Nissan Leaf led the EV charge and is still a hard act to beat

Nissan Leaf

It led the EV charge but the Leaf is not Nissan’s first electric vehicle. The company’s electric ambitions go back to the 1940s and finally reached series production with the Leaf in 2010. Since it debuted the Leaf’s range has gradually been extended and today there are two versions with 168 or 239 miles of range.

In the real world of course you would be lucky to reach that goal, but the Nissan has the potential to get reasonably close to its limit given the right driving situation.

EVs don’t like motorways because there’s less braking which means less regeneration so the battery doesn’t get as much charge.

Move into an urban scenario and things change for the better. Having said all that the Leaf offers greater journey length for its price than many EVs. It also provides practicality, seating for up to five people and a boot to match.

Prices start from a very competitive, for an EV, €30,316 (£26,845) on the lead-in 40 kwh model with a range of 168 miles.

My test e+ Tekna model (€39,202/£34,710) has the arguably more practical 62 kwh battery with a 239 mile range.

Standard fare is good with even the entry level model and includes such items as auto lights and high beam assist, auto wipers, adaptive cruise control, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation and a plethora of safety kit.

There’s some impressive tech on the Leaf including e-Pedal that allows you to just use your right foot as when you ease off the throttle the car brakes. Depending how quickly you ease off decides on the level of braking, so it’s fairly easy to learn to feather the throttle.

It’s one of those things where until you’ve experienced it you wonder what’s the point. Try it and you realise just how easy it makes the driving.

Add an Eco mode, along with increased regenerative braking, and there are plenty of opportunities to maximise range. Prices for the longer range 239 mile model start at €36,923 (£32,695) and bring increased specification and performance.

The Leaf set the trend and continues to be a sound EV choice. In some areas it shows its age against more digital competitors but personally I’d rather have buttons than digital. If you want an affordable EV combining practicality and decent equipment levels then the Leaf is a hard act to beat.

Facts at a Glance

  • Model: Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna
  • Engine: 62 kwh electric
  • Gears: automatic
  • Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 6.9 seconds/Maximum Speed 157 kmh (98 mph)
  • Economy: 239 mile range
  • Emissions: 0 g/km

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.

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