Nis­san Leaf

Overzeal­ous driv­ing aids are start­ing to get bleep­ing an­noy­ing


Turn that bleep­ing bleep off, please

WHY WE’RE RUN­NING IT To see if Nis­san’s ad­vanced the cause of EVS at the af­ford­able end of the mar­ket

The Leaf’s in­di­cated range with a fully charged bat­tery has be­gun to drop as the weather has cooled down, as is the case with most elec­tric cars. Dur­ing the sum­mer, I’d nor­mally ex­pect to see be­tween 160 and 170 miles show­ing on the in­stru­ment dis­play, but re­cently it’s been down to around 145 miles.

That still leaves me able to cover plenty of miles be­tween recharges, so I’m not overly con­cerned, as long as the in­di­cated fig­ure doesn’t drop much more. How­ever, I’ve found my­self look­ing en­vi­ously at the claimed 300-mile and real-world 260-mile ranges of the new Hyundai Kona Elec­tric 64kwh (see road test, page 32) and think­ing how much more con­ve­nient that would be…

Even with what sud­denly seems like a fairly medi­ocre range in com­par­i­son with the Kona’s, the Leaf con­tin­ues to be an ideal car for ur­ban use, mainly thanks to its plush ride and spa­cious in­te­rior, both of which are much bet­ter than you’ll find in ex­ist­ing ri­vals such as the Volk­swa­gen e-golf.

Much as I like the way the car drives, though, I’m notic­ing more and more things about the Leaf that ir­ri­tate me to some de­gree, tak­ing the gloss off what would oth­er­wise be a very sat­is­fy­ing own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence. And quite a lot of the blame lies with the car’s many elec­tronic driver aids, which don’t seem very well adapted to life on Lon­don’s ridicu­lously nar­row, twisty and over­crowded streets.

The au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, while be­ing a highly com­mend­able safety fea­ture, is prone to in­ter­ven­ing far too of­ten for my lik­ing and in sit­u­a­tions that seem com­pletely safe to me. For ex­am­ple, it hap­pens ran­domly as I’m driv­ing up to the bar­rier to get out of our multi-storey car park, go­ing at snail’s pace and do­ing noth­ing dif­fer­ently from any other day. The AEB also re­acts if you go for a gap that it deems too nar­row, as well as to pedestrians and parked cars if they’re in front of you as you go around a bend in the road. It’s not only frus­trat­ing but also makes me feel as though I’m not fully in con­trol of the car.

Then there are the park­ing sen­sors. When the bat­tery pack isn’t be­ing recharged, I have a habit of park­ing in a quiet cor­ner of our car park, with the left­hand side of the car up against a wall, and the park­ing aids are ob­vi­ously con­ve­nient as I’m back­ing into the space.

The prob­lem is that they aren’t smart enough to know when they’re no longer needed. Jump back into the car later and the side and rear sen­sors start scream­ing again the in­stant the gear se­lec­tor is put into Drive, forc­ing me to hit the ‘off’ but­ton ev­ery time. The same is true if I’m driv­ing down a nar­row road with parked cars at the sides. Pre­vi­ous cars I’ve run, such as the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport, had much less pre­sump­tu­ous sen­sors than the Leaf’s.

I could also grum­ble about the un­nec­es­sary num­ber of alerts when you open a door or the boot and the fact that you have to ac­cept or de­cline some­thing to do with data telem­at­ics on the touch­screen ev­ery time you start the car, but I won’t, be­cause the Leaf cer­tainly isn’t alone in do­ing such things. How­ever, they aren’t mak­ing me feel as warm and fuzzy about the Leaf as I would be if its driv­ing man­ners were the only con­sid­er­a­tion.

Sen­sor doesn’t de­ac­ti­vate af­ter park­ing

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