The first generation Leaf was a brilliant car which did plenty to make us smile. It was great to drive, practical and eco friendly. But there was also plenty to cause a frown; not least its high price and limited range. Nissan has been back to the drawing board with its 2014 Leaf. The company’s made in excess of 100 improvements which make this latest model a far more compelling proposition. It’s so compelling in fact, there are now plenty of reasons you might want to take the plunge and make your next car a fully electric one.
1. The Leaf is cheaper than ever
Back in January, Nissan cut the price of the Leaf by £2,500 and introduced an expanded line-up of three Leaf models. The most appealing of these is the budget entry-level Leaf Visia which, with the Government’s Plug-In Car Grant, costs £20,490. Nissan has also made it easier to test drive the things – the company opened up sales of the Leaf to all its dealerships, so getting behind the wheel of one has never been simpler.
2. You can lease the Leaf’s battery
The Leaf’s battery is its most expensive component. So to cushion the blow to your wallet, Nissan is now offering customers the option of buying a Leaf with a leased battery pack. Buying it without the battery (you lease the battery but never fully own it) lowers the purchase price of the car to £15,990. Leasing starts from £70 per month for three years with a mileage limit of 7,500 miles annually. Paying £80 per month takes a year off the contract length and increases your mileage to 15,000. The most expensive battery lease rate costs £129 per month for 12 months with a limit of 15,000 miles.
3. The new Leaf has a longer driving range
Nissan claims the 2013 Leaf can do 124 miles on a single charge, which is an improvement on the 99-mile estimate of the previous car. It goes further in range-sapping cold weather, too; Nissan’s official stats take winter mileage from 62 to 77. Charging is faster and easier than it was before. Nissan’s enhanced domestic chargers reduce the time it takes to recharge from 8 hours to 4 hours, if you shell out the £850 for the optional onboard 6.6kW charger. Faster charges are possible. Nissan and its partners are rolling out an increasing number of rapid charging locations that can recharge your battery to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes.
4. It’s good fun to drive
The Leaf’s electric motor has mountains of torque so it feels rapid from the minute you hit the accelerator. Also, because it weighs 32kg less than the previous car, it feels more agile when changing direction. That said, most Leaf owners will find themselves trying to drive more efficiently in order to preserve range, but this in itself can be rewarding – not least because of a little ‘tree’ graphic on the dashboard that encourages efficient progress. The easier you are on the accelerator, the more more the tree grows. Floor it like a boy racer and your virtual fauna will fail.
5. It’s easy to live with
Nissan has found an extra 40 litres of boot space over the previous model, taking total storage to 370 litres — that’s 40 litres more than a Ford Focus. The interior is more child-friendly, too, with wipe-clean black trim.
6. You get free electricity to run it
The government is pulling out all the stops to convince you to buy electric, not least the£5,000 ownership grants, offers of free domestic charging boxes, zero road tax and Congestion Charge exemption. Most appealing of all is the fact you can run your Leaf on free electricity. Most city charging points don’t have any payment options attached right now (plans to charge users don’t come into force until next year), so get your Leaf to pay for itself sooner by charging away from home.
7. Gadget geek alert
Gadget fans will adore the Leaf. Its iKey hands-free key lets you open doors without having to press the key fob, so there’s no need to hunt around for keys in your handbags or pockets, and Nissan’s Carwings app lets you remotely check your battery life and turn on climate control remotely. It even has an energy-efficient, high-end Bose sound system.
8. You can probably afford one
Undoubtedly, the Nissan number-crunchers have been hard at work to try and please us. Take a look at how the Leaf compares to a comparable petrol-powered Ford Focus*. Our figures are by no means comprehensive, and they do show the Leaf’s total cost of ownership to be higher, but the numbers also suggest anyone considering a Focus may not be completely breaking the bank by opting for a Leaf — especially where monthly payments are concerned.
|Ford Focus 1.6l||Nissan LEAF Visia|
|Price||£14,495.00||£15,990 (minus battery)|
|Monthly loan payment||£129.00||£119.00|
|Fuel – Petrol vs. Electric||£45.00||£7.70 or less. (See Point 6)|
|Monthly battery lease||N/A||£70 (for 7,500 miles pa)|
|Cost per month||£129 + £45 = £174||£119+ £7.70 + £70 = £196|
|Length of loan||24 Months||37 Months|
|Total ‘fuel’ bill including battery hire||£4,176.00||£7,252.00|
|Left to pay after end of loan||£6,775.00||£4,624 *|
*Deposits and monthly car payments based on actual offers from Ford and Nissan dealerships. Monthly fuel costs calculated on the basis of both cars doing equal mileage. The Leaf, under the cheapest battery lease model, can be driven a maximum of 7,500 per year, or 625 miles per month. The cost of electricity under the British Gas Economy 7 tariff in postcode W1W 8BW (charged at night) is 6.436 pence per kilowatt/hour (kWh). The Nissan Leaf’s battery capacity is 24kWh. Therefore the cost of charging the battery to full capacity is 24*6.436=154.4 pence. The cost of driving the Nissan Leaf its full 124-mile range is £1.54. Because you’re limited to 625 miles per month under the battery lease terms, drivers are restricted to recharging the Leaf 5 times per month, on average. Its monthly fuel cost is therefore 5*1.54=7.70. The cost of fueling the Ford Focus for the same 625 miles per month (based on Ford’s claimed economy 47.9mpg and petrol costs of 1.329 pence per litre in W1W 8BW) is £45 per month.