The Nissan Leaf once pioneered the people’s EV-world, bringing us an affordable electric car at the beginning of this decade. Times have changed and other brands haven’t been sitting on their hands. Can the Nissan Leaf still keep up? Continuing the EV-spree, we test drove the recent Leaf e+.

The Nissan Leaf e+ now has a 62 kWh battery. The e+ designation stands for the larger battery pack (62 versus the standard 40 kWh) and the new 217 hp motor. That new motor is built to be more economical, extending the range to 385 kms (WLTP).

E-Pedal

Its party piece is the E-Pedal, enabling one pedal drive. A rather unfamiliar feeling at first, but mastering it is easy. In normal driving you don’t need to use the brake pedal once. Literally, it comes to a full stop when releasing the right pedal – the Watt pedal. When you come off the pedal it starts regenerating, and thus decelerating, immediately. It makes manoeuvring and changing between drive and reverse very quick and easy.

Get in, and you’ll immediately feel that the seating position is high up. That’s due to the batteries underneath. Furthermore, the seats are a little short for my likings. Also, the interior of the Leaf e+ is a mish-mash of quality materials and hard plastics. However, the Tekna equipment level makes up for a lot. Nicely upholstered seats, ProPILOT, LED headlights and Bose Premium Audio are part of the Tekna-pack.

The dashboard of the Leaf e+ is clearly laid-out and easy to operate. It displays a lot of information about the battery status and charging times. Besides that, the camera system and auto park are very intuitive to work with.

What I didn’t expect to find was a heated steering wheel, heated seats and even heated back seats. But it all makes sense, since it costs a lot more electric energy to heat the air in the cabin than to only heat those components. So these luxuries actually save some range.

What is it like to live with?

The combination of the gearless drive train and the E-Pedal make the Leaf e+ a very comfortable car, but plenty quick when you need it. Thanks to the instant torque availability, the traction control light will light up even when you won’t expect it to. It feels a lot faster than it actually is, the Leaf e+ does 0-60 mph in 7,1 seconds. The steering is surprisingly direct. However, the outer dimensions and the weight remind you of the fact that you’re in an electric family car, not in a sports car. On top of that, the Leaf e+ sits some 5 mm higher than the standard Leaf, making it more vulnerable to body roll. Just keep it in ECO mode, don’t push it too hard is the recommendation.

Press the blue button on the steering wheel and the car starts up ProPILOT, a driver aid that includes adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. It works perfectly fine on the highway and turns the car into SAE level 2 autonomous driving.

The infotainment system includes a function that can search for nearby charging points. The possibility that you can select fast charging in that function takes away all the range apprehension. Normal charging takes about 11 hours for a full charge, while the ChaDeMo socket gets you to 80% SOC in a more acceptable time, charging at just under 50 kW’s. The charge port is conveniently placed in the front of the vehicle.

So, What’s what?

All in all, the Nissan Leaf e+ is a comfortable car, perfect for every day use. Its 385 km range is plenty enough for commuting and keep you out of worries. The range makes it able to keep up with the rising competitors, and the operability certainly does. Our advise is: be nice to yourself and get the Tekna-pack.

Power/torque217 hp/340Nm
Range (WLTP)385 km
Consumption (Nissan)185 Wh/km
Consumption (tested)180 Wh/km
Price as tested (BE)€47.890

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