We Drive The 2018 Nissan LEAF In Japan

2 weeks ago by Inside EVs Staff 51

2018 Nissan LEAF

First Drive of 2018 Nissan Leaf – Admirable new world

There’s no point in fighting: electric and autonomous cars will dominate the world – and in less time than you realize. So, we’d better get used to the future, even if we enthusiasts are afraid of these cars that are (almost) capable of dismissing the driver. The second generation of the Nissan Leaf, the world’s best selling electric car, arrives with even greater autonomy, more power, better looks and with a lot of new technology, including semi-autonomous driving.

*Editor’s note: Our foreign correspondent, Daniel Messeder, went to Nissan’s proving ground in Oppama, Japan, to drive the new Nissan LEAF. Here’s his review.

2018 Nissan LEAFs

What is it?

The Leaf debuted in 2009 as Nissan’s bet on the then-almost-unexplored market for electric cars. Despite having an exotic design and autonomy of only 73 miles/117 km (EPA), the model has captured no less than 280,000 customers since first deliveries started in December of 2010.  Over the next 7 model years some slight tweaks were added, and the range was bumped to 84 miles/134 km in 2014, and again to 107 miles/172 km with a larger 30 kWh battery for 2016.

Now, the new 2018 LEAF bets on a more conventional style and had autonomy extended to 150 miles/241 km (EPA estimated  – 400km/249 mile on the unrealistic JC08 standard in Japan) thanks to a larger 40 kWh battery, although it still occupies the same space of the previous ones.

Editor’s Note: If 150 miles/241 km of real world driving isn’t enough for you, well…just wait longer.  Although Nissan was remiss at the 2018 LEAF’s debut to say anything, other than quickly state that a longer range version is coming next Fall; the 2019 LEAF will have a approximately 60 kWh battery, good for  ~225 miles/362 km of range – along with even greater performance.

An L2 recharge takes 8 hours (6 kW/220 V) or 16 hours  (at 3 kW), with a fast recharge option (80%) in 40 minutes. The Leaf platform is unique, but according to Nissan, it can generate a whole “family” of offspring in the future.

The design issue is no longer “shocking” as it has to do with the fact that now the electric car now longer needs to draw attention, explains Nissan engineer Hiroyuki Furuya.

“At first we had to show the market that it was a car different from the others, now we did something more of the general taste.”

In fact, the new Leaf looks like a traditional mid-hatch: modern, yes, but with lines common to other recent Nissan cars. We liked the “C” column painted bright black, matching with the ceiling and the cover trunk. The front has traces that resemble the new generation of the European Micra. But as important as form, in the case of Leaf, is function. And in this the new generation stands out with aerodynamic coefficient (Cx) of a low 0.28.

As with the first LEAFs, the new 40 kWh batteries are accommodated so discreetly that there is virtually no intrusion into the passenger cabin – except for the slightly raised floor. The Leaf is generous for four adult occupants plus one child. With the driver’s seat adjusted to my six-foot-seven frame , I was still very comfortable in the backseat, both in the head area and the legs. Also, the trunk is very good for a hatch, with 435 liters and ample access.

2018 Nissan LEAF

The Leaf displays good fit and finish in the cabin, but is low on luxuries. Door panel and dash are hard plastic, while the steering wheel is exactly the same as we found in the Kicks small crossover. The difference, for the worse, is that the Leaf’s steering only adjusts in height – and plunges when releasing the adjustment latch. I called Engineer Furuya to question this and he, visibly embarrassed, apologized to me. “We know this problem, we recognize.”

Other items reminiscent of the Kicks are the instrument cluster, with a 7″ TFT screen next to the analog speedometer, and the multimedia with 7″ screen and Apple CarPlay connection, plus the 360 ​​degree camera system that helps when park. While on the Leaf, parking is a task it cares for practically alone.

Pro Pilot Park is the name of the new Nissan automatic parking system. Regarding the various “park assist” that we know, the advantage of this is that it does not need other cars or tracks on the ground to make the reading of the parking space. In addition, Leaf knows how to stop in parallel and perpendicular waves, reading more than one position for you to choose. Then just click on the parking space you want in the multimedia and keep pressing the automatic parking button that it will be in charge of placing the car in the space you want.

