Turning over a New Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf has been the best selling electric vehicle in the world for several years running. 2018 marks the appearance of the next generation Leaf which features a new design and new technology. It’s also about $700 cheaper than last year’s model.
When it first appeared in Nissan showrooms in 2010, the Leaf had a range of about 117 km (73 miles). It was great for commuting around town, but road trips could be a logistical nightmare especially because charging stations were pretty spotty back in 2010. A bigger battery increased the range to 172 km (107 miles) and with infrastructure improvements, highway travel in the Leaf became much more practical.
From Frog to Prince
The design of the first generation Leaf was a bit polarizing. Some people thought it looked like a frog, and a toy one at that. However, the car’s bulbous appearance didn’t stop it from hitting close to 300,000 in global sales since 2010, making it the most popular EV in the world. For 2018, however, the Leaf has received a complete makeover. Gone is the frog-like visage and toy car appearance. The new Leaf borrows design cues from cars like the Maxima and features the V Motion grill, floating roof, and boomerang rear lights.
With its new 40 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery, the range of the new Leaf is now rated at 241 km (150 miles). While still not quite as good as its closest rivals (the Chevrolet Bolt has a 383 km range, and the Tesla Model 3 498 km with the 75 kWh battery), the 2018 Nissan Leaf has the legs to be much more than just an in town commuter. It’s also considerably less expensive than its rivals – in fact, it’s $7000 less expensive than the Chevy Bolt. Rumour is, for 2019, the Leaf will also be available with a 60 kWh battery and a range of 362 km.
So what’s it like to drive the new Leaf? Well, not only is it less expensive than the earlier model, it’s more fun and comfortable to drive. Because of the bigger battery and bigger and beefier body, the Leaf needed a new suspension which has removed some of the body roll and vague handling in the earlier version. Steering is also improved.
With its larger battery, the Leaf’s horsepower jumps 37% from 107 – 147. Torque is also better – 236 foot pounds as compared to 187 foot pounds in the first generation Leaf. That extra power and torque means the Leaf can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a very respectable 8 seconds.
Along with a stylish new exterior, the 2018 Leaf has an upgraded interior which is also freakishly quiet. The interior is made out of higher quality materials with excellent fit and finish compared with the more expensive Bolt.
It Almost Drives Itself
The 2018 Leaf also has some new technical wizardry that wasn’t available in the earlier version. ProPilot Assist is an advanced adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance system. The system maintains distance from vehicles in front, and it includes pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, and lane assist. The car can practically drive itself and will stay between the lines on its own, but you have to keep your hands on the wheel or alarms will sound and the car will come to a complete stop in 30 seconds. European and Japanese versions of the Leaf can park themselves, but that feature won’t be available on cars sold in North America.
ProPilot Assist is available on the mid level SV and top SL trim levels. On the SV, Pro Pilot is bundled with the $2200 tech package. On the top SL trim level, Pro Pilot is available as an upgrade for just $650.
One Pedal Driving
Though maybe not as sexy or obvious as Pro Pilot, the Leaf’s e-Pedal is getting rave reviews in the automotive press. E-Pedal is Nissan’s new regenerative braking system. It’s very sensitive and effective, and is a big improvement over regenerative braking systems in the competition, including much more expensive vehicles like the BMW i3.
Regenerative braking captures and stores energy when you apply the brakes. When you flip the e-Pedal switch on the center console in the Nissan Leaf, you immediately notice that the car stops itself when you take your foot off the accelerator. Until you get used to it, it feels a lot like the parking brake is on. That’s the car using its own kinetic energy to recharge the battery as you drive and slow down.
Nissan engineers designed the e-Pedal to pretty much eliminate the need for a brake pedal. The only time you really need to hit the brakes is in a panic stop situation. Otherwise, when you come up to a light or stopped vehicle, you ease off on the accelerator and the car starts to slow down and will come to complete stop if you lift your foot completely. You can feather the braking with the accelerator. It seems counter-intuitive, but once you get used to it, you’ll wonder why it didn’t become standard equipment a long time ago.
Earlier EV’s were tuned so that regenerative braking felt like engine braking in a conventional car. It felt comfortingly familiar, but some of the regenerative braking potential was sacrificed. With the Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal, regeneration is maximized. When e-Pedal is turned on, there’s a significant improvement in the Leaf’s range – as much as 20%. If you don’t want to use e-Petal, just flip the switch to turn it off.
One of the nice things about driving with the e-Pedal is you’re not constantly switching between the brake and accelerator pedals in stop and go traffic. There’s also less chance of accidental accelerations and accidents caused by a driver hitting the wrong pedal.
The Future is Here Now!
The all new 2018 Nissan Leaf is available now at Kelowna Nissan and great incentives are available. Free yourself from the gas pump and travel long range in the quiet, stylish, tech packed Leaf. Drop by today to test drive the future of electric vehicles. To find out more about the 2018 Leaf, click here.