Bri­tain’s top-sell­ing elec­tric car - the Leaf - goes even fur­ther

Gloucestershire Echo - - TEST DRIVE - By CHRIS RUSSON Driv­ing Force

ABIGGER bat­tery is be­ing fit­ted to the Nis­san Leaf and it gives Bri­tain’s top sell­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cle even more range.

The 62kwh power pack in the new Leaf e+ in­creases its sin­gle charge range to 239 miles – up from the 168 miles with the 40kwh bat­tery used in the rest of the range.

It’s also quicker with a 0 to 60 time of 6.9 sec­onds and a top speed in­creased from 89mph to al­most 100mph which gives it quite a sporty feel.

Priced from £35,895 in­clud­ing the cur­rent £3,500 Gov­ern­ment grant for low emis­sion ve­hi­cles, the new­comer is avail­able only in top grade Tekna trim and car­ries a premium of al­most £5,000 over a sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tion 40kwh model.

Changes to the sus­pen­sion – nec­es­sary to cope with the ex­tra weight of the new bat­tery pack – see the Leaf’s over­all height in­creased by 5mm but re­al­is­ti­cally there is no dif­fer­ence in ride.

The Leaf e+ tips the scales at 1.7 tonnes which is some 150kg more but it’s un­changed in looks and prac­ti­cal­ity with a roomy in­te­rior and 420 litre boot. Fold­ing rear seats in­crease cargo ca­pac­ity to 1,160 litres.

Power out­put from the mo­tor with the new bat­tery is now 217ps and that’s sig­nif­i­cantly more than the 150ps of the 40kwh set up.

Charg­ing times how­ever are now up to 11 hours 30 min­utes for a full recharge from a home charg­ing point or a fairly im­prac­ti­cal 32 hours from a do­mes­tic sup­ply – but that is rarely go­ing to be the case in ev­ery­day use.

A fast charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent ca­pac­ity takes 90 min­utes which is more re­al­is­tic but still not as quick as some other ‘long range’ EVS from the likes of Kia and Hyundai.

Nev­er­the­less, the new Leaf per­forms well and on a 50 mile run which in­cluded some mo­tor­way work the dis­played avail­able range de­creased by only 37 miles and bat­tery ca­pac­ity re­duced from 98 per cent at start to 80 by the end of the run.

Much of that was down to Nis­san’s E-pedal and Eco modes which help save en­ergy on the go and al­low for sin­gle pedal driv­ing with plenty of re­gen­er­a­tion putting power back into the bat­tery as soon as the ac­cel­er­a­tor is re­leased.

Such is the brak­ing from the sys­tem it is pos­si­ble to bring the car to a rest with­out us­ing the brake and around town it’s a great fea­ture for easy driv­ing. Disen­gag­ing the Eco mode livened up per­for­mance con­sid­er­ably but re­duced the Leaf’s range shown on the trip com­puter by some 12 miles. The Leaf is also fit­ted with Nis­san’s Propi­lot semi-au­ton­o­mous drive sys­tem which can be used on nor­mal roads as well as dual car­riage­ways and mo­tor­ways.

It works via a series of sen­sors in­clud­ing cam­eras to work out the car’s po­si­tion on the road and keep it in the right place, stop­ping and start­ing au­to­mat­i­cally.

We tried it un­der mo­tor­way con­di­tions with­out is­sue al­though it still needs the driver to touch the steer­ing wheel fre­quently to demon­strate a de­gree of hu­man con­trol as cur­rently re­quired by law.

And to ease op­er­a­tion, the sys­tem is en­gaged by a sin­gle push of a but­ton on the steer­ing wheel and switched off in sim­i­lar fash­ion.

The new Leaf e+ also marks the in­tro­duc­tion of some new fea­tures across the range which in­clude up­grades to its con­nec­tiv­ity for full smart­phone in­te­gra­tion, a larger eight-inch touch­screen and a Tomtom Live nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem that is pro­grammed to show the near­est charg­ing lo­ca­tion and its state of readi­ness.

Nis­san builds the Leaf at its UK fac­tory in Sun­der­land and in the eight years since it has been on sale some 140,000 mod­els have been pro­duced.

In the eight years since the Leaf has been on sale, some 140,000 mod­els have been pro­duced

Nis­san’s Leaf e+ now has a big­ger bat­tery.

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