Green Car Review - Nissan Leaf
PUBLISHED: 00:24 28 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:07 20 February 2013
In the first of our exclusive green car reviews, Faye Sunderland branches out with a Leaf
Quick Facts about the Nissan Leaf
Cost: 25,990 (including a 5,000 grant)
Range: 109 miles on a full charge
Recharging time: 8 hours using the Home Charging Unit
Power: 109PS or 111bhp
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
USP: worlds first mass-market affordable electric car
As the very first family-sized electric car, the Nissan Leaf was a breakthrough when it arrived in the UK in March last year. But just what is it like to live with a car with a range limited to around 109 miles on a full charge? Put simply, its not a car that is likely to suit everyones needs, but early adopters seem besotted with the Leaf especially with its recharging cost of around two pence a mile.
In smugness stakes the Nissan Leaf outdoes the hybrid Toyota Prius to a factor of around 100. Its not just the low running costs that appeal, the lack of tailpipe emissions mean that its new owners have been proudly proclaiming to be part of the clean motoring revolution thats been slowly stirring in the UK ever since the electric G-Wiz first caught Jonathan Rosss eye.
Unlike the quadricycle G-Wiz and its reputation for low safety standards, the Leaf is a real car, of sensible dimensions (comparable to a Volkswagen Golf) with a top ranking five star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Driving the Leaf is brilliant fun; electric cars have the advantage that their full torque power is supplied almost instantaneously, with the Leaf arguably as brisk off the mark as a high-end sports car.
Beyond that initial instant pull, the performance becomes more in line with the expectations of a small family car, with the 80kW electric motor supplying the equivalent of 111bhp. A top speed of 90mph and a 0-62mph time of 11.9 seconds mean that the Leafs performance is respectable for its class. Steering is light yet precise and the Leaf feels very nimble. Automatic transmission means there is no clutch or gear-changes to worry about, making it very friendly for the new driver.
Compared to its conventional combustion counterparts, its not cheap, starting at 25,990 (and thats after you include a 5,000 government-funded plug-in car grant), and the Leaf is available in a single but well-equipped trim. That includes a seven-inch colour LCD touch screen with a satellite navigation system that among other things will detail the reachable, public recharging points.
A rear view camera, iPod connectivity with six speakers are also included as is the ability for owners to use their smartphone to remotely set the interior temperature, perfect for defrosting on a cold morning without leaving the house. An on-board timer also means you can pre-set the car to start charging overnight to take advantage of lower electricity tariffs.
Recharging the lithium-ion battery takes eight hours using a British Gas installed Home Charging Unit.Using a special, high-voltage quick-charger, the car can replenish the battery to 80 per cent of capacity in just under 30 minutes. And if you want to do your bit to support British manufacturing, from 2013 the Leaf will be built from Nissans car plant in Sunderland.
TheGreenCarWebsite.co.uk is the definitive guide to fuel efficient cars and economical motoring, providing a wealth of information on everything from electric cars, hybrid cars, efficient petrol and diesel cars to biofuels and hydrogen fuel cell technology.