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The second generation of the UK's bestselling electric vehicle might be ready to move from trailblazing, but ultimately niche, eco-curiosity to mainstream fleet player.
16in steel wheels, e-pedal, AEB, cruise control, auto air-con, wipers and headlights, USB and AUX
17in alloys, ProPilot semi-autonomous driving, intelligent 'around view' monitor with moving object detection and intelligent driver alertness, LED headlights, electric-fold mirrors, parking sensors, leather seats,
7in touchscreen sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bose Premium Audio
150hp 110kW + 40kWh battery
Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta,
(2.Zero limited edition), Tekna
Nissan has spent considerable time learning from its Mk1 Leaf - on sale in the UK since 2011 - to eliminate reasons for customers to reject electric vehicle (EV) ownership in general and the Leaf in particular.
Firstly, the Mk2's new exterior design is smarter, and more in line with Nissan's regular internal combustion-engined models, rather than quirky and polarising, like the Mk1's.
Secondly, the battery is bigger - up to 40kWh from 30kWh - equating to a greater 235-mile range on the NEDC test, or 168 miles on the new and more real-world WLTP test. Thirdly, power is usefully increased from 110 to 150hp.
Finally, where the old model was a drive-yourself, slightly disconnected vehicle, the 2018 model features semi-autonomous driving skills, and Apple and Android connectivity.
"Even when driving like eco-marathon madmen for well over half of our test, we still only retained 36% charge at the end."
Nissan UK sold 6,000 of the outgoing Mk1 in the first nine months of 2017 before running out of supply, and expects to at least double that figure with the new version, 30% of which is earmarked for fleets. Deliveries start this month.
Prices start at £21,990, after the £4,500 government grant, for the fairly basic trim Visia, but with automatic emergency braking and the clever new 'e-pedal' laudably included. They rise to £27,490 for top-spec Tekna, including 16in alloys, 7in touchscreen sat-nav and semi autonomous ProPilot tech.
With the greater range of the Mk2 - up from 124-155 NEDC miles to 235 miles - drivers will need to install, upgrade or have good access to a new sub-£1,000 7kW wall box at home or work (prices are yet to be confirmed).
Charging time has been shortened to 5.5 hours from the previous 6.6kW wall box that took 7.5 hours. A three-pin-plug 10A domestic supply now takes an unfeasible 21 hours to get to 100%. A 50kW quick charger can get to 80% in about an hour, but is bureaucratic in terms of planning and hole-digging, and expensive, costing anything from £5,000 to £50,000. Nissan's extra solution for fleets is a mid-range 22kW wall charger that requires no planning and can 'rejuice' in two hours.
Pricesare yet to be announced, but should be "in the low £1,000s, plus the day rate of an electrician", says Nissan Europe's electric vehicle director, Gareth Dunsmore.
Inside and up front, passenger space and ergonomics are good, apart from a lack of steering wheel reach adjustment (there's only rake adjustment), while in the back, the angle of the car's sides adversely affects rear shoulder room for broader folk. The top-spec Tekna's Bose stereo robs 15 litres of boot space from the 435-litre 'rear seats up' figure too.
Still, the new Leaf is generally a rela car to be in, with firm-ish steering, good suspension, a quiet motor and decent ride. It's fun to use Nissan's interesting new e-pedal too. Activated by a switch near the gear selector, it adds sufficient regenerative stopping power to the right-hand foot pedal to render the left-hand brake pedal almost redundant. It's still quick to accelerate (0-62mph in 7.9 seconds) and so smoothly calibrated that regenerative braking doesn't come with a jolt. You could easily use it for every journey. 'Eco' mode and a more intense regenerative 'B' gear selection preserve battery life further, but are less smooth.
Beware real-world range though: even when driving like eco-marathon madmen for well over half of our roughly 100-mile test, we still only retained 36% charge at the end. Others driving more normally ended up nearer 20%. Bank on 130-150 miles before having to recharge in regular, mixed driving.
The Leaf Tekna also has a ProPilot semi-autonomous driving mode that steers, accelerates and brakes for you, similar to Volvo's system. However, drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel; the car will get increasingly beepy if you don't. Nissan's kit works pretty well, aside from one section where road markings were less clear and we had to intervene. Overall, though, the new Leaf really has moved the relatively affordable EV game on, and is well worth serious fleet consideration.
Nissan Leaf 40kWh Tekna
On sale January 2018
Range 235 miles
CO2 (BIK band) 0g/km (9%)
BIK 20/40% a month £48/£96
Boot space 435/1,176 litres
Battery size/power 110kW/150hp
Bette design, tech, range and power
Good access to a wall box charger is now essential