-peasy on an empty motorway but more of a challenge when there's a van heading for you on the wrong side of a village street.

But the Nissan Leaf came to a smoothly controlled halt in double time without the merest thought of applying the brakes and Transit man continued on his way, untroubled.

The DIY slowing down came courtesy of something called the e-Pedal, which means the car's electric motor turns into a generator when you lift off the accelerator, helping slow the car and pump a bit of current back into the batteries sitting below your seat.

Every electric car does this to some extent but the Nissan system goes further and will bring the car to a stop. Some people don't like it (and can use the brake pedal instead) others bond with the idea immediately. Count me in.

This clever one-pedal progress (no clutch either in the auto geared Leaf) is a standout feature of this latest version of Nissan's pure electric family car, which also goes further on a charge than before in this e-Pedal version.

You'll manage up to an official 168 miles in the Leaf with the existing smaller battery but this latest version promises up to 239 miles between full and charge-me-now thanks to a battery upgraded from 40kWh to 62kWh but not taking up more room in the car and not impinging on passenger space.

There is, you've guessed, a cost to this mileage upgrade. You can have a lesser-mileage Leaf in Acenta trim for £27,995 after the £3,500 government electric vehicle grant is included. The e+ Tekna version with extended range costs £35,895 (including grant), so this becomes a significantly expensive machine.

It does, though, bring significantly improved performance too, thanks to a more powerful electric motor. Top speed may be limited to less than 100mph in the interest of stretching mileage but this range topping Leaf will sizzle to 62mph in 7.3 seconds.

That's spritely in anyone's language and, thanks to the way electric motors produce maximum power from rest, transforms this hatchback with a family feel into a powerful performer in a traffic light grand prix.

Drive it like that and the thought of 239 miles to zero power will vanish as rapidly as the hot hatch you left for dead at the lights; take things more easily and you'll go much further.

Even with the headlights on, wipers working hard and heating and air con keeping the windscreen clear in the mother of downpours, the Leaf you're reading about managed 20 actual miles with the loss of 23 miles of charge, according to the clear dash readout.

Charging the Leaf e+ from a domestic socket takes an endless 32 hours to full but an easily installed 7kW wallbox cuts that to 11hrs 30mins. That means a Leaf that still has some charge in its batteries will be nicely full as it sits charging in the garage overnight.

FAST FACTS

Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna

Price: £35,895 (inc. £3,500 government grant)

Mechanical: 214bhp electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 97mph

0-62mph: 7.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 239 miles per full charge

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 0%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles (battery 8yrs/100,000 miles)

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