Nissan launched their new 100% electric Leaf with around a 40% range improvement compared to the previous model.
On first look, the new Leaf has made some dramatic improvements to the shape of the design, with in-depth aerodynamic considerations. Importantly, they also seem to have flattened out that bulge on the rear of the first model, which always reminds me of the old Renault Megane… and not in a good way!
With the signature front grille and a new two-tone option (which really does look great), the days of the bubble-shaped Leaf are over. The front and rear lights have also undergone a total makeover, adding to a sleek image.
The interior keeps things simple, but with a higher-quality feel than the previous model. Useful features have also been added (New 18cm colour display, USB chargers and cupholders) to improve comfort.
The new Leaf has a bigger 40kW battery, and the range announced was 400km/250m. In the real world, this would probably be more like 250-300km.
The top speed is around 144km/h or 90mph.
It will take 16 hours to charge from a 3kW output, 8 hours using a 6kw charger and fast charging will be available, which typically gives you about 80% in 30-40 minutes.
The new model features an intelligent driving feature called the ProPILOT system, which is similar to technology we see already in quite a lot of cars (including the Tesla Model S), although normally from a higher price range than the Leaf.
ProPILOT is an “autopilot” system, used in single lane driving where the car will drive itself, maintaining a speed and/or distance to the car in front preset by the driver. This means that the car will steer in order to keep itself inside the lane, or even come to a full stop in traffic. It also features self (hands-free) parking.
This is a great feature to make a drive more comfortable, especially in traffic and- as I mentioned before- it’s nice to see this technology in a lower-priced vehicle compared to other cars I have experienced similar intelligent driving assistance with.
Nissan also explained another new feature; the e-pedal. The e-pedal was dubbed as being entirely new, even to electric vehicles, but without having driven the car yet, I don’t know how it compares in feel to the likes of the BMW i3 etc.
The e-pedal is essentially the drivers one stop shop for accelerating, braking and stopping the car. This means that in urban driving situations, the driver will see maximum energy recovery, and the brake pedal would be minimally required.
This is a driving style that I already heavily use in the BMW i3, which also employs regenerative braking on its pedal. I would speculate that the new Leaf will take this a step even further, braking even more heavily.
Either way, if you haven’t tried “eco driving” in an EV yet, now is a fun time to get a feel for it, because you will be astonished by how massively it will impact your range.
At the launch, the Nissan team were reminiscent of their initial Leaf launch back in 2010 and the reactions they received from their fellow car manufacturers at the time. Since then, with more than 300,000 cars sold across 49 countries, the Leaf became the world’s biggest-selling pure electric car.
Price will be comparable to the existing model and the Leaf will go on sale in Japan in October, then Europe in January 2018.
Overall, Nissan have taken a sensible- although not groundbreaking- step and improved all of the obvious areas of the existing Leaf. It will be competing against the Renault Zoe, Tesla Model 3 and (in certain areas) the Chevy Bolt/Ampera E, but is currently the lowest-priced option and the improved look combined with the added features certainly puts it into the field as a strong contender in this category… for now anyway.
Nissan claim that the new leaf is “More than just an EV,” alluding to all the intelligent features in the new model, but with EV being such a buzzword at the moment, they should not downplay the power of 100% electric.
At the end of the presentation, Nissan also mentioned that a higher-power and higher-priced version of the Leaf with a bigger battery will be released towards the end of 2018. Perhaps it might be worth waiting for.