The Nissan Leaf is the electric car with the name that’s always spelled out in block capital letters on all the advertising billboards: and here’s why. Because the name of the world’s best-selling EV is actually an acronym. Turns out they didn’t just dub it in honor of Carlos Ghosn’s favorite rubber tree pot plant after all.
Where the second-gen Leaf improves on the original
On the face of it, certainly a ‘LEAF’ that continues to be worthy of those capital letters. Having increased this car’s battery range by 50%, motor power by 40% and torque by 25%, Nissan has actually reduced prices on the Leaf by up to $1500, depending on trim level.
Granted, the car still relies on the UK treasury’s $4500 buyer incentive to make good its business case. But taking that deal into account, the bottom-rung Leaf now comfortably beats an entry-level combustion-engined Audi A3 Sportback on power, performance and list price, regardless of whether you prefer the Audi in petrol or diesel form.
Where the Leaf falls down when compared with the proper premium-branded mainstream hatchbacks against which it’s priced continues to be inside. The car’s driving position is improved but still feels oddly perched (because you’re sitting, even up front, directly above the drive battery) and still lacks telescopic steering column adjustment. Perceived cabin quality’s a shade improved from the outgoing car’s standard but it’s still way off where it ought to be for the price.
At least you get a better instrument cluster this time around, from the base Visia model up. The digital screen has a display you can customize, which makes getting the best out of that electric powertrain that much easier.
Entry-level cars also come with 16 steel wheels, halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights, electric windows, lane departure and blind spot warnings, and manually adjustable seats. Stepping up to the Acenta adds 16 alloy wheels, front fog lamps, a leather steering wheel, cruise control and a 7 infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
The mid-range N-Connecta includes 17 alloys, electric folding wing mirrors, synthetic half-leather seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and object-detecting 360-degree parking cameras. The top-end Techna model gains full LED headlights, black leather interior, heated seats and steering wheel, an electronic parking brake, and a 7-speaker BOSE sound system, as well as Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous drive modes