But few cars need to provide a feelsome drive less than the Leaf, and it is a pleasant car in which to cover miles. Turn-in is sharp enough, there’s ample grip and the Leaf is wholly safe, predictable and not unsatisfying to drive.
The original version of the Leaf had an uncannily fluid urban ride, smoothing away even the worst of the UK’s roads. The downside to this was a lack of body control at motorway speeds, which could become slightly alarming floating at speeds above 70mph.
2013’s revamped Leaf is a much-improved motorway car, with a far more tied-down feel at higher speeds. The steering is also weighter at all speeds. The downside is that the uncanny urban progress has been sacrificed. Even though it still rides very well compared to rival, conventionally engineered cars.
Autocar’s original tests showed the Leaf can return 75 to 80 real-world miles on a single charge, with that falling to as little as 45 miles in the depths of a snow-bound winter day. However, the Acenta and Tekna versions of the 2013 Leaf use a new heat pump-based heating system which is claimed use much less battery power. (The entry-level Visia has the same system as the original Leaf).
Early tests show that the new heater does indeed allow a more impressive range, with 70 miles a likely minimum in sub-zero winter conditions and over 100 miles in warmer temperatures. While in real-world tests the 30kWh Leaf is capable of averaging 120 miles per charge.
Even so, these are still comparatively small distances and it would be easy to view this as a very limiting factor, but considering that the vast majority of Leafs will be second cars, it’s also clear that this will be fairly irrelevant for many, especially if the car can be recharged when it is parked at the owner’s home.