Although the new car is slightly squatter than the first-generation Leaf, headroom inside is excellent – unexpectedly so for the rakish-looking hatch – although its exterior dimensions make it almost as wide as the Ford Focus, and larger than one in every other direction.
A seating position that’s slightly too high compared with the shallow windscreen makes the interior feel a little less spacious than it deserves, though. Otherwise, the dashboard has the perfect button-to-screen ratio. Important functions aren’t relegated to a sub-menu in the infotainment, but the dash is nevertheless satisfyingly uncluttered.
The blue button on the right-hand side of the steering wheel unlocks a key feature of the new Leaf; Propilot is the name given to Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving system. It’s as easy to operate as adaptive cruise control: just set the speed, wait for the system to confirm that it’s ready, and relax. Let go of the wheel, though, and a reminder tells you politely to keep your hands on it.
The reminder is less polite the second time around. Propilot Park - an extension to the Propilot system – makes light work of automated parking, albeit slowly. There’s no setting to make it faster as it rolls into a space, so it’s certainly not suited for city parking, but it’s accurate and intuitive, even allowing for situations where space isn’t marked - you move a box into your desired space. It’d be brilliant if it wasn’t so timid in its speed. Luckily Nissan will be updating that too.
Steering is where this Japanese Leaf loses a sizable chunk of driver appeal. It feels numb, and not all that direct, either. It’s far from where it should be. And guess what? That’s getting updated too; Nissan is tightening up the rack to be more responsive on UK-market vehicles; it’ll take closer to two turns lock-to-lock than the Japanese market’s three.