What is it?
The electric revolution continues, with more than 27,000 plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles sold throughout 2015, representing a 90% increase on 2014.
Nissan believes one of the main reasons for the increase in consumer demand is down to the number of electric and hybrid vehicles available on the market, with a total of 30 available now compared with the six options on offer back when the original Nissan Leaf was launched in 2010.
The Leaf is still regarded as a viable route into EV ownership, with a £20,790 price tag for the entry-level Visia trim 24kWh version. But now Nissan has decided to tackle the issue of range anxiety with this new 30kWh Leaf, which is claimed to have a longer, 155-mile range.
Despite an increase in the battery’s capacity, the battery unit is still the same. Nissan has introduced new cathode and electrode materials and has revised the battery’s construction in order to increase density. As a result the Leaf weighs 21kg more than its 24kWh stablemate, but performance and speed remain the same.
The 30kWh Leaf will be available in mid-level Acenta and range-topping Tekna trims only, with prices starting from £24,490 after the £5000 government subsidy has been applied. You also get the added bonus of a longer eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery.
What’s it like?
Interior quality is good rather than great, with a solid construction but a few too many hard plastics dotted about the cabin. The driver’s seat, though, is easy to adjust for comfort. Pressing the start button greets you with a charming tone as the car sets itself up.
After releasing the footbrake and selecting drive mode, the Leaf seamlessly and quietly surges away with only a very slight whirr in the background.
Accelerate hard and the sprint from 0-30mph is conquered quickly, but the Leaf feels a little pedestrian as it picks up speed, which can mean some overtakes require a little more planning. In town, however, where it’ll be used most, it is responsive enough to make the most of any gaps.
Once up to speed the Leaf is quiet and refined. Excessive tyre roar and wind noise is kept at bay, which makes driving the Leaf a relaxing experience. As the pace picks up to motorway speeds the noise level increases, but not to the point where it becomes intrusive.
The Leaf’s ride remains smooth and it handles bumps and road intrusions well, with even bigger potholes and undulations doing little to cause the Leaf to become unsettled.
On our 55-mile test route around Northamptonshire, the Leaf only used an indicated 50 miles of range, but even on this prescribed route we found ourselves sometimes peering anxiously at the predicted range. It seems only Tesla has managed to remove most of the anxiety, albeit at a far higher price.
The mid-level Acenta trim equips with the 30kWh Leaf with a host of useful features including automatic climate control, reversing camera, a 7.0in infotainment/sat-nav system and Nissan Connect, which brings telematics, nearby charging location information and the option to activate charging and the climate control via a smartphone or computer.
The Tekna-trim car we drove which benefitted from a nine-speaker Bose sound system, 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated front and rear seats and heated mirrors.
Should I buy one?
Of course, the extended range that the 30kWh Leaf provides will certainly appeal to potential buyers put off by the 80-odd miles provided by the 24kWh car. However, bear in mind that the 155-mile figure being marketed will translate to more like 120 miles on the public road.
Still, that’s plenty for most, and the Leaf remains a comfortable car around town, where it will spend the majority of its time. The pure-electric car remains a niche choice governed by how well your surroundings and daily life are set-up for ownership of one, but the UK’s infrastructure is improving.
Ultimately, if you decide to take the plunge, the Nissan Leaf now makes an even more compelling case for itself than it did before.
Nissan Leaf 30kWh Tekna
Where Silverstone; On sale Now; Price £21,490 (plus £70 per month battery leasing) or £26,490 (after £5000 government subsidy); Engine Electric motor; Power 107bhp at 3000-10,000rpm; Torque 187lb ft at 0-3000rpm; Gearbox single-ratio ‘reducer’; Kerb weight 1516kg; 0-62mph 11.5sec; Top speed 90mph Range 155 miles; CO2 0g/km
What is it?