NISSAN POWERS UP
WE all know the old joke about how many people does it take to change a light bulb. Well in my case it was more like how many motorists does it take to charge a new Nissan Leaf. And the answer is five, and three of them were Leaf owners.
Not, to be fair, that it was the fault of the car. But when you are trying to use a public charging point - in this case at my local Waitrose - and the sun is directly on its control panel it’s almost impossible to read the instructions.
Charging station manufacturers take note.
But having conquered the problem and learned what goes where in the charging process it was plain sailing for the rest of the week.
The latest Leaf, the e+ version, now comes with a much larger battery and is designed to allay fears of range anxiety suffered by so many electric can owners.
With its 62kwh battery this long range Leaf can cover some 239 miles on a full charge, a massive improvement on the 168-mile range of the 40kwh battery fitted to rest of the Leaf range.
The downside, of course is the additional cost. The Leaf e+ is only available in top-of-the-range Tekna trim, and it’s some £5,000 more than the smaller battery model in the same spec.
But it’s not just improved range that you get with this latest version but dramatically improved performance too.
With a 0-62 miles per hour time of 6.9 seconds - a full second faster than other versions - it’s much quicker than a lot of petrol/diesel-powered hot hatches.
The top speed is also higher, up from 89 miles per hour to 98mph.
In Tekna trim the Leaf is a very well equipped car, boasting features like leather and suede seats, heated front seats, heated rear seats and even a heated steering wheel not to mention a whole package of hi-tech safety features.
There’s plenty of space inside for five people, with generous head and leg room for all as well as sensible boot space capable of accommodating 420 litres of luggage with the rear seats backs in place and 1,161 litres with them folded down.
On the road the new Leaf e+ gives a smooth, comfortable and - stating the obvious - very quiet ride.
It’s got plenty of pulling power even with five people on board, particularly if you switch off the eco drive system.
This spec model also comes with Nissan’s magic e-pedal, which means you drive just using one pedal, to both accelerate and brake.
It might sound worrying but it works exceptionally well. It just means you have to read the road ahead more. And there is a point to it because every time you take your foot off the accelerator the resultant braking puts more energy back into the battery.
And if you really don’t like it you still have a conventional foot brake, not to mention the option to turn the e-pedal off and drive the Leaf e+ as a conventional automatic.
Most buyers will opt to have a 7Kw wall box fitted at their home for quicker charging, although even this will take 11 hours 30 minutes. A fast charge from a 50Kw quick charging point, however, will double your range from under 100 miles to well over 200 in around 30 minutes.
The only problem can be if someone is already charging their car as you arrive. In which case you could be looking at an hour’s wait.
At which point you just have to hope the sun isn’t shining too brightly.