The e+ version of the Leaf is better in some ways and worse in others. There’s a trade-off for a battery and power upgrade this significant, and it’s more pronounced than with a similar upgrade to a petrol or diesel car.
Let’s start with the good bits: that power boost is noticeable from the off. Nissan quotes a 0-62mph time of 7.3sec - the same as the BMW i3, although still a way off the unusually brisk Hyundai Kona Electric. Nevertheless, this is a Leaf that no longer feels a touch out of its depth at motorway speeds, remaining punchy above 70mph.
Having the longer range means attempts to exploit the Leaf’s newfound straight-line urgency don’t leave you with feelings of guilt and anxiety once you glance at the predicted miles left. We weren’t able to run the Leaf e+ right down to empty, but indications are that it should be easily capable of breaching the 200-mile barrier, even if you have a hyperactive right foot.
As with the Kona Electric, however, this level of power and torque on tap from the get-go causes some issues in the chassis department. Nissan has revised the suspension for the e+, but that doesn’t prevent the traction control from going berserk when you try to move away smartly with steering lock applied. The steering wheel squirms this way and that, too, while undulating Tarmac makes the car lose grip all too easily when its safety systems are turned off.
Corners aren’t to be relished, either, if only because the increased approach speed means more dive under braking and more lean when turning in via the feel-free helm. Much can be put down to the car’s quoted kerb weight: at well over 1700kg (about 150kg more than the regular Leaf), it's a fair chunk heavier than the Kona Electric and nearly half a tonne more than the far more agile BMW i3S.
Still, what matters more to many electric car buyers (generally speaking, those who drive into and around urban areas) is that the ride is considerably less disturbed by bumps than in the i3s. Refinement is decent, too.
Arguably, that the Leaf e+ is more adept when taking it easy than when pushed near its limits shouldn’t faze potential owners. Nobody is realistically expecting it to rival a hot hatch, or even a warm one. In some ways, this defeats the purpose of giving it more power, but we can accept that most buyers will use it only in small bursts, when overtaking or getting up to speed out of an oblique junction, say.
The interior of the e+ is unchanged from the regular Leaf, meaning it has a wealth of equipment, reasonable space, acceptable material quality and no reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The latter was particularly irksome for this 6ft 2in tall tester and borders on absurdity given the price this model commands.