Nissan are the true pioneers of electric vehicles. Whereas most car makers are up to two years away from launching their first genuine, mainstream electric cars, Nissan have already launched their second generation Leaf.
The best and most efficient electric cars have been designed with light aerodynamic bodies and are not merely adaptations of petrol cars. Nissan has been making such cars for some time, and the second generation Leaf is the result of years of painstaking research.
Not that the previous version of the Leaf needed much improvement. In the United Kingdom, the outgoing Leaf outsold all other electric vehicles put together. Those who owned them rarely returned to combustion.
So what does the new Leaf offer to those seeking to upgrade their vehicle? It’s faster, travels further between charges and has a far more elegant appearance. The motor is far more powerful, propelling the car from 0 to over 60 mph in less than eight seconds. The battery has a range of 235 miles (according to EU tests), which would allow the driver to complete a round Island circuit four times before recharging.
But what if you wanted to take a long trip on North Island? You could easily travel to London and back or all the way to Birmingham without having to recharge. Even if you were to go to Newcastle, an hour’s break would be enough to give you an 80 per cent charge, whilst you could be having a coffee and a bite to eat and catching up with some emails.
The true joy of the Leaf is its performance. It’s both silent and agile. It has a spring in its step even at motorway speed. It gives the impression of longing for you to press the pedal to accelerate. The low centre of gravity of the Leaf makes swinging through bends with precision and grace pleasurable.
The top-of-the-range Tekna version comes with the ProPilot package, including radar cruise control, lane following and traffic jam assist. All Leafs also get radar sensors feeding cross-traffic assist for reversing and blind-spot warning.
Having committed yourself to driving by the flow of electrons, how much will it cost? Not a great deal if you charge at home. Electricity is taxed at five per cent; petrol at about 400 per cent.
Even so, many are still fearful of electric vehicles. The new Leaf puts such concerns to bed. It goes a very long distance from a home charge. Recharging en route, when planned in advance, isn’t problematic. Just think about all the money you will save on petrol.
The real joy of the Leaf isn’t the money, however. It’s winning formula is the charming grace of its motor. Most Leaf drivers simply regard it as a far superior source of motion.