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LEAF is an electric delight

Created on 02/09/2018 @ 09:04

Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Electric cars are not just the future, they’re here now, and that’s hard to take for a lover of the internal combustion engine.

And the second-generation Nissan LEAF is without a doubt the best option I’ve driven - little wonder it’s the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe for the first half of 2018.

More than 18,000 new Nissan LEAF vehicles were registered in Europe between January and June and European customers have now placed more than 37,000 orders for the new LEAF since it first went on sale in October 2017.

The challenge facing the UK remains the lack of charging points and for the rural driver that’s a real problem if you want to put more than just a few miles on the clock.

News that Shell and BP are adding rapid charging points at all its UK petrol stations is the latest sign of the oil giants adapting to the dramatic growth in battery power and the move can’t come soon enough for manufacturers like Nissan.

The new Nissan LEAF is surprisingly good. It’s like no other electric-powered model I have driven, offering a top speed of 90mph and able to accelerate to 62mph in only 7.9seconds – and all silently of course.

Nissan claim the new car’s larger, 40 kilowatt-hour, battery delivers a combined driving cycle range of 168 miles under Europe’s new WLTP emissions and economy standard. But the model on test only registered 150miles available when fully charged and I wasn’t taking any chances with the lack of charging points available.

It features a host of new, innovative technologies such as Nissan ProPILOT, ProPILOT Park and e-Pedal, which are proving popular with customers. So far, 72% of new LEAF buyers have chosen models equipped with the ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system.

Particularly interesting is the LEAF’s e-pedal. Just the flick of a switch allows you to control the vehicle’s acceleration and braking with just one pedal – a bit like driving a golf buggy. Use this system well and you get extra miles as it regenerates during deceleration.

Charging itself couldn’t be easier. You either find a service station equipped for the job and relax with a cup of coffee and the paper for an hour or plug the lead, found in the massive boot, into your own home electricity point and charge overnight at a cost of around £5 per time.

Pricing is still an issue of course with manufacturing costs at Nisan’s Sunderland plant proving costly. Prices start at £21,990, including a £4,500 Government Grant, but the Tenka model on test was packed with extras and would cost you just short of £30,000.

You get a lot for your money though. The LEAF is a really good looking car with 17 inch alloys wheels, LED lights, chrome door handles, privacy glass and a sculptured body.

Inside the silent cabin the doors are trimmed with synthetic leather, and the part-leather front seats are heated along with the steering wheel.

Nissan has made more than just a nod to keeping the drivers and passengers safe. You get ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Hill Start, six airbags, emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, lane departure warning, cross traffic alert, blind spot warning and an electronic parking brake.

The LEAF is packed with the latest Nissan technology too, with Bose Premium Audio and seven speakers, an intelligent around view monitor and Nissan Connect for those moments when things go wrong.

The LEAF is a delight to drive around town and is a capable performer on the motorway too with its extremely responsive acceleration so if you think it’s time for an EV this could be just the car for you – and it’s cheaper than the opposition too.