Electric car take-up has been comparatively slow, and a recent SMMT Test Day at Millbrook gave a brief opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Nissan Leaf to try one out for the first time. First impressions on pulling away were of excellent torque giving decent acceleration, with the resulting performance levels being more than adequate. Ride was smooth and well controlled, although under very hard cornering the nose occasionally seemed to push a little bit wide, not surprisingly in a car intended for more sedate urban use.
Again, fit & finish seemed very impressive, and the amount of space inside was particularly impressive, with ample space in the rear seat for a 6’ passenger to sit behind a 6’ driver, with plenty of headroom.
Clearly, in such a short drive we were not able to assess driving range, the oft-quoted curse of electric cars, however a number of improvements to the technology are claimed to have improved the range of this latest Leaf over its predecessor, including an energy-efficient heating system based on heat pump principles.
In Tekna trim, including such goodies as leather trim, Bose stereo and reversing camera, the Leaf, like all electric cars, is not cheap, at £30,445 after the £5,000 Government grant, however this must be weighed against the low running costs, ranging from free charging (on the Ecotricity network at motorway service areas etc.) to around £2 for a full charge from a domestic supply.
Although much has been written about “range anxiety”, a quick glance at Nissans interactive map of UK charging points shows that the number & coverage is perhaps more extensive that might be thought.
Whether ardent petrolheads like it or not, electric cars in some form are almost inevitably the shape of things to come. Autonews will shortly be borrowing a Leaf for a longer period to experience living with it, and look forward to reporitng our findings to you soon.