The world’s first mass-produced fully electric family car is now ready for sale at £25,990, which includes a £5,000 government incentive.
My first impressions when I saw the Leaf was a slightly longer wheel based version of a Micra to increase the length to house the centrally placed batteries, this is not the case as the car is designed from scratch to be a fully electric car with a range of around 100 miles.
Also the fact that I could stop off at any of the Rapid Charge stations and get a charge from 0% all the way to 80% in 30 minutes this almost convinced me of the viability of the solution.
At least with the Leaf you buy the car with the battery not like the Renault Twizy where you rent the batteries at a whopping £45 a month .
The only specification you really choose from is the colour of your Leaf, the only other option is a £250 solar powered charger on the boot lid which charges the instrumentation devices and the Sound System. The cabin is large and fresh, with leg and headroom for all 5 averagely sized passengers , and a large boot.
When you push the throttle the 551lb, 24kWh lithium-ion battery pulses its current into the 80kW AC brushless electric motor with a rated output of 107bhp, which drives the front wheels to an expected 0-60 time of 12 seconds this sounds slow but the 0-50 in around 7 seconds which is acceptable at the traffic lights and junctions.
The electronics which control the drive motor sits under the hood right where you would expect to find an engine and it looks rather like a combustion engine under the hood albeit the high power warning labels.
So what is it like to drive, it is agile, rides very well, and has reasonably direct steering with the usual lack of feel suffered by most Japanese road cars.
I went throwing it in to tight turns and the chassis control is impressive, handling most corners on par with many petrol/diesel powered alternatives.
Missing was the sound of the engine and this point made me realise I could hear the most discrete whisper from my children sat in the back as well as getting out of the car twice and forgetting to turn the engine off due to it having no noise to prompt me it was still running and being keyless start facility.
Now how about range well I was driving exceptionaly well and economically and this was backed up by the “ECO Tree” which was awarding me three tree’s, I managed to get 53.8 miles with another 26 miles to go which is slightly more than 20 miles less than the declared range.
This is probably explained by the 2 stretches of road where i was going 50-60mph where you can visibly see the power being consumed, so the range is only really good for round town start and stop journeys where you dont exceed 40mph.
This is where the infrastructure of “is Lancashire ready for electric power” is up for question, Well in my area it is a waste of time owning such a vehicle at the moment as there is no access to the charging point in preston 24/7 as it is only open in office hours, which is unfortunately not advertised on the inbuilt GPS “charging Locations”, which left me in some disarray where to charge my car so I utilised the GPS directory which pointed me in the direction of Sainsburys in Westhoughton on arrival I was informed that they had lost the key to the charging point making it also inaccessable
This is where the great people at Nissan Emergency Call Centre sent out an oil burning recovery truck to rescue the electric car.
If you have got good access to charging points and you live in London this car is probably a must have as it is exempt to the congestion charge and can benefit from some 100% free charging points which are dotted around the country.
Verdict: Battery motoring was never easier and now does not come with a career of being a milkman, but the limited range and poor recharging infrastructure means a frustrating time for early adopters.
Pistonspy Says:- Out of 5
If the charging infrastructure was widely rolled out this would likely rise to Score 3.
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