Nissan aims for pole position in electric cars with longer-range Leaf

Wednesday, 06 Sep, 2017

Nissan took a gamble with a conservative design for its second-generation Leaf, which debuted in Las Vegas.

Nissan has announced the latest Leaf electric auto model and it's made a huge jump forward with a 50 percent increase in range, and plenty more besides.

One number that may disappoint would-be buyers is the new Leaf's limited range relative to the competition. It's a 40kWh system using a lithium-ion battery.

Another element, which may-or may not-appeal to drivers, is the option of using Nissan's new e-Pedal with this Leaf. To date, Nissan has sold 280,000 Leafs and, since 2012, 80,000 units of sister model Zoe developed with Renault SA.

To improve handling engineers moved the heaviest components, like the battery pack, in the middle of the vehicle and stiffened up the suspension by 10 percent.

The cruise control system works at speeds between 30km/h and 100km/h, helping to steer and maintain a constant speed and distance between the vehicle in front.

All in all, Nissan claims the all-new Leaf has a sharp, dynamic look along with excellent aerodynamics. It has the signature V-Motion grille on board, floating roof like other Nissan models, and projector-beam headlights with dual, direct-lens low and high beams.

Gone is the frumpy exterior design of the first-generation Leaf in favor a sleeker hatchback that incorporate some Nissan design traits of recent models with one of the most aerodynamic exterior designs in the industry. You also get a classic, dull, unimaginative interior design with switches you would get in a Navara pickup truck as well. In addition, the new driver information display has a simple, light configuration without excessive decoration. Apple CarPlay has also been added. Several breakthroughs in battery technology are likely needed before they become affordable and practical for regular consumers.

The Leaf also comes with Nissan Intelligent Mobility which combines clever gadgets with driverless kit to make driving easier than ever. As far as performance goes, Nissan only admitted the 0-100 kph time has been lowered by 15 percent, the 60-100 kph sprint dropped 30 percent and the motor comes improved for 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque - with maximum speed again limited at 87 miles per hour - 140 kilometers per hour.

Its new ProPilot Assist, Nissan's advanced single lane driver assistance technology, helps ease driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering and braking input required under certain driving conditions. This is done using four high-resolution cameras and information from 12 ultrasonic sensors around the auto.

Orders for the second-generation Leaf open "early next year", says Autocar, and is expected to cost from around £27,000. We believe it should be similar to that of the present model.