Electric cars have been around for a long time, but haven’t really been a mainstream option until recently. Cars such as the Kia Soul EV, Renault Zoe and best selling Nissan Leaf are trying to convert more petrol and diesel owners to cleaner and cheaper electric power without sacrificing space or comfort.
The main reason most people still prefer traditional engines is range anxiety – the worry that you don’t have enough charge to make it to your destination. To answer this, Nissan now offers a larger battery for the 2016 Leaf on Tekna trim and above. The increase in capacity to 30kWh results in 25 per cent more range – up to 155 miles if you are very careful. That’s still not huge but bear in mind – a full charge only costs about £2.
To put the new battery to the test we took the 30kWh Leaf to one of the steepest roads in Europe – the Col de Turini pass. It climbs a mile straight up in less than 40 road miles, putting tremendous strain on the battery. During our trip we came up with five reasons you should consider an all-electric car as your family transport.
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It’s practical and luxurious
Some people think of small two-seater cars such as the Renault Twizy when they think of all-electric cars. The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, can seat four six-foot adults along with all their luggage and, on the top-spec Tekna we drove, has luxurious standard features that would be optional extras on cars that cost much more.
Equipment such as the front and rear heated leather seats and the heated steering wheel really separate the Leaf from what mainstream petrol and diesel rivals can offer in terms of convenience and passenger comfort. The comfort brings us to the Leaf’s next big plus point…
It’s incredibly smooth and quiet
Because there isn’t an engine and there’s lots of sound deadening very little from the outside enters the cabin. This leaves the cabin noticeably free from background noise and lets the occupants talk at a normal volume even at motorway speeds.
What’s more, there are very few cars that can match the Leaf on smoothness when leaving the lights – the nature of its electric motor means its pulling power is delivered immediately. You might be surprised to find this makes for some lively acceleration from 0-45mph, although it quickly starts to taper off after 60mph. Its eagerness at urban speeds is one of the main reasons we liked the Leaf’s driving experience.
It’s great to drive
The short bursts of acceleration as you zip through traffic in almost complete silence are what make electric cars such fun to drive – you get all the power and excitement of a big engine at a slow speeds so you can have fun without breaking the law. A benefit of the heavy battery pack being mounted as low as possible is that the Leaf has a naturally low centre of gravity and a perfect weight distribution. This means the Leaf feels grippy and stable through any corners.
While it’s fun to exploit the electric motor’s instant power, the Leaf is also good when being driven more sensibly. It rides more smoothly than a VW Golf and Ford Focus and, while that might induce marginally more body roll than those cars, the low-mounted battery pack ensures you always feel planted on the road surface.
More durable than Tesla
Compared to electric car maker Tesla, Nissan opted to use a less capacious, but more durable technology for its batteries. Nissan has a long history of electric cars dating back to the 1920s and we’re inclined to believe its choice of durability over range will be the right one in the long run. It’s confident in the technology so is offering an eight-year warranty ensuring the battery capacity won’t fall below 75 per cent.
The more we drove the Leaf, the more we enjoyed the surrounding views and in there lies the ethos of the Leaf – it makes driving more relaxing than many other cars in this price range. This brings us to the last reason you should consider an all-electric car as your next purchase…
Owners love it
Nissan asked its Leaf owners to rate their experience and the results were clear. When measuring how much a the Leaf exceeded or fell below customer expectations, 90 per cent of drivers were pleasantly surprised and would recommend the car to another person. This means a full nine out of ten buyers had their prejudices shattered by the Leaf’s practicality, smoothness, handling and luxury.
Save money on your Nissan Leaf
Put this electric superstar in our Nissan Leaf configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you still need help picking your next new car, check out our car chooser.