This is only possible thanks to the 12 ultrasonic sensors installed around the car, and also to the 4 high resolution cameras. They are also sending information to the semi-autonomous driving system Pro Pilot. So let’s drive and see how the whole thing works.

2018 Nissan LEAF

How does it drive?

Before I took command, Pro Pilot took me for a ride. We entered the Nissan track behind an Infinity and all I did was keep my hands (light) on the steering wheel. The Leaf kept the stipulated distance from the front car and was riding at the same speed, even stopping alone, and then resumed acceleration (just a light touch on the accelerator). The system runs between 18 and 62 mph and, unlike other semi-autonomous ones I’ve ridden, it actually turns the wheel to make the turn (not just pulling the steering into light curves). It just takes your hand to be on the steering wheel – due to legislation, because theoretically it would not need it.

Then it was my turn to guide – and with point the Leaf brings news too. There is the e-Pedal, a button-activated function on the console that causes the car to decelerate by up to 0.2 g when we release the throttle until it stops completely (including up and down). It is somewhat similar to that found in the BMW i3, but with greater emphasis on “braking”, in addition to being able to be turned off. The idea of ​​Nissan is that you do not have to keep alternating between the accelerator and the brake in traffic, making driving more relaxed. According to the brand, you can drive 90% of the time without stepping on the brake. In fact, I took two full laps on the track without using the second pedal, which is there for emergency braking. Impressive how quickly I got used to the convenience provided by the system.

2018 Nissan LEAF

Another attraction of the new Leaf is in the electric motor itself, which was stronger than the previous one. With 150 hp of power and 320 Nm of torque, the car responses are quite agile, albeit smooth. It accelerates with decision, using the fact that electric motors deliver 100% of its torque at all times. So, in silence, Leaf makes the speedometer pointer rise as if it had a good gasoline turbocharged engine, giving the driver a smile. From 50 to 75 mph on the track it was only a few seconds, showing that overtaking will be easy in “real life”.

Also:  Nissan notes it takes 30% less time now to get to 60 mph (at around 8 seconds), but most of those gains are net (thankfully) on the top end.

In spite of the good performance, the priority of this Nissan is comfort. The suspension is soft and quiet, and still offers a nice car feel well posted on the road. Even on the smooth track of the Japanese test track, it was possible to notice the smooth running of the Leaf, including passing through the asphalt grooves. In speed, we hear only a little wind and the tires on the track, no trouble in the cabin. In a quick slalom we noticed that the Leaf tends to go out in closed corners, with significant body roll, but nothing that compromises the good ride and handling of the model.

2018 Nissan LEAF

Should I buy one?

If you looking for an electric car, the answer is definitely yes. The new Leaf is no doubt an impressive evolution of the first one: stylish, more comfortable, better to drive and more than twice the autonomy. The semi-autonomous system works well and the e-Pedal is perfect for urban traffic.

In Japan, the new generation of the electric hatch went on sale on October 2 and has already accumulated more than 19,000 orders. It costs 3,990,600 yen, or equivalent to US$ 35,000. US sales start in early 2018 at a base price of $29,990. You can reserve yours now here.

By Daniel Messeder, from Oppama (Japan)

2018 Nissan LEAF pricing/basic specs US

*Travel by invitation of Anfavea

2018 Nissan LEAF

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51 responses to "We Drive The 2018 Nissan LEAF In Japan"

  1. mx says:

    Nice.
    Fallback plan if the Tesla is too expensive for me.

  2. Stimpy says:

    “The system runs between 18 and 62 mph”

    Wait, what? Are you saying pro pilot DOESNT WORK AT ALL outside this range?! That would make it utterly uncompetitive!

    1. Leccyfez says:

      That’s due to Japanese regs, euro and US models will be higher

      Calm down… Lol

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      100 km/h (62 mph) is top speed limit in Japan.

    3. effects says:

      i drove the pro-pilot model this past weekend at 70mph in california. pretty nifty feature. not sure if i’d pay for it though

  3. Four Electrics says:

    Has it really been seven years since the LEAF was launched? The first mainstream EV, beating even the Model S to market.

