Nissan Leaf E-Tekna e+ 3.ZERO review.
For – well-equipped, high quality, terrific everywhere but the motorway.
Against – expensive, range-threatened.
Useable highspeed range 81 miles/45.2%
£37,820 (after subsidy)
The Nissan Leaf has long been a trail blazer for electric cars and its looks, size and range have all been gradually improved over the years. One aspect that hasn’t really changed is its motorway cruising ability, which now is still only an effective just over 80 miles.
That shouldn’t detract from what is an excellent vehicle for all but the long-distance summer cruise to the sun. Its looks have been uprated from the dumpy little ugly duckling to what is now a rather handsome and impressive machine. This version is very well equipped with all the best audio and media stuff and electronic aids to safety, like lane warning, and blind spot recognition. Range is much improved from early versions. It drives very well and sits on the road reassuringly. Performance is positively Tesla-like with the sprint from a standing start to 60 mph close to 6-1/2 seconds. Not that Leaf buyers will be too interested in anything as silly as sprinting in a car anywhere, but it’s nice to know it’s there if the mood beckons.
The car has a quality feel to it as you slip behind the wheel. There’s the big screen, naturally, and the dash and driving environs are classy and reassuring. There’s a little gear stick, which you pull towards you and upwards to engage reverse, down for neutral and down again for D. You simply press down on it to put it in park. There’s a little lever to engage regenerative braking, and another e for economy.
The suspension felt thumpy; or was that the impact of the 3rd world roads around West Sussex? There was no individual air conditioning for the driver and front passenger. That’s not good enough for a £40,000 motor. The boot was big, but the shape was not helpful to golfers. So what, I hear you say. The car was plastered with smug little “zero emissions” labels – at the back and on both sides, but everybody knows there’s no such thing as a zero- emissions vehicle.
Same old story in the fast lane
The regenerative braking induced a satisfactory jolt as you lift off the accelerator, and it worked well, if a little unpredictably. You can avoid using the brakes for most of the time. One drawback of that is when you do need to hit the brakes hard, you’re not used to the motion and it’s maybe not as slick as you’d like. I tested the regenerative braking over various routes. One country run of 51 miles took only 45 miles from availability, another trip of 16 miles gradually downhill used only 10 miles, the same 16-mile trip removed 11 miles. Another mostly urban trip of 9 miles, actually cost 21. So you can see it’s effective when speeds were mostly around 40 to 50 mph. That 9 mile trip must have been an aberration.
Unfortunately, the fast lane data showed the same old story for even this relatively powerful 62kWh battery. One 30-mile return journey cruising in the fast lane cost 54 miles of theoretical availability, another 12-mile trip cost 35 miles and its reverse 13 miles removed 27. The overall fast lane performance was 45.2%. In other words, faced with a 100-mile trip up the motorway, you’d only get 45.2 miles. When calculating this I dismiss the manufacturers battery full claim and use my own experience – in this case 226 miles versus 239 miles – and subtract 20% because manufacturers recommend you only ever fill the battery to 80% of capacity to avoid long-life damage.
This version of the Nissan LEAF – e+ 3.ZERO Limited Edition – is also available with a 40 kWh battery.
What to buy?
The field is filling up with impressive competitors. Nissan will introduce a new model next year, the Ariya SUV. That’s likely to be rather more expensive. And there are rumours an electrified Juke is being prepared behind the scenes. Electric cars are arriving so fast, and with such similar qualities, it’s almost time to recommend simply going to your nearest dealer. For me that would be bad news because that would mean my Suzuki connection would have to be severed. Suzuki has plenty of hybrids now but no electric vehicles. It’s soon-to-be- launched Across plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) though could be a world beater, with its huge 50-mile battery range. Given that I believe PHEVs are the way to go because none of the worthy electric vehicles can handle long-distance high speed cruising, maybe my allegiance can be extended.
|Nissan Leaf E-Tekna e+ 3.ZERO|
|(*highway cruising at real world indicated 80 mph)|
|Power:||214 hp @ 4,600 to 5,800 rpm|
|Torque:||340 Nm @ 500 to 4,000|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph 6.7 seconds|
|Top Speed:||98 mph|
|CO2:||zero at tailpipe|
|Claimed range:||239 miles|
|WintonsWorld:||charging range availability average 226 miles (average of 5).
Highway cruising* – 45.2% of claimed availability – (less 20% x45.2%).
useable highspeed range 81 miles.
|Charging:||100 kW capable 6.6 kW 0-100% 11-1/2 hours, fast charging time - unavailable|
|Boot capacity:||420 litres/1,161|
|Competition:||Renault Zoe, Mini E, Honda E, BMW i3, Kia-eNiro, Kia eSoul, Hyundai Kona, Mini e, Fiat 500e, Vauxhall Corsa E, Peugeot e208, Hyundai Ioniq, Citroen eC4, SEAT Mii electric, Skoda Citigo e, Smart e, Skoda Enyaq, MG ZS EV, VW.ID3, VW.ID4|
|Price:||£37,820 (after government subsidy £2,500)|
|For:||well-equipped package, high quality, terrific everywhere but the motorway|