The Nissan Leaf is a comfortable, eco-friendly family car with good looks. However, its infotainment system is outdated and the interior quality is inconsistent
If you’re looking for an electric family car that’s practical and distinctive, then the Nissan Leaf should be on your shortlist. It’s also ground-breaking in many ways, winning the Innovation Award in the 2018 carwow awards. In particular, that was for the e-Pedal system, which allows you to drive for almost the whole time using just one pedal.
If you want any further incentive, the Nissan Leaf is also eligible for the Government Plug-In Car grant. Up until 9 November 2018, this gets you up to a £4,500 discount on the price of a new car. After this date, the grant drops to £3,500 off the price.
It’s a tempting alternative to the Volkswagen e-Golf, which looks a little dull by comparison, costs more and has a 70 mile shorter range.
The outside of the Nissan Leaf might be quite pleasing to look at, but the inside has a way to go before it matches the e-Golf’s. The Nissan’s material quality is average – even though a large part of the dash is leather-trimmed on top-spec cars – but some parts are rather low rent compared to what you’ll find in a Volkswagen.
The Leaf’s infotainment system also falls behind what you get in a VW, thanks to low-res graphics and slow loading speeds. However, it does have some redeeming features such as the optional 360-degree camera that gives you a birds-eye view of your surroundings when parking. Alternatively, you can spec a self-parking assistant that’ll do the job for you.
Nissan has turned over a new, er, leaf with the new Leaf by giving it a range that makes it a credible alternative to a petrol car
While the infotainment system could be improved upon there’s no denying the Leaf is a comfortable car to sit in and the driver’s seat is upright and comfortable, although there’s no reach adjustment to the steering wheel.
You can easily fit two six-foot adults in the back though, and the deep 435-litre boot has more than enough space for family needs, although you have to lift heavy luggage over the tall boot lip. Should you need more space you can fold the rear seats down with one hand.
Driving the Nissan Leaf is just as easy – it only has one gear so you simply put it into drive and off you go. Even braking is a doddle because the Nissan slows itself gently (while its regenerative brakes recharge the battery) the minute you take your foot off the accelerator pedal. Nissan calls the system E-Pedal, and it’ll even bring the car to a stop.
Out on the motorway, there’s surprisingly little wind noise and you can switch on the optional autonomous driving assistant called ProPilot to keep you in your lane, a safe distance from the car in front. Use a dedicated fast-charger and its battery will be 80% charged in about 40 minutes – giving you a decent range of up to 235 miles.
On top of that, the Leaf has a mind-boggling amount of electronic aids and assists that make it one of the safest electric cars on the road.
All in all, the Nissan Leaf is a great electric family car then – it costs buttons to run, is easy to drive, practical and surprisingly nippy. If you can forgive some of the interior shortcomings, the Leaf is a great buy.