    1. ffbj says:

      ..and the Model S with no competition in the luxury segment, still the King and the X the Queen, with no heir apparent.

      1. springer says:

        Maybe Telsa will have no heir, but first usurper is coming in June 2018, the Jauguar I-pace. Next, second usurper to throne, Audi e-tron in September 2018. Hyundai Kona EV is coming November 2018. Mercedes EQC is coming in March 2019, followed by Volvo SPA-60-90 EV in May 2019. September 2019 Porsche will release their Mission-E. This is not counting cool plugin hybrids like Volvo’s Polestar 1 which is already in production. So no worries, Tesla is being flooded with competition at all levels

        1. EVShopper says:

          The competition is ICE vehicles. EVs are the Home team.

        2. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

          The Kona is Bolt-sized, so it really doesn’t compete much with any of Tesla’s models…

          1. EVShopper says:

            Model 3 is not significantly bigger than the Bolt on the inside, other than shoulder room, as a wider car. By interior measurements, both would be midsize.

      2. Car Buddy #1 says:

        Your statement is based solely on the fact that your stuck in the air noise floats with the assumption that the LUXUARY segment if vehicles is the majority…it is not. Dose Tesla have Lineage of over 200,000 units? Is Nissan firing workers and contractors because production can’t be made?

        NO is the answer.

    2. William says:

      Unabashedly and mater of factly, Yes.
      Seven, long in the tooth, YEARS!

      No neeed to innovate or exite, on anything resembling the Tesla time schedule, on their affordable 200 mi. + Model 3 offering . Only two years behind The Chevy Bolt in the 200+ mi. range club.

      Leaf is leading from behind in the 200 + mi. range race, with its value leader coming soon just like so many ICE OEMs.

  4. Stephen Hodges says:

    Might be worth editing the “30% gain in the time it takes to get to 60mph” to not sound so much like it’s got slower?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Heeh, kinda a double negative/inferenece happening there. Nutshell: the LEAF is 30% quicker to 60 mph. Will fix that up now, thanks for the note!

    2. Jason says:

      I’m pretty sure my 2012 does 0-100kmh somewhere in the 7.5-8sec mark. How is this 30% quicker?

      1. Glen says:

        First Generation Leaf did 0 – 62 mph or 0 – 100 km/h in about 10.3 seconds. Never quicker.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          This is true, there was a lot of confusion just before the original LEAF launch about the 0-60mph (probably thrown off by the 0-30mph pick-up), but it was promoted at ~10 seconds

          …it actually got a little worse in subsequent years as the output profile of the US build cars was altered for range/tirewear (the 2013 US model had 187 lb-ft, while Japan had 207 lb-ft in 2012), there was some random talk at the time that the 2013 built in the US would be as good/better than the original in pick-up, but in reality – not so much.

          For whatever its worth, if you want to do apples-to-applies from Nissan (not that their numbers were accurate, most OEMs understate these days), they pegged the 2016 LEAF at 10.4 seconds.

          1. Asak says:

            Yeah, the problem with the Leaf has always been that it runs out of Steam above about 30 mph. 0 to 30 it can blow away most non-sport ICE cars. It also has instant throttle response, unlike the half to full second delay you experience in an ICE, which makes it feel quicker. However, overall acceleration at higher speeds is not particularly strong.

      2. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Cd of 0.28 again?

        First Gen LEAF came out with a Cd of 0.28, then during the Car and Driver’s tunnel testing, it was found to be around 0.32.

        So, is this the same tunnel that gave the LEAF 0.28 Cd last time? =)

  5. Chris Holmquist says:

    When I test drove it the sensors for the self driving and pilot assist didn’t work in the rain. Knowing engineers they probably thought “Well we understand how it works so does everyone else. It worked for us and it’ll always work”

  6. Jim Weaver says:

    Don’t say ‘autonomy’ when you mean ‘range’. Autonomy obviously has another meaning, especially with regard to electric cars.

    1. Mr. M says:

      Autonomy means beging free to do what you like and are not bound by constrains. The biggest constraint in an BEV is the short range at the moment. So entwisting range and autonomy makes a lot sense.

