The first thing you notice with the new Nissan LEAF, is that it doesn’t actually look like a Nissan LEAF.
The rounded and curved styling of the first-generation LEAF has made way for straight lines and angular features. Either by its more aerodynamic getup, its sporty body kit, or a mixture of the two, the new LEAF appears to sit closer to road and definitely looks pacey.
And when sliding behind the wheel, you find an equally cushy interior. For a relatively small car, the use of space is genuinely impressive – something that can’t be taken for granted as a bloke in excess of six feet.
Black panelling gives the cabin a smart and clean appearance, with little touches of light blue trim here and there that give subtle impressions you’ve opted for an optional interior pack.
How it looks and how it drives, however, can be two different things. But in this case, they match up.
On the road with the new Nissan LEAF
The driving modes are selected using a drive selector, a round knob sitting on a rotatable base. From the park position – achieved by pressing the ‘P’ on the selector – the car can be put into drive by simply sliding the knob to the right and then down.
For a system that at first seems like it may be complicated, the gestures are actually very easy and give the feel of something you’d expect to find in a car much cooler than one that shares its name with a plant.
And when you’re on the move, ‘ease’ becomes a frequent trait of the Nissan LEAF. The steering is light, similar to the city modes you can find in small hatchbacks, and the car seems to glide into each turn.
Electric car tech is improving all the time
Despite the single drive train and lack of gears, I was surprised by the smoothness of it. The electric motor quietly hummed its way along the road, and when riding at 30mph the pedal didn’t need any negotiation in sticking to the limit.
And that’s not to say the LEAF can only hack street-to-street driving, it performs just as well – if not more impressively – when given the opportunity to stretch its legs. You can see where this is going.
It must be said, the car isn’t just quick in comparison to other battery-based rivals. It fares well against the petrol and diesel alternatives that it’s increasingly putting pressure on.
For that reason, the Nissan LEAF is one of the cars featuring in the Lookers Electric Charge – a journey across Lookers’ dealerships in the UK and Ireland using only electric motors, to raise money for automotive charity Ben that supports people in the automotive industry.
Whilst raising awareness of the charity, the challenge is also putting electric cars in the spotlight. So far the LEAF’s been a favourite, and I can see why.
When you swap the streets for dual carriageways and it gets towards 50mph it stops sounding like an air con unit and starts sounding like a spaceship. If anything, the noise only enhances the futuristic feel.
Gadgets and gizmos
And that continues through the extras that come with the Nissan LEAF. If even two pedals are too many, the e-pedal feature will allow you to accelerate and brake using only one. Press to go, lift to stop. Like a blender, but a techy blender that’ll manage a fair bit more than strawberries and broccoli.
Nissan ProPILOT will keep the car centred in its lane and also change its speed, autonomously. Going even further than that, ProPILOT Park will quite literally park for you.
The Tekna variant – the spec I test drove – also comes with Traffic Jam Pilot that’ll keep pace with stop-start traffic, and there’s even the NissanConnect EV app that you can use to set your car’s temperature remotely, among other nifty features.
Despite the tech involved still developing, the new Nissan LEAF couples smart styling with impressive extras that’ll appeal to many looking to ditch diesel and petrol.
What the LEAF actually does is take an automatic car, a setup that’s already the easiest way to drive, and make it even easier.
For more on the new Nissan LEAF, have a neb at https://www.lookers.co.uk/nissan/new-cars/nissan-leaf/.