Nissan injects sporty cues into its latest Leaf to reel in younger buyers
Nissan’s dedicated all-electric car gets more power and double the driving range of its pioneering predecessor.
Itdoesn’t look as gawky as before… That was probably one of the missions of Nissan designers when developing the second-generation Leaf, seen here in official pictures handed out this week.
As Nissan is trying to inject some sporty cues into the new Leaf — the predecessor somehow failed to attract the young — the car has been made longer and wider but lower by margins of 15mm, 20mm and 10mm accordingly. The exterior design was inspired by the ID Concept.
The wheelbase length of 2,700mm is the same as before, due to a carried-over platform. But the floor plan has been rejigged to accommodate various electrical bits in more ideal positions for better packaging and driving dynamics.
The cabin features the usual hatchback seating layout and versatility, plus a new 7-inch TFT screen to operate various functions. The steering wheel is similar to those in Nissan’s other B-segment hatchbacks like the Note.
How has the Leaf evolved technically?
While the basic formula remains the same — drawing energy from the socket, storing it in a battery, using it to power an electric motor to drive the car — the Leaf has gained a new high-density lithium-ion battery pack to allow for more performance and driving range at the same time.
Maximum power has been raised to 150hp, some 20-40hp greater than before, depending on the battery size of the predecessor. And with 320Nm of torque available from standstill, the Leaf can hit 100kph from standstill in about eight seconds, more than three seconds faster than before.
Nissan says the new Leaf has a touring range of 400km under Japan’s JC08 driving mode. Of course, other countries have less optimistic driving cycles. But after some calculations here and there, it’s safe to assume that the driving range has practically doubled that of the first-gen model. This is one of the key messages that Nissan has been trying to convey in a market full of new players going EV.
A quick recharging system lets the Leaf get 80% of its juice within 40 minutes, according to Nissan, while the minimum time with the conventional method is eight hours.
New features to enhance driving include an e-pedal that aims to promote one-pedal driving. Capable of being switched off by the driver, the system applies mild braking when the driver lifts off the throttle — something that can already be found in other EVs like the BMW i3.
Additional features include ProPilot driver-assist technologies that not only make parking a doddle, but also let the car accelerate, brake and change lanes on highways by itself.
When does it go on sale?
It’s quite difficult to say for Thailand. Although an attractive tax rate and some industrial privileges have already been put in place by the government, the charging infrastructure for EV motorists barely exists.
Makers of small-selling luxury EVs may not actually be bothered by that fact, but it surely concerns mass-market brands that need to make EVs in large numbers to justify their Thai investments.
In the meantime, Nissan will be widening its EV selection based on the Leaf in the coming months and years for global markets. After going on sale in hatchback form later this year, an SUV body is set to join the range and is reportedly to be previewed as a concept car at October’s Tokyo motor show.
Volkswagen is another brand that has hinted at a multi-body strategy for its new EV family. Hatchback, MPV and SUV body styles have already been previewed with the ID banner. A sedan version is set to appear in Frankfurt next week.
And now that BMW is offering a go-faster model of the i3 called i3s, Nissan is preparing an E-Plus version of the new Leaf next year. Kitted body parts from Nismo are also in the pipeline because they help grab the attention of younger buyers.
The steering wheel is similar to those in Nissan’s other B-segment hatchbacks. The most optimistic touring range for the Leaf is 400 kilometres.