Gloucestershire Echo - - NEW CAR NEWS - BY ED­WARD STEPHENS

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.

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