I took the Nissan Leaf for a spin back in January last year during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The build-up to the local launch has certainly been drawn out. But this week I finally got behind the wheel of the world’s number one selling electric car, this time on home turf.
What is it?
The Nissan Leaf launched in 2010 and over time quickly became the world’s go to fully-electric car. 420,000 of them have found homes, so there’s little doubt the 2019 Nissan Leaf is very important for the brand.
The fully-electric hatchback will be available at more than 89 Nissan dealerships, which is a clear advantage over brands such as Tesla. Although you’d hardly compare a Leaf to a Tesla, it does show that major brands will have a substantial footprint over anything Tesla can offer.
Behind the wheel
There’s nothing overly special about the Nissan Leaf once you hop in, I think this is a good thing. If you can get over the fact the gear shifter looks like some kind of ergonomic gear mouse, you’ll feel right at home quickly.
The one thing that will jump out at you is a new 8.0-inch Nissan infotainment system. The current system found in most Nissan Vehicles probably predates MS-DOS. I found the cabin to be quite pleasant. There’s only one specification available so you do get plenty of fruit.
The seats feature leather-accented trim which can be heated front and rear, the same applies to the steering wheel. Once you grapple with the strange shifter you take off in utter silence as is the case with all EV cars. But with a 40kWh battery on board the Leaf certainly packs a bit of a punch. Especially when you compare it to the Hyundai Ioniq EV variant. The latter only has a 28kWh battery and there’s a more powerful Ioniq on the way.
I think the Leaf performs very well in the dynamic stakes, it’s far more sure-footed than the Ioniq. It also feels more substantial with an inherent sense of solid build quality.
The brake pedal takes some getting used to, it literally has no feel to it. Passengers will think you’re a tad hard on the anchors, when in actual fact the pedal seems to need a shove before the pads bite.
But having said that if you embrace the whole e-Pedal concept, you’ll rarely use the brakes anyway. It allows for aggressive engine braking, basically removing the need for touching the brake pedal at all in day-to-day traffic conditions.
But overall the car skips along just fine, it’s the most normal EV car you can buy.
The drivetrain produces 110kW and 320Nm of torque. But of course, when it comes to EV cars everyone wants to know the range figure. As you may know we drove the Hyundai Ioniq EV until it was completely flat. This wasn’t intentional, but I’m surprised how many people ask, “so what happens”? Well here’s what happens, you stop. Just like any other car that runs on fuel. Electricity is just another source of fuel after all.
The 2019 Nissan Leaf will travel 270km based on the gold standard WLTP standard. Is that enough, yes if you’re Mr or Mrs average but no if you have long commutes.
The Leaf has charge ports that can accommodate AC Type-2 & DC CHAdeMO plugs. A MODE-3 Type-2 EVSE cable is supplied. The Leaf can be charged in three differed ways. The Mode 2 cable is for standard 15A 240V wall socket home charging.
Or you can use a mode 3 cable with a dedicated EVSE plug that enables connection to an AC charger. Then there’s a Mode 4 tethered to a CHAdeMO DC charger option for fast DC charging.
The 40kWh battery can take up to 24 hours to charge via the at home socket option, the 2ndoption will do it in 7.5 hours while via 50kWh CHAdeMO fast charging point, it will take 60 minutes, from 0 – 80 per cent.
If all that sounds complicated, well you’re right.
Nissan is also promoting the fact the Leaf is capable of Bi-directional charging. Now this may sound a tad strange but hear me out. The Leaf basically can be used as a portable battery.
An example of this is say you charge the car overnight during an off-peak period. You can then use that cheaper power in the morning by feeding it back into your home. The average Aussie household obviously varies dramatically and can range on average from 7kWh to 41kWh a day. So, kicking off your day using that stored power won’t mean the car will be flat after breaky.
However, none of the above is possible just yet. Nissan Australia is currently working with charging partners such as Chargefox. For this to be possible you will need another wall style box installed. Basically, this creates a similar situation that the Tesla Powerwall created, but the major difference is that you can actually drive this one.
The new Nissan Leaf is priced at $49,990 before on-roads. Premium paint costs an additional $565, two-tone paint requires another $990 of your hard earned. Nissan’s five year/unlimited kilometre warranty covers Leaf. While the battery is covered for eight-years.
The EFTM Scoreboard
To say that electric cars are still too expensive is stating the bleeding obvious. But at least the wheels are in motion, slowly in Australia’s case. There has been significant interest in the 2019 Nissan Leaf so far, but time will tell if people are ready to make the switch just yet. It’s an 8.5 from me.