  7. M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD says:

    Interesting to see ProPilot coming out — beating AP 2.0 performance.

    It’s nice to have multi-lane and door-to-door automated, but it really does appear to be quite some time away as Tesla can’t get to parity

  8. Spoonman. says:

    A more…consensual style? What? Hopefully that was supposed to be “conventional”.

    1. Asak says:

      I suppose the Leaf got sick of being molested by all of the Teslas, so it decided that it liked it.

    2. Tom says:

      You aren’t being forced into buying it out of guilt?

  9. EVShopper says:

    Limited power, torque, and range. I would go for the Bolt over the Leaf. But I’ve decided to hold on ‘till 2020 and see what options are available. I have my daily commuter EV (low range) and our AWD small wagon ICE (just paid off, and nice not having a car payment). I really want to replace the ICE car with something a little bigger and AWD, and EV. But nothing is in my price range that fits that bill.

    1. Lawrence says:

      Wow you’re like my doppelgänger. I have the Audi Avant with AWD for distances and vacations and an eGolf for my daily, which is EOL this month. I was going for the Bolt until I teat drove one and now certain it will be the Leaf. Wife is getting the Model 3 first production build.

      1. Lawrence says:

        PS the Avant was just paid off as well.

  10. James P Heartney says:

    Broken record, but the main problem with the Leaf drivetrain is still the lack of active thermal management for the battery pack. This decreases battery life in hot climates, and also limits the usability of quick charging. Really a shame that Nissan won’t address this.

    1. Joe T. says:

      This is so pertinent, yet where are the press cries? Nissan has been cutting corners across their car lines, admits it, promises better, and then this? So strange. New customers, be warned. Don’t even consider this EV if you live in a hot climate.

      In 2020, will the Leaf brand be so tarnished that Nissan won’t be able to compete credibly in the EV market? Did I say “So strange”?

  11. unlucky says:

    ‘using the fact that electric motors deliver 100% of its torque at all times’

    That’s only true of electric motors in the same manner in which it is true of ICEs.

    The torque curve for an electric motor is a falling ramp (from low to high revs). This is because the motor can produce full power at all rotational speeds (within reason). As the revs rise, the torque drops because power is torque multiplied by revs.

  12. John Ray says:

    I actually got to drive the new LEAF on Saturday. It is very nice, but then I still love my 2012 LEAF. The cars are very similar which is not a bad thing in my opinion. Overall, I would say it is a worthy successor and will probably sell well. It will appeal to current LEAF owners and should bring new customers into the fold.

    ProPilot was cool, but it got a little too close to the lines for my taste occasionally. At one point we were following a car that decided to make a right turn. ProPilot slowed our car until the other car turned and then resumed to the set speed. Another thing is that if ProPilot disengages, it will re-engage automatically unless you tell it otherwise. For instance, When I put on my blinker to change lanes, ProPilot disengaged. Once the lane change was completed, ProPilot resumed automatically. Cool.

    E-Pedal was nice and even works in reverse. It was easy to get used to. My only worry is that I would forget to use the brakes when I got back in my LEAF.

    Otherwise, the cars are very similar in terms of driving dynamics though I will say that the new LEAF is both smoother and quieter – more refined. They’ve moved some things around like the cup holders and the center storage is smaller. I don’t get the new speedometer, but that’s not a big deal. Outward visibility is excellent. Overall, I think the car is a winner.

    In terms of speed, I couldn’t tell much difference, but then I have a Japan built 2012 which is supposed to be quicker than the later Tennessee built Leafs.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions and maybe I can answer them.

    1. Alan says:

      Was the EPA stated mileage correct, one YouTube video tester stated he managed 6 miles per kWh ?

      Is there a well in the trunk area ? Do the rear seats fold flat ?

      Thanks

      1. John Ray says:

        I did not check the efficiency. Sorry. From what I could gather from the test drive, there are two modes just like in the old LEAF – D and eco. I believe E-pedal works in any mode and with Pro-Pilot. E-pedal is more for driver convenience and I don’t think it adds any efficiency. I don’t think there is a manual regen option like on a Volt. I also don’t think there is a coast option, but I really didn’t look for it. I suppose you could always shift to neutral.

