Sales of electric cars continue to grow as people discover the appeal of petrol free motoring, and the Nissan Leaf continues to lead the pack in terms of global sales. So it’s interesting to see how the EV manufacturers are steadily ramping up battery range in order to entice more customers and destroy the terrors of ‘range anxiety’. The new Nissan Leaf Flex (U.S.) (or 30kWh or Extended Range) model is an example of just that goal, with a 25% increased range taking it up to 155 miles per charge.
The new Leaf looks just like the old Leaf. So no turning over a new … ahem … leaf here. In fact the company boasts that the improved battery specification has been achieved without changing any aspect of the battery block, which means everything fits in the same space as before. While this may be disappointing to some, it will be good news to those existing Leaf owners who like what the car has to offer. Take a look at the video below for our overview of the car.
The interior also features the same design and overall specification, although Nissan has upgraded the center console with a new Nissan Connect system and touchscreen, to make navigation (and GPS satnav functionality) easier to use. We like the Nissan satnav anyway, so this is a nice improvement to have.
The fact is, there’s very little to differentiate this model Leaf from the original except the extra range. As you’ll see from the video above it drives as quietly as the original, feels as solid on the road, and offers a great combination of surprising nimbleness and responsive steering that has made the original so popular with EV drivers. The team has clearly decided to leave (!) well alone. If it ain’t broke, as they say.
Which makes it rather hard to do a test review. The rear passenger space is still as roomy, boot space is definitely good enough for general family use and in every other respect this is a Leaf, is a Leaf. You may take exception to the large expanse of grey plastic on the dash, or feel that the exterior styling lacks a certain elegance, but even then it’s hard to argue with the over 95% satisfaction rate of exiting Leaf owners. They clearly like the quirky.
There’s no question that as far as electric cars go, the more range the better, so this new model is to be welcomed as more proof that we’re moving towards a truly viable electric car future. However it has to be said that we’re still not there yet. With a 155 mile range, you can expect a real world maximum of around 100 (especially in the winter when mileage suffers the most) which is great for clearly defined commuter hops, but not so much for random voyaging further abroad.
We’ll start cheering loudly when the typical winter range of EVs reaches 250 miles (at a family friendly, non-Tesla retail price), at which point we’ll have a silent carriage which will cope with all but the most severe long range commuters. Until then, we’re happy to report on any incremental improvements, small as they may be. Especially when they come from a car with the kind of solid reputation of the Leaf. Oh and the new 8 year, 100,000 mile battery warranty is also a nice addition, no question. But overall no real surprises. But that’s a good thing. Right?
Battery : 30kWh
Max range: 155 miles
Max speed: 144 km/h
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h – 11.5 secs
Charge time (quick charge) – 30 mins to 80%