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New Nissan Leaf: Initial Thoughts

  Kelly Lodewyks


 10 Oct, 2019

Driving The New Nissan Leaf

During the recent Electric Vehicle Road Trip (EVRT) from Pretoria to Cape Town, Kelly Lodewyks managed to get behind the wheel of the new, second generation Nissan Leaf. Although not yet available in SA, there are whisperings of it being offered locally in 2021, Nissan South Africa made 3 units available for the EVRT event. Here are her thoughts.

The new Nissan Leaf was launched internationally earlier this year, and there’s no word yet on when it will come to South Africa. There are whisperings of 2021, so we’re holding thumbs. Nissan South Africa, however, managed to bring three units of this car to our shores for the Electric Vehicle Road Trip (EVRT) from Johannesburg to Cape Town. As a result, I was able to sneak in a drive of this second-generation Leaf. Here are three things that stood out for me.

It looks so much better than before

The previous generation Leaf was somewhat of an odd-looking vehicle and it certainly garnered some mixed reactions. This new version, however, is much easier on the eye and reminiscent of new Micra with sharp lines and distinctive styling. Inside, too, it feels less like a tech-driven car and more like a regular c-segment vehicle. If you’re used to modern Nissans, you will feel right at home in the Leaf.

Driving range is longer than before

Range anxiety is a real thing - something that everyone on the recent Electric Vehicle Road Trip recently experienced. While the Leaf made it to each of its destinations, it wasn’t without its hiccups as they often had to slow down to 80km/h or less in order to make it to the next destination. That being said, however, Nissan has worked on increasing the distance between er… electric charging stops to around 310km. If you’re using it as your daily commute to and from work, that would work out perfectly well. My commute is about 40km one way, so having to never refuel my car during my commute, would be great.

I love the silence

Being an electric car (with a battery that has a capacity of 40 kWh that can deliver around 112kW), this car is so quiet. I enjoy the silence of it all. I worry about people in a parking lot, but that’s for the driver to control, I guess. As with all EVs, from the minute you touch the throttle you get access to all the torque, which is available from zero RPM, and naturally takes some getting used to. I also needed to get used to the fact that the car slows itself down almost immediately when you take your foot off the throttle making use of regenerative braking (feeding electricity back into the batteries).

The Leaf is great for leisurely driving. Being an electric vehicle, you’re not going to want it to get somewhere really quickly - that completely defeats the purpose. It’s for those who want to do better for the environment at a laid-back pace. While the EVRT demonstrated that you can take it on the long road trip such as the very long route from Gauteng to Cape Town, be advised to plan well so that every charging stop is carefully mapped out and you don’t need to crawl into your next stop. Although, Evs are best suited to city driving so maybe stick to your ICE powered car for your next holiday.

Overall, I really like the new Nissan Leaf. South Africans still have a way to go before EVs become more mainstream, but the interest is certainly there. And if they continue to look as different from that strange-looking first-gen Leaf, then I’d say we’re on the right track.

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