From £20,975
Too pricey for private buyers, but still proof that electric cars can be comfortable, safe and practical daily transport

Our Verdict

Nissan Leaf
2013 saw the launch of the re-engineered Nissan Leaf

The electric Nissan Leaf has its work cut out competing with cheaper mainstream cars - but it does make a case for itself

What is it?

You’ll be familiar with the Nissan Leaf by now. It’s already won car of the year 2011 and made a name for itself as potentially the first really usable everyday pure-electric car. This is the first time we’ve had the chance to drive it in the UK to see how it manages on our roads.

What’s it like?

Crucially, it’s much the same as many conventional family hatches. Disregard the electric propulsion and there’s no denying that the dynamics are fairly average. Firm damping means you get some fidgeting at higher speeds over any road less arterial than a motorway, though low speed bump absorption is good and it’s not an uncomfortable car at any point.

With the 48 lithium-ion batteries mounted at floor level, handling is linear and predictable enough for the Leaf’s purposes. Sharp brake response (emphasised by very short pedal travel) and light, sterile steering ensure there is very little sensitivity to the drive, but the initial surge of torque from the electric motor actually makes the Leaf quite entertaining around town. Even in Eco mode with the increased engine braking and reduced power output that it entails over standard ‘D’ mode, the Leaf is quick enough to keep up with urban traffic.

The interior has a quirky, futuristic feel to it due to the ‘mouse’ that controls the auto-box, but ultimately it’s a pleasant place to be with lots of standard equipment and adequate space. In essence, this is a usable family hatch that happens to run on electricity.

Should I buy one?

Range limitations (our test suggested that a real-world range would be about 80 miles with gentle but varied driving) will dictate whether you can live with a Nissan Leaf or not. Given that it will take 12 hours for a full charge from a standard socket, there’s no denying there are still limitations, and the list price is simply too high by comparison to conventional rivals for most to justify it. However, for company car users the fact that this is free – no, really – of any benefit in kind charges and costs around £2 per charge makes it an almost surreal proposition.

The Leaf won’t suit everyone, but it is easy to see its huge potential as a comfortable and practical school-run car or short-distance business commuter. It finally proves that the everyday electric car isn’t just wishful eco-thinking, even if the price for private buyers is still too big an ask.

Nissan Leaf

Price: £25,990; Top speed: 90mph; 0-62mph: 11.9sec; Economy: na; Co2: 0g/km; Kerbweight: 1525kg; Engine type: Electric motor; Power: 107bhp at 2730-9800rpm; Torque: 207lb ft at 0-2730rpm; Gearbox: Single-speed auto

Join the debate

Comments
38

30 March 2011

For many the range will be an issue, but at the £399 a month it costs to finance with minimal other costs it could make an ideal second car.

Seems to me like a great first effort and I hope it brings on a lot of early adopter customers.

30 March 2011

I know that these baby steps need to be taken to get EV's out to a wider audience but there can only be a very small percentile of company users (the only people who in reality will be able to buy this car) who have any use for this vehicle. Still too expensive and impractical for "normal" people.

An interesting start on the ladder but one I certainly won't be going any where near.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

30 March 2011

Elsewhere comments have been made about the exceptional refinement of the Leaf - was this your experience Vicky? What was rolling refinement like?

30 March 2011

[quote Orangewheels]For many the range will be an issue, but at the £399 a month it costs to finance with minimal other costs it could make an ideal second car.[/quote]

The £399 figure you quote, is that a finance plan on the entire cost of the car or a lease figure?

A quick scout round the net has found a Corsa SXi at £175.00 per month (purchase not lease). As a rough like for like usage the user of the Corsa would expect to use approx £50 of fuel. Road fund at worse case £7.50 per month. Total £232.50.

As a private user (if I've remembered everything and got my figures right) unless I lived in London then there is no way the Leaf makes financial sense, even as a second car.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

30 March 2011

Do not forget the real price is £5k more than that shown by Autocar. That £5k subsidy comes out of the pockets of all fossil fuelled car owners.

30 March 2011

Taking cost out of it, I am an ideal candidate for an electric car with the current range limitations. I drive 6 miles each way to work and back across town, and only the occasional trip out the city. However, Will the plug reach up 5 flights to my flat???

30 March 2011

[quote superstevie]I drive 6 miles each way to work and back across town[/quote] Taking cost out of it, you're an ideal candidate for a bicycle...

30 March 2011

[quote TegTypeR]

The £399 figure you quote, is that a finance plan on the entire cost of the car or a lease figure?

A quick scout round the net has found a Corsa SXi at £175.00 per month (purchase not lease). As a rough like for like usage the user of the Corsa would expect to use approx £50 of fuel. Road fund at worse case £7.50 per month. Total £232.50.

[/quote]

Teg - the £399 was from memory, having checked It's a contract hire price 3+35 10k miles per annum ex vat. I can't see a Corsa being in any way a fair comparison - considering the Leaf's a size bigger and gets a decent bit of standard kit, maybe a Golf 1.6 Match Bluemotion Tech DSG listing at £21500 is fair (bearing in mind the Leaf's effectively an auto) which is around £275 - £300 a month plus vat, which would attract a yearly benefit in kind tax for a 40% taxpayer of just over £1100, so £92 a month. Add fuel costs at 10k miles £60-70?? and the Leaf's pulling clear. Plus the driver pays nothing as all of the costs are bourne by the company, and the company gets to boast of being green, which looks good to shareholders. Driver also avoids any benefit in kind tax on fuel too, which is another £978 a year for a 40% taxpayer, so for the company the costs aren't too different and to the driver it's £2k a year more in his pocket - hence as a company car to a low mileage user it's a massive win for the driver, and for a private user it's about equal.

30 March 2011

[quote superstevie]However, Will the plug reach up 5 flights to my flat???[/quote]

for £52 it will: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0001P0GEO/ref=asc_df_B0001P0GEO2432597?smid=...

30 March 2011

[quote Orangewheels]Teg - the £399 was from memory, having checked It's a contract hire price 3+35 10k miles per annum ex vat........[/quote]

Fair point that the Corsa isn't really a like for like on size (or the fact it isn't auto) but I would struggle to compare a regular Nissan (which is what this car is if you take the electric motor out of the equation) with something like a Golf. Personally, I would look at something like a Hyundai i30 as being a fairer comparison. The Corsa figure was the first I could pluck off the web which I felt represented a common second car.

Anyway, that aside, my point was based on a private user, who this car would be more ideally suited to. I agree, as a company user, there are benefits and you would come out ahead but I can't imagine there are that many company car users who will be doing the sort of journeys this car would be able to do.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

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