The Nissan Leaf is the world’s most popular electric car. The trouble is, that’s not saying much. Electric vehicles sales remain a drop in a much bigger, and much more oily, ocean.
In 2010, when the first Leaf first went on sale, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn confidently predicted total EV sales of 1.5 million by 2016. The reality is that only 283,000 Leafs have been sold worldwide since 2010, and that’s despite heavy discounting. Compare that to the Qashqai’s one-year (2016) sales figure of 458,822.
But maybe things are changing, what with all the negative chat about diesels at the moment and the fact that full EVs still offer super-low running costs, zero emissions and lots of practicality for young families. The electric car fleet is growing, too, with good cars already here from Renault, Tesla and Volkswagen and plenty more to come in 2018.
One of which will be this new second-generation Leaf. Now, we haven’t seen any scientific data on this, but we reckon you’d have an easier time finding folk to criticise the styling of the current Leaf than to praise it. Even Nissan admits that its look “isn’t popular with most people”.
It’s no surprise therefore to find that the Mk 2 Leaf has been give a new look, more in the style of the new Micra. That’s not all, though. The full-charge range is said to be much greater and the driving experience more engaging, and there’s a big array of ‘intelligent mobility’ driver aids on the new car too.
Under the new Leaf’s floor is a new battery. That supplies energy to a new 148bhp electric motor, which is a hefty increase on the old car’s 107bhp. The upgrade trims nearly 3.5 seconds off the 0-62mph time, taking it from 11.5sec to just over 8.0sec. For comparison, the standard Renault Zoe does it in 13.5sec.
Much more important in the grand scheme of EV acceptance is the new car’s hugely improved real-world driving range, which is up by 81 miles to 235 miles. When the Leaf E-Plus is launched in 2019, that number will jump again to 310 miles, which beats Tesla’s Model 3 and matches Jaguar’s upcoming I-Pace electric SUV.
An interesting new driver feature in the new Leaf is the e-Pedal. Most electric cars have some form of regenerative braking, in which some energy is put back into the battery when you take your foot off the accelerator, with a noticeable slowing effect thrown in for good measure.
The e-Pedal takes that principle and ramps it up by quite a bit. The…