Car Tested:  Nissan LEAF Tekna 

Price from £21,900 inc. Govt. Grant (Tested £24,400) Nil  CO2

With thanks to Westover Nissan, Salisbury. 01722 448851 

Pictures and words copyright Dominic Parkes,
photographer and car reviewer for Valley News

By Dominic Parkes

Only 10 years ago, the thought of a viable electric-powered car was laughable. The idea was fairly successfully started in the 1880s in London – another example of how we, as a nation, led the way.

Sir Clive Sinclair had another go a century later with the Sinclair C5. Unless the idea of navigating busy roads and looking at HGV hubcaps on essentially a kid’s pedal car with a calculator-battery attached was your idea of fun, it was not really feasible. But it did show it could be done.

The Japanese giant Nissan presented the LEAF in 2011 and the world’s approach to electric-powered cars began to change. The original LEAF had a reptilian look to it, with its long snout and frog-like face, but it was a very practical five-seater which, if fully charged, could cover 80 miles and produce a grin with its initial surge of power. Definitely not a milk float, this one.

So here we are in 2018, and now Nissan has produced the second generation LEAF. It looks, to my eye, more conventional and less futuristic than the previous model, but that is fine as Nissan has done the job with the styling of the old model to draw our attention to the electric concept. I believe the motoring public has to embrace electric in the next decade or so, and the only hump in the road ahead is the distance between charging. Range anxiety is a real issue. It is improving and this new LEAF will cover 150 miles without having to plug in.

For many people, this will be fine, especially if they have a fast-charger fitted at home, where the car is parked off-road. But this is still the problem, as many electric cars in town, where they perform best, will be parked on the street and the implications of trailing cables across the pavement are too litigious to think about. I can jump in the LEAF and drive to Manchester or Edinburgh, but I will have to plan my trip and use fast-chargers at service stations – which is fine, but I feel the network is still underdeveloped in many parts of the country, and if the charger you are heading for is broken or busy, you are then faced with a wait or a low-loader to continue your trip.

Nissan, with sister company Renault, who produce the Zoe, are doing a fabulous job at creating easy-to-live-with electric cars, but it is being held back by the charging network in too few rural areas, so home charging is really the only reliable option. The LEAF mark two is a great car, British-built, spacious, easy to drive, easy to live with and packed with technology, including a system to recover energy when braking, or even lifting off the accelerator, called the ePedal.

The range has increased by 50% with the new 40KWH battery – which can easily provide a surge of acceleration when pulling away, and easily spin the wheels on a damp road until the traction control intervenes. And being electric, road tax is zero. More than 250,000 LEAFs have been sold and a quick internet search shows that the previous model was supremely reliable, and with a very good warranty on the battery by Nissan, and with so few moving parts to maintain, it should be a very low-cost car to run.

The interior is very good, with plenty of storage and a good, deep boot. There are three levels to choose from – Visia, Acenta and Tekna.  Even a brief test drive will tell you that the future is here and it is electric. Nissan have done the hard work by producing a really strong contender in the electric market. Perhaps we should look towards all the fuel stations to provide a few fast charging points soon. Then there will no range anxiety at all.

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