One of the first all electric cars to hit the market, the original Nissan Leaf was a game changer. The updated version is one of the best electric cars if it’s your first EV. Need help deciding if it’s the car for you? Read through our review below.
Good safety features
Impressive range on high trims
Slow responding tech
If you’re looking at buying an electric car for the first time, the Nissan Leaf is a great choice. It’s got decent range on the entry level trims, and the ‘e+’ versions offer alternative specs with a bigger battery and better range.
The exterior is in keeping with just about any hatchback you see on the road, but the interior is a little lacking. If you’re hoping for something more up-market with your new electric car, it’s probably not the one for you.
That said, there’s a lot to love about the Leaf. It’s a great environmentally friendly choice, particularly if you’re looking for a low emission car. There’s also a lot of space for a small car, and the standard tech is fairly good. On top of that, you get cheap running costs, and quick charging times mean you won’t have to wait days for your car to fire back up again.
The cheapest of the available trims, the Acenta actually offers a decent amount for your money. It comes with 16” alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and two handy rear USB sockets.
The N-Connecta lightly upgrades everything, with heated seats and steering wheel, and a full 360 degree parking camera. You get 17” alloy wheels, plus a bunch of interior tech upgrades.
The top of the range model naturally comes with all the extras you’d hope for. The Tekna comes with the ProPILOT advanced driver assistance, a BOSE audio system, and part leather seats with ultrasuede trim.
The e+ version of the N-Connecta is essentially the same model, but with a 62kWh battery, and 239 miles of range.
Similarly, the e+ Tekna takes the Tekna trim and upgrades to a 62kWh battery with 239 miles of range.
From the exterior, not much distinguishes the Leaf from any other hatchback. While some models scream electric, the Leaf has just a few identifying features.
It comes with a wide range of colour options, and you can even get the optional colour contrasting roof if you’re looking for something different.
With the Leaf, the driving experience comes down to a lot more than how the car responds. Range is a huge factor for many buyers, and will likely influence whether you go for a standard or e+ trim.
But the standard Leaf trims come with a decent range, and it’s actually a pretty quick car. Comparing the Renault Zoe vs Nissan Leaf, the Leaf easily outperforms the Renault Zoe for acceleration and speed.
The Leaf also integrates the Nissan e-pedal. This is basically where the driver can accelerate and stop the car using solely the accelerator pedal. It’s a handy feature that could make it one of the best automatic cars if you can get used to it. If not, you might find yourself getting lost on how to drive it.
The Leaf’s driving position is pretty much a marmite situation. You’ll love it or hate it.
The position is fairly high, offering increased road visibility, but the feel of a much bigger car. The steering wheel can be moved up and down to accommodate this, however can’t be moved in and out. This could be problematic if you find it sits in an uncomfortable position, as you could end up too close or too far for your liking.
If you often find yourself navigating through turns and twisting roads, the Leaf is an optimal choice. Steering is sharp and accurate, guiding you carefully along unfamiliar roads.
The Leaf has pretty firm suspension, helping the vehicle carry the weight of the battery. Generally, potholes, bumps and rough ground are manoeuvred fairly smoothly.
The Leaf has an average interior, with good tech but an inexpensive feel. Given the increasing cost of EVs, the Leaf doesn’t quite live up to the quality offered by competitors.
The interior styling of the Nissan Leaf is almost a concoction of high end and cheap. The materials aren’t going to wow you, but the plastic isn’t the worst on the market.
Moving up to the N-Connecta you get a partial faux-leather trim. This improves the feel of the interior, but doesn’t quite balance out the gloomy feel.
If you really want a quality interior, you’ll have to go for one of the top range Tekna models. These come with a leather dashboard, more modern material options and full partial leather upholstery.
The standard tech for the Nissan Leaf is pretty impressive. All trims come with the 8-inch infotainment system, which is easy to use, but reportedly slow to respond.
The general tech is good, but when you compare the Nissan Leaf vs BMW i3, the Leaf starts to look a little outdated.
Otherwise, you’ve got an array of driver assistance tech like rear view cameras. Even the entry-level model comes with Nissan intelligent key, speed limiter, rear USBs, and cruise control.
How practical you find the Nissan Leaf really depends on how you want to use the car. Increasingly quick charging times mean getting on the go quickly should never really be a hassle. It’s even spacious enough to qualify as one of the best family cars if you’re looking to go green.
Getting the right EV charger type doesn’t have to be confusing. If you’re choosing an EV and can’t find the right one, it’s best to head to the manufacturer’s site and they’ll likely have it listed under the car’s spec.
The Nissan Leaf has an on-board 6.6kW charger, suited to Type 2 AC charging.
4,490 mm L x 1,788 mm W x 1,530-1,545 mm H
The Leaf’s boot is pretty impressive for its size, with 400 litres of space. This increases to 435 litres if you take out the parcel shelf, and offers plenty of space for luggage, furniture or a bike.
However there is a large boot lip, making it more awkward to manoeuvre heavy or large items. The highest trim Tekna also reduces the boot space with the addition of the Bose stereo, which is located in the boot.
Though compact, the Leaf is deceivingly spacious. With a greater height than competitors, three tall passengers can fit comfortably in the back seat. There’s no compromising on space for the battery, as it’s placed almost directly under the rear seats.
The cost to charge an electric car is one of the huge advantages of an EV. Though the charging cost will vary by car, the cost typically works out substantially less than fuelling an ICE car, at around 4-5p per mile for charging.
Though a valid concern, charging up your electric car no longer has to be inconvenient, as electric car charging at home is easier than ever.
Charging the Leaf up to 100% will take 6-7 hours, while a rapid charger will get the battery from 20% to 80% in just 60 minutes.
|Cheapest Trim||Lowest Insurance Group||RRP|
The Leaf itself has endured few complaints, plus there’s a reassuring 5 year warranty on the electric drivetrain.
However, as an EV you do get some extra cover as standard. Nissan includes an EV dedicated components warranty that covers your lithium-ion battery, motor, inverter, VCM, reduction gear, PDM, charge connecter and cable for up to 5 years or until 60,000 miles.
For 40kWh and 62kWh batteries, you have a battery state of health guarantee covering up to 8 years or until 100,000 miles.
As an all electric vehicle, it’s important to get the Leaf serviced at the correct intervals.
Nissan recommends every 18,000 miles, however it’s worth investing in the Nissan Service Plan. This has been designed to ensure Nissan Leaf models have access to the correct maintenance, when they need it.