The fact that you could turn it off completely was welcome when parking (because the car was then able to creep like a normal automatic) and on the motorway, when coasting was generally preferable to slowing rapidly when you lifted off.
Using the regular braking system was something to be avoided as much as possible, though, because the pedal felt spongy and often resulted in very abrupt stops.
The fact that you have to be stationary with your foot on the brake pedal to switch between the two e-Pedal modes was inconvenient at times, too; I like being able to change the level of regen on the move, as some of the Leaf’s rivals allow via paddles on the steering column.
The interior is roomy and there’s lots of useful storage space, but it’s not what you’d call classy. I didn’t really get on with the driving position, either, mainly because the steering column doesn’t adjust for reach and the seat doesn’t provide much support, becoming uncomfortable on longer trips. A bigger, clearer, more responsive infotainment touchscreen and a more configurable, fully digital instrument panel wouldn’t have gone amiss, either; both seemed surprisingly low-tech for a car like this. There were a few rattles to contend with, too, notably from the seatbelt buckles tapping against the hard plastic trim on the door pillars.
While it’s great that the Leaf comes with heaps of driver aids, I found some of them quite intrusive – notably the automatic emergency braking, which tended to activate too often, reacting to parked cars and even the barriers in our car park. The overly sensitive front and rear parking sensors were highly irritating, too. However, the adaptive cruise control proved effective on the motorway and the blindspot monitors came in handy all the time.
Since these items are also available on the mid-range N-Connecta trim, that’s the one I’d go for next time; I wouldn’t miss luxuries such as the advanced but rather time-consuming ProPilot Park self-parking system that’s exclusive to the Tekna version.
I’ve very much enjoyed running around in the Leaf every day, despite its flaws. And compared with hatchback rivals, the Leaf remains competitive, thanks to its low running costs (just 4.8 pence per mile in electricity), practicality and comfortable ride, and a good choice for mainly urban use. However, it isn’t a game-changer. With real-world ranges of more than 250 miles, that accolade must go to the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro family SUVs. Likeable though it is, the Leaf already seems a little old hat.
For urban driving, this must be one of the most relaxing cars money can buy, at least in terms of powertrain and sound insulation. It’s eerily quiet, lazily undemanding to operate and, perch of the seats notwithstanding, actually very comfortable. I also like the progressive design, which seems to have grown on me