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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020
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The new Nissan Leaf powers electric motoring into the mainstream (by doing away with the brake pedal)

The new Leaf my just tempt more people to go electric.

Image: Nissan

THIS IS THE new second-generation Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. It comes with sharper looks, a longer driving range, more power and improved onboard technology.

If you are thinking about purchasing your first electric car the Nissan Leaf is a great option and if you are thinking about upgrading this Leaf is much improved. I really do believe the Nissan Leaf is a real contender against non-electric five-door hatchbacks, as long as you have access to a charging point.

You can get a charging point fitted at your home or you can use one of the 1,200 that are currently free to use across the country, although these can sometimes be out of service or occupied.

Thanks to its more conservative but sharper styling the Leaf should appeal to more people than the previous car did.

Inside, the cabin is roomier than before with plenty of space for five adults. And the boot is bigger too with 435 litres on offer which expands to 1,176 litres when you fold down the 60/40 split rear seats. The seats are wide, flat and comfortable and there is an adequate amount of storage.

Source: Nissan

In terms of style and practically it compares well to other cars in the five-door family hatchback segment.

Source: Nissan

Out on the road, the Leaf handles and performs better than the previous model. It is torsionally stiffer and this reduces the car’s body-roll and lean in bends. The car feels more planted too and a lot more stable on the motorway. The steering is quicker to respond and is nicely weighted. Overall, the car feels more agile and slightly more engaging to drive.

With 40 per cent more power the Leaf is quick off the mark and you really feel it take off thanks to its 150hp and 320Nm of torque. It’s really rather fun!

Source: Nissan

The battery is now a 40kWh unit and has 67 per cent greater energy storage than the old Leaf. This gives it a 270km one-charge range on the new WLTP cycle. The WLTP is a more stringent test than the old NEDC one and more realistic. If you use the new ePedal and keep the car around town where the regenerative braking can work more efficiently the range can increase to up to 415km.

The ePedal technology enables the car to accelerate, decelerate and come to a complete stop by simply increasing or decreasing the pressure applied to the accelerator. It is essentially one-pedal driving.

With a deceleration rate of up to 0.2G, the e­Pedal eliminates the need for drivers to constantly move their foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal to slow down or stop. This helps reduce fatigue and stress in daily city driving, allowing the driver to use the brake pedal up to 90 per cent less than in conventional cars.

It does take a bit of getting used to but I found it great around town and it really did improve the range.

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Source: Nissan

I tested the new Nissan Leaf around town, on the motorway and up, down and around a mountain. I drove in the three different drive modes – Eco, Drive and Brake – and I used the ePedal for some of the journey too. When I finished, I had covered 168km on a single charge. The display said there was 55km left. That’s a real world single-charge range of 223km. Not bad. And that’s an improvement of 57km against what I managed in the old Leaf.

Source: Nissan

This means that the average motorist in Ireland with a weekly mileage of around 400km would only need to charge the new Nissan Leaf up twice a week at a cost of around €5.50 if you avail of the cheaper night rate – or it would cost you nothing to charge up using one of the public charge points. If you only used the Leaf for urban driving you could possibly get away with only charging it up once a week. Even if you didn’t have a home charger, topping up once a week is still a pretty easy thing to do nowadays.

It takes roughly 7.5 hours to charge from zero to 100 per cent using a home charger, but not many people will ever be charging from zero per cent battery. To get to 80 per cent using a fast charger will take just 40 minutes.

Source: Nissan

With tax at €120 a year and electric costs around €300 a year or less, the Leaf certainly is cheap to run. We’ll have to wait for Irish pricing (which should be out by the end of the month) to see if it is an overall good value proposition.

However, taking the battery range, running costs and spaciousness into consideration, the Nissan Leaf is really one of the most practical EVs that you can buy especially if you are looking for a family motor.

READ: Detroit delights with big brash motors >

READ: Review – Can the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace outdo the all-conquering Skoda Kodiaq? >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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