To start with, it looks like a normal four door family saloon. Perhaps a little on the small side for US folk, but perfectly normal in Europe.
Inside, it’s a gadget-lovers dream – electronic dash, GPS, Bluetooth, the works. If you were expecting an electric car to be frugal with the juice, think again.
The gear stick only has three positions – park, forward and reverse – and is finished in a crystal blue that looks pretty good. In the picture, it’s the object in the bottom left.
The interior is pretty roomy, again by European standards. There’s plenty of space for four adults.
Moving round to the boot (trunk), there’s room to get the shopping in or a couple of suitcases.
That is the portable charger you can see in there. Plugs into any UK domestic 230V 3 pin socket.
Which brings us round to the front of the car. Just below the bonnet (hood), there’s a small flap which opens up to show two charging ports. The one on the right is for normal home or domestic charging, the one on the left is for commercial fast charging. Think petrol station for electric vehicles.
On the roof at the rear, there’s an optional rear roof spoiler with a solar panel which can charge the battery. From the size of the panel, I think you’d be waiting awhile to charge from flat, but I suppose every little bit helps.
Chatting to the salesman, he was using the Leaf as his daily car. He felt that the range of 100 miles was realistic and the regenerative braking was effective in returning power to the battery (and stopping the car!). The torque (acceleration) was good and the car easily kept up with other cars on the round. While he’d only driven it up to 70 mph – that’s the legal limit in the UK – the Leaf wasn’t struggling and would reach its top speed of 96 mph.
I would buy one of these in heartbeat – my daily commute is about 7 miles each way and I perhaps drive another 10 miles in the day visiting other businesses, so the 100 mile range would be no limitation. The only snag is the price. At £26,000, it’s nearly three times the price of my daily runabout when it was new and that’s even with a £5,000 discount from the UK Government for EVs. But with petrol prices being what they are – the UK pays about £1.35 per litre, that’s about $7.67 per US gallon – you can see that it can begin to look much more attractive. If the prices come down, I can see that EVs like the Leaf will sell very well as second cars for commuting and school runs.
Sitting next to the Leaf was another exciting Nissan – the GTR. Slightly different approach to motoring, mind you.
Thanks again to everyone at Charles Hurst Nissan in Belfast.