Unveiled in Las Vegas last September, the new 2018 Nissan Leaf is about to arrive in Canada, six years after the arrival of the first generation in 2011. Although there hasn’t been a huge increase in sales numbers in the EV segment over that period, there has been some growth.
The arrival of electric cars with greater range offered at a more reasonable cost than a Tesla, for example, partly explains this trend. We have the Chevrolet Bolt and its 383 kilometers of range, and we can also include the Hyundai IONIQ in the lot with its available 200 kilometers. We could include the new Volkswagen e-Golf in the lot as well.
And now there is the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the latest generation of what was the pioneer of electric cars in the country. It has certainly improved in every way although some believe that greater range would have been needed to truly make the LEAF stand out. Let’s take a closer look.
For starters, the 2018 Nissan Leaf sees its battery capacity increase from 30 kWh to 40 kWh which gives it a range of 241 kilometers. That’s about 80 kilometers more than the previous model, but still far from the leader of the pack, the Chevrolet Bolt.
Except that the 2018 Nissan Leaf is available starting from $ 35,998 before government incentives. That’s about $ 7,000 less than the Chevrolet Bolt. The question then becomes: how much are those additional 140 kilometers worth?
Every buyer will have to ask themselves that question. Ultimately, several studies have shown over the years that the average distances traveled daily by motorists are often well below 100 kilometers. In the evening, EV owners plug in their car and thus regain complete and generally sufficient range for the next day’s trips, whether it’s 241 kilometers or 383 kilometers.
So, it looks like if you’re an average motorist, the 2018 LEAF, you don’t really need that extra 383 kilometers, especially if it will cost you a week-long vacation for a family of four to a Club Med or something. Of course, that one’s on you to decide.
Goodbye residential charger with the 2018 Nissan Leaf
One of the most interesting features of the new 2018 Nissan LEAF is that it no longer requires the installation of a residential charger to enjoy quick charging at home.
Indeed, it is possible to connect directly to a 240-volt outlet and thus recharge the battery in 7.5 hours. With a 120-volt outlet, charging takes about 35 hours, but let’s not talk about that.
Avoiding the installation of the charger saves a few thousand dollars and offers the possibility to get a quick charge when we are not at home more easily. All you need is a 240-outlet, and you’re all set.
A fun drive
When Chevrolet introduced the Bolt more than a year ago, the American automaker talked a lot about how it was a fun car to drive, and its handling was nothing like other EVs. They were dead on. The Bolt is actually quite fulfilling from a driving dynamics point of view. But the 2018 Nissan Leaf is not far off.
Indeed, the 2018 Nissan Leaf features precise handling and a solid and predictable behavior. This is perhaps the thing that impressed me the most when I first drove the car in the San Francisco area.
The old LEAF was not sporty at all, and it really didn’t like to be pushed. The new 2018 Nissan LEAF behaves much more like a traditional car. Think Honda Civic or Kia Forte, and you will get an idea of how it behaves out on the road.
It is also more comfortable in my opinion than the Bolt which is somewhat bouncy. The cabin is however less spacious without being disappointing. The driving position is quite high which gives good visibility and increases driver confidence.
In terms of performance, the instantaneous torque of the electric motor developing 147 horsepower is quickly felt and results in immediate accelerations that are sometimes too quick for the tires. Nothing too serious, though. What is certain is that this thing jumps forward as soon as you hit the accelerator.
The 2018 Nissan LEAF is equipped with a one-pedal control system called e-Pedal that essentially allows you to drive the car using only the accelerator. When you release the right pedal, the car slows down with the same force (or almost) as if you pressed the brake. You have to get used to it a bit, but after a few minutes it was my favorite driving mode.
There is also a Normal driving mode and a driving mode named “B” that increases energy recovery when slowing down. This is the ECO mode if you want.
The new LEAF also features ProPilot Assist technology. This is the first Nissan vehicle sold in North America to incorporate this new driver assistance device. ProPilot is actually three devices. There is an automatic braking system, a lane departure system and an adaptive cruise control system.
ProPilot is therefore able to automatically brake for you should another vehicle slow down or brake suddenly ahead of you, for example, and also keep the vehicle in the center of the lane even when there is a turn. Adaptive cruise control makes sure to maintain a predetermined distance with the vehicle in front of you and will automatically slow down to maintain that distance if necessary.
Personally, I can’t criticize the Nissan LEAF for its lesser range than the Bolt. Some colleagues are of the opinion that Nissan was surprised by Chevrolet and that the 241 kilometers of range are insufficient, but I think it is up to the consumer to decide. I know that I am far from needing to travel more than 200 kilometers on a regular basis and when I have to travel further, it’s to go to Toronto, Detroit, or New York from Montreal.
For these trips, I would not take an electric car. So for me, I would use the extra $ 7,000 for some fun in the sun and I would go with the LEAF.