Added: 23rd of November 2016
Note, no engine although the review asks for a cc of 400-plus A new adventure with the Leaf which is a second car. It is very well equipped, spacious inside, plenty of headroom, comfortable and easy to drive and a lot of fun. The 30kw battery is advertised by Nissan as giving up to 155 miles range but practically it is more like 110; but that is more than adequate. Useful communication via App to turn on heating etc remotely on a cold morning while still plugged into the charger; timer ensures it charges using off peak electricity; you can even plan a route remotely and it loads on to the car's sat-nav; keyless entry; instant warmth from the heaters/demisters; excellent air-con all make for a very comfortable and easy car to own. We lease ours (and the car isn't cheap) although the Government subdsidy of £4,500 helps and there is also an OLEV grant of £500 towards the cost of installing a home charger (ours is from Chargemaster). And of course zero road tax (even after the new tax regime expected to start in April 2017) is a big incentive. Many public charging points are free (if you subscribe to Ecotricity for your home energy you get a cashback if you own an electric car and free use of the 50kw motorway chargers which pump in around 80% charge in half an hour. Many Chargemaster points at shopping centres for example, are free) so you can undertake a long journey at pretty much zero cost. And while a long journey might need a little planning to ensure you reach charging points this hasn't been a problem although if there are more electric cars on the road it might be. One issue can be that some internal combustion engine cars use charging points to park which is a nuisance. Performance is excellent - the top speed of 98mph is more than adequate and as all of the torque is applied to the motors at once if you floor the accelerator, acceleration from the lights is astonishing for a car of this size. And it does it in total silence. We have the Tekna version with Bose sound system which is superb, even better given the only sound is a little tyre noise from some road surfaces and muted wind noise. No sound from the engine, because it doesn't have one... However, if you are using aircon or the comfy heated seats and steering wheel for example, that will shave half a dozen miles off the range while if you drive aggressively, your range will drop pretty dramatically. Take it easy though, select 'B' drive for maximum regenerative braking and you can cover a considerable distance at normal traffic speeds. If you are low on power you can select 'Eco' drive which restricts power and ekes out a few more miles. And if the worst comes to worse, you can always ask a householder or trader if you can pinch some electricity to get you to a proper charge point, it comes with a 13-amp plug!! The Leaf has been in production for five years now and its design in my view is beginning to look a little dated and the dashboard displays are slightly gimmicky (such as the tree saver icon) but that doesn't take away the fact that this is an excellent car. We compared it when looking for an electric with the BMW i3 - and while the latter is quite funky, has smarter performance and sharper regenerative braking, it doesn't have a lot of space (especially for things like pushchairs) and only two back seats - while the pillarless doors are not terribly easy. The Leaf however is of a conventional hatchback design - it is a genuine five-seat saloon with plenty of boot space, although the boot sill is a bit awkward. I believe Nissan are re-vamping the car and will relaunch it some time in 2017 or early 2018 with a 200 mile-plus range. That is something to look forward to and once range passes the 200-mile mark on a single charge for Leaf-sized vehicles, it begins to make the all-electric choice more mainstream in competing with conventional cars. Exciting times for electric cars - there are some interesting developments from the likes of Tesla, JLR, VW and others, as well as Nissan. All in all, there is little to dislike about the Leaf - we absolutely love it. You will too, you just need to be brave and take that first step. A test drive will convince you...