Revealed earlier this month, here are my thoughts on the second generation Nissan Leaf:
- The exterior styling is a substantial improvement over the undoubtedly ugly frog-faced original. This new Leaf resembles a grown-up Nissan Micra, and incorporates the the same design language including the now family standard 'V-Motion' front grille.
- Having said that, the styling is still too 'meh' for me. Proportions wise, the car is too tall and narrow, and the slab-sided body doesn't help in giving the distinct impression that the Leaf is an environmentally friendly appliance rather than something you would actually want to drive. Nissan would do well to adopt some of the styling elements of the Leaf's relatively attractive Micra sibling, including the aggressive 'power-line' running through the side-profile, larger wheels and visually wider haunches.
- In the U.S., pricing for the new Nissan Leaf starts at $29,990, whilst the new Tesla Model 3 starts at $35,000. Once the waiting list for the Model 3 reduces, I can see many people paying the extra $5k for the much more appealing design alone.
- The infotainment system needs to be much better. Press photos are supposed to show a car at its best, and even they can't hide how small the infotainment screen is, with very dated graphics and a blurry, low-resolution display.
- Nissan's e-Pedal appears to be a more advanced take on regenerative braking. I can see it being especially useful in hilly areas where the driver of an ordinary car would otherwise be alternating between the brake and accelerator pedal. However, this feature really needs to be well executed for the driver to use it confidently. Nissan claims that the e-Pedal is suitable for more than 90% of the user's driving needs- but I can't see the e-Pedal being used if the braking effect is jerky or doesn't allow for some level of coasting on a flat road.
- The driving range of the Nissan Leaf is quoted as 400km in Japan and 240km (150 miles) in the U.S., despite the same battery specification. Why is there such a large discrepancy? The Japanese JC08 and American EPA testing cycles are understandably different due to differences in climate, terrain and type of driving (e.g. mostly urban driving in Japan vs urban and motorway driving in the U.S.), however, a 160km difference is huge. Perhaps a more transparent and forthcoming explanation of how the vehicle range was tested would be appropriate?