Nis­san turn a new Leaf as drive to elec­tric picks up speed

The Corkman - - MOTORING IN 2018 -

NIS­SAN re­cently un­veiled their brand new elec­tric Leaf. A sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from the cur­rent model on looks and power, the 5dr hatch is due to hit the Ir­ish market next Fe­bru­ary.

At a time when elec­tric power is re­garded as the ‘fu­ture of mo­tor­ing’, the new Leaf ’s ar­rival could hardly be bet­ter timed. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how it fares in the new mo­tor­ing cli­mate.

The car’s new e-pow­er­train now gives it a 40kWh ca­pac­ity (up 10kWh) which boosts its range to a claimed 378km (on the so­called ‘ New’ Euro­pean Driv­ing Cy­cle) be­tween charges.

You can ex­pect the price to be in­creased too when Ir­ish de­tails are re­leased. The cur­rent model starts at €21,490 for the 24kHh ver­sion (199km claimed range) and €24,490 for the 30kWh (250km range).

In­ter­est­ing that the Ja­panese price will be ‘ largely in line’ with the cur­rent one when new tech and spec are taken into ac­count, of­fi­cials here in Tokyo are say­ing. That sounds en­cour­ag­ing for Ire­land too but tak­ing tech and spec into ac­count is usu­ally what pushes up the price any­way. I think pric­ing will be crit­i­cal for this new car and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how keenly the Ir­ish dis­trib­u­tors can pitch it.

In terms of drive, the fig­ures sug­gest it should be a lively, if silent, mo­tor as the e-pow­er­train in­creases torque (to 320Nm) and power (now 150PS).

How­ever, the time it takes to charge the new high-tech lithium-ion bat­tery pack will be four hours longer - up to 16 hours on a home socket from zero – than the cur­rent one. Im­por­tantly, though, it takes up to eight hours with a 6KW home charger. A quick charge to 80pc on the public sys­tem can take as lit­tle as 40 min­utes. It has a claimed top speed of 144 kmh.

There will be a higher-power ver­sion with larger bat­tery ca­pac­ity and longer range – and at a higher price of course – to­wards the end of 2018/be­gin­ning of 2019.

This new Leaf looks and feels like a larger car now even though it is only a bit longer, wider and lower and on the same plat­form as the cur­rent one.

And the de­sign of the cabin gives it the typ­i­cal ‘mod­ern Nis­san’ treat­ment. There is a clean dash and more than a sense of ex­tra space – ex­cel­lent rear room I found. Nis­san claim it can carry five peo­ple in de­cent com­fort; four adults I’d say. And there is a large boot. Good pack­age all round.

It also looks much more like a main­stream Nis­san than the cur­rent model. Sharp, crisp lines re­mind me of the Qashqai and Pul­sar from the side and the Mi­cra at the back.

Apart from the elec­tric ve­hi­cle side of things there are some im­por­tant el­e­ments in the new car too:

*The e-Pedal technology is a key de­vel­op­ment. It al­lows you to start, ac­cel­er­ate, de­cel­er­ate and stop just by ad­just­ing the pres­sure of your foot on the ac­cel­er­a­tor. When the ac­cel­er­a­tor is fully re­leased, both re­gen­er­a­tive and fric­tion brakes are ap­plied au­to­mat­i­cally, grad­u­ally bring­ing the car to a stop. Nis­san say the car holds its po­si­tion even on steep slopes un­til you press the ac­cel­er­a­tor again. But, of course, you still have to use the con­ven­tional brake pedal for sud­den stops.

*A ProPI­LOT driver as­sis­tance sys­tem, for use on sin­gle-lane driv­ing on high­ways, is claimed to make driv­ing eas­ier in heavy traffic.

* ProPI­LOT Park can con­trol steer­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion, brak­ing and gear se­lec­tion to au­to­mat­i­cally guide the car into a park­ing spot.

There is also a new in­ter­face on the smart­phone app so you can mon­i­tor the car’s state of charge, find the near­est charg­ing sta­tion and pre-heat or cool the car be­fore driv­ing. And there’s a new-look of the 7-inch, full-colour (TFT) dis­play. Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto fea­ture in the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

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