Tesla broke a serious milestone just lately by racking up 300,000 electrical automotive gross sales all over the world, even because it struggles with manufacturing points as we speak.
You understand who else has bought that many? Nissan. And it did it with only one mannequin. The Leaf. Certain, it took eight years, however contemplating what Nissan needed to work with that’s fairly spectacular.
When the Leaf debuted in 2010 it was the primary and solely electrical household automotive of the fashionable period, however resembled a slug, was as gradual as one and solely went 73 miles per cost. Nissan finally bought that as much as 107 miles, however that also paled as compared with the modern Teslas that later got here onto the scene and will go two to 3 instances farther earlier than plugging in.
However the Leaf was low cost, comparatively talking. You could possibly get one for much lower than $30,000 in the US as soon as all the federal government spiffs have been added up, which made it lower than half the price of a Tesla Mannequin S. It will definitely discovered over 110,000 houses right here, 11,000 of them simply final yr, even if the previous automotive of the long run had turn out to be one of many oldest vehicles on the street. It’s not anymore.
The 2018 Leaf is all-new, and it’s about time. The $36,995 Chevy Bolt has been enjoying in its sandbox for the previous yr, and someday quickly you would possibly be capable of get a Tesla Mannequin three for $35,000 earlier than incentives. The Leaf begins at $30,875, which finally ends up being $20,875 in California and as little as $18,875 in Colorado, when you subtract the entire accessible tax credit.
The redesigned, American-made Leaf seems to be extra fashionable than the previous one, and but extra typical. The styling of lots of Nissan’s passenger vehicles are just a little outlandish today, and in that context it suits proper in. Apart from the little nub of a gear selector knob it carries over from the final Leaf, there are additionally few hints within the cabin that you just’re on the helm of essentially the most distinctive automotive within the firm’s lineup, and holding it easy is definitely one option to hold prices down.
One other is to not spend an excessive amount of on the batteries. The headline in regards to the new Leaf is that it goes a lot farther than the previous one, however nonetheless not very far. The brand new EPA ranking is 151 miles per cost, which expertise has led Nissan to imagine is lots for the Leaf’s core viewers, whereas broadening its enchantment with out making it too costly. In contrast to different automakers, Nissan claims to make a revenue on electrical vehicles, so it deserves the good thing about the doubt on that time. It is going to take a look at uncharted waters when it introduces a pricier model with a 200-plus-mile vary subsequent yr that may higher compete with the 215-mile Mannequin three and 238-mile Bolt.
At the moment’s Leaf wants about 7.5-hours to recharge its 40 killowatt-hour battery pack on a 240-volt charger, whereas one of many few and much between DC quick charging stations that it’s suitable with can fill it to 80 p.c in 40 minutes, however stops there to maintain from frying it.
I used each sorts on the identical day. The previous for an hour to get sufficient juice right into a near-flat battery to achieve the latter 10 miles away. I didn’t plan my drive in addition to I ought to have, which was a reminder that with solely 151 miles to depend on, it’s finest to have an itinerary in thoughts earlier than you set off. Handily, the navigation system is loaded with the placement of charging stations by sort.
Whereas I used to be charging, a last-generation Leaf pulled as much as await me to complete. This was a clumsy expertise for me as a beginner, however I finally broke the ice and let the driving force begin gushing over my automotive. Seems he had simply gotten a deal on his as a leftover and was lots inexperienced…with envy.
The Leaf is in regards to the measurement as a Nissan Sentra — they really have the very same wheelbase, and that makes me go “hmmm” like its electrical motor – and is not as roomy, however does have extra again seat room and cargo house than the previous Leaf.
With a bump in energy to go along with its added vary, the front-wheel-drive Leaf can speed up to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. That’s two seconds faster than the previous Leaf might and about the identical as a Sentra. A wholesome and quick 238 lb-ft of torque from its near-silent 147 hp electrical motor sees to that.
I occurred to win the jackpot and get a Sentra from a rental automotive company the day after I had the Leaf, and it was a brand new depressing expertise. You don’t notice how loud a traditional economic system automotive is in so some ways till you’ve gone electrical, and I typically just like the Sentra. Nissan additionally builds the Leaf like a rock, with no squeaks or rattles, and solely at freeway speeds does the wind make its presence identified.
The heavy battery pack offers the Leaf the trip high quality of a bigger automotive, in a lot the identical approach that a 5,500-pound Bentley GT is smoother than a similarly-sized, however ton lighter Chevy Camaro. The delicate suspension that goes with it doesn’t assist the dealing with, nevertheless it’s spot-on for the each day grind, which a few options make much less coarse.
First, there’s the E-Pedal, which is Nissan’s branding for one thing that just about each electrical automotive can do. That’s use the electrical motor to gradual the automotive once you let up on the accelerator, so that you don’t must press the brake until you actually need to cease NOW. It’s referred to as one-pedal driving, and it’s the best way to go when you get used to it. It additionally generates a couple of treasured further volts of electrical energy to recharge the battery just a little with each time you decelerate. You’ll be able to flip it off, if it’s not your factor.
Then there’s the elective ProPilot Help, which was launched this yr on the Nissan Rogue. It’s a semi-autonomous driving support that may steer the Leaf lifeless heart in a well-marked lane and never run into the automotive in entrance of it. It’s a must to hold a hand on the wheel for it to work, and may pay shut consideration for when it disables, however on the freeway you possibly can go for miles with out exerting any vitality of your individual.
To get it, you’ll must spend a minimum of $35,575 for a Leaf SV, at which level you would possibly wish to maintain off for the longer-range mannequin that’s on the best way, or take a look at the Bolt. However when you personal and love an previous Leaf that wants changing, this yr’s mannequin is healthier in each approach.
That man on the charging station is simply going to must deal.
2018 Nisan Leaf
Base value: $30,875
As examined: $37,865
Sort: 5-passenger, Four-door, front-wheel-drive hatchback
Motor: 110 kW AC synchronous electrical
Energy: 147 hp, 238 lb-ft
Transmission: Single pace computerized
MPGe: 125 metropolis/100 hwy