Above all else, the Leaf is easy to drive, but it’s also comfortable over bumps and stable around corners, but it still has a shorter range than a petrol or diesel model
The 150hp electric motor fitted to the Leaf is not only more powerful than in the previous model but also more energy efficient – Nissan claims it has a range of 235 miles on a charge but a safer figure would be around 150 miles – more than what the VW e-Golf can do in the real world, but still a long way off what you’ll get from a conventional diesel or petrol.
The Nissan Leaf is no rocket ship, but it’ll give a small family car a run for its money away from the traffic lights and it has a decent range for an electric car
Charging the Leaf also takes a lot longer than refuelling a conventional car – install a 6kW charger at home and it’ll take about six hours for a full charge (half the time it takes from a three-prong plug) and a dedicated fast-charger will get the battery to 80% full in about 40 minutes.
The Leaf has a more stylish shape than an e-Golf but the downside is you get larger blind spots when you glance over your shoulder. That said, overall visibility is pretty good and the upright driving position also helps with judging the corners of the car.
That’s a bonus when parking and all models, bar the entry-level Visia, get a reversing camera. Mid-range N-Connecta cars get front and rear parking sensors and you can also spec a 360-degree camera that gives you a bird’s eye view when parking.
Alternatively, you can get a system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel parking spaces – it’s only available on models equipped with the ProPilot autonomous driving assist that can literally drive the car by itself on the motorway.
Even without the autonomous driving tech, the Nissan is a relaxing car to travel in. It does a really good job of ironing out potholes around town – you hear a few more clunks and noises than you would in an e-Golf, but overall it’s quite comfortable, and naturally there’s no engine noise even when you accelerate in town.
On the open road, it won’t shock you to learn the Leaf doesn’t pretend to be a sports car but it goes around corners better than you might expect from this type of car. The heavy batteries mounted low in the floor make the Leaf feel planted to the road and also help reduce body lean. Plus, with no petrol or diesel engine to drone away at motorway speeds, you’ll find it’s eerily silent at a cruise.
It’s also very safe – all models come with lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and auto-dipping headlights. If you happen to fall asleep while the optional ProPilot driving assistant is on, the system will bring the car to a stop on the side of the road and put on the hazard lights.