Next Green Car was invited along to the UK launch of the Nissan Leaf 30kWh at Silverstone yesterday (Tuesday 26th January), giving us another chance at an early test for the new longer-range model.
With around 12,000 UK sales, the current Leaf is the best selling electric vehicle (EV) on the market and has played an important part in increasing the growth of plug-in vehicles in the country. Since its UK launch in 2011, the Leaf has been been joined by the likes of the Renault Zoe, BMW i3, and VW’s e-Golf and e-up! in terms of pure-electric models, and a number of plug-in hybrid vehicles also to increase ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) sales dramatically in the last five years.
As a market leader then, Nissan is keen to maintain its position as a familiar EV manufacturer to the general public, and this new version of the Leaf shows its commitment to improving the offering available to consumers.
The previous generation of Leaf – the 24kWh battery model – had a quoted range of 124 miles, and a real world ability to cover around 99 miles on a single charge. The 30kWh model extends that official range to 155 miles which, although it is highly unlikely that drivers will ever achieve this figure, the real world range only drops to 124 miles – or the official range of the previous model.
When we attended the European launch towards the end of last year, we had an extended and challenging test route set up which took us up into the Alpes Maritime, with some long climbing making the range plummet before a downward section that saw us recuperate a large amount of energy. This tested the Leaf’s range to extremes and it coped very well, averaging some impressive figures. However, it was worth seeing how well the new Leaf would do on a cold and wet January morning in Britain, with muddy surfaces, pot-holes and a wide range of different roads available to deal with.
In terms of testing the biggest change to the Leaf – the increased range – the Nissan again performed well. The route was less obviously demanding, there are no mountains to climb in Northamptonshire after all, but conditions and roads represented a far more typical journey.
The car we were allocated came with a full charge and an indicated 99 miles worth of range. This low figure was explained by both a cold night and, of greater impact, the fact that the car had been used for press images the previous day, with the Leaf having weighted its indicated range to some spirited driving.
Deciding to treat the Leaf without any deference normally due to an EV, we set off on the route and drove exactly as if we were in a petrol or diesel model. The only difference was the use of the Leaf’s Eco button once acceleration was completed and we were largely up to speed. This meant sitting at around 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways for about a third of the 55 mile route.
Read more: Next Green Car