      2. John Ray says:

        Oh, and if by well, you mean a hidden area beneath the floor, I didn’t look. I will say that the cargo area is much larger than on my 2012 LEAF. The girl conducting the test drive with me has a 2016 LEAF and she said it is larger than hers as well. I didn’t bother to fold down the seats. The one we test drove had the Bose system and the amplifier or whatever it is sits right on the bottom of the cargo area. I’m not sure I like that.

        My wife and 15 year old daughter both said the rear seating area was roomier than my 2012. No heated seats for the back, however. The leather and interior are much nicer than what I remember from my Bolt test drive.

        Again, I will say that overall it is very LEAF-like, but better in pretty much every way.

        1. Alan says:

          Thanks for that,

          I didn’t like that Bose thing in the trunk area either !

    2. Alan says:

      Also, without e-pedal engaged, can you coast (i.e. disengage re-gen) ?

      Are there any other forms of re-gen on the car apart from e-pedal (i.e. paddles to raise or lower re-gen).

      Many thanks

      1. effects says:

        Also, without e-pedal engaged, can you coast (i.e. disengage re-gen) ?

        – when i test drove it, it still regens with e-pedal engaged, just very lightly to simulate a sort of engine braking/coasting in an ICE

        Are there any other forms of re-gen on the car apart from e-pedal (i.e. paddles to raise or lower re-gen).

        – no, no other pedals or regen on command buttons besides the physical brake at your foot

  13. Martin T. says:

    A worthy contender, looks like for those with bigger wallets the 2019 with later battery will be the go for those that need even greater distance.
    Well done Nissan.

  14. ram1901 says:

    An American living in Japan did a reveal of the new Leaf and found that Pro-pilot only works about 50% of the time. Many times it would not engage and it would often disengage at the slightest uncertain situation.

    It it far from being on a par with Tesla’s AP1 and as of this week, Tesla’s AP2 v.42.xx and v.44.xx.

    The air cooled battery is a deal breaker as is the 150 mile range under best conditions.

    The new body design is a plus but that goofy shifter is really annoying.

    Model 3 still blows away the Bolt, Volt, Leaf, i3 in design and engineering. Of course the roll out is going to be a lot slower than many had hoped.

    1. Lawrence says:

      A lot of effort and words just to say that anything designed contrary to a Model 3 is junk to you.

    2. Glen says:

      I believe the reveal you refer to was on a youtube video. If its the same one I think we need to remember that it was a preproduction model he was driving.

      Comments made by motoring media and social influences who have experienced both cars have expressed positive experiences about the Leafs Pro-Pilot. They also say they would like to have a comparison done side by side between the new Leaf and a Tesla before passing judgement as to which is the better system. A better way to judge I should think.

      An online American electric vehicle site asked its users to forward to them detailed and documented history of the extreme degradation of Leaf batteries and they were given only ONE substantiated claim. I don’t doubt there were some problems with the first battery packs in the Leaf but no-where near like some people make out and no way was it as frequent as the one eye Tesla fans make out. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tesla’s are a fantastic car. I just won’t be bashing other brands with exaggerations to prove it. TeslaBjorn, a youtube blogger, took a Leaf out for a 600km drive in one day and whilst there was a temperature increase in the battery it wasn’t the end of the world. The 150 mile range appears to be on the low side of real range use, I’ve seen youtube clips of people getting 110 to 115 miles from the 30 kW battery Leaf which is quoted at 107 miles. And with this new battery Nissan has improved the battery chemistry which should help with temperature control. And when you consider how many thousands of dollars cheaper then the Tesla the new Leaf is, and that it comes with a much larger cargo capacity and the ability to add technology at a reasonable cost – it makes it a very good package.

      I’m also amazed that they’ve sold 19000 in Japan in just under 2 months! With European orders that means it must getting close to 30000 orders or 15000 a month – without USA or China markets. That’s a success in anyones book.

      1. Alan says:

        It’s not available yet in all of Europe until Jan 18, it should sell extremely well once it does here and in the US (apart from Arizona of course !)

        One you tube tester said he got around 6 miles per kWh as far as range was concerned so 150 miles seems on the low side ?

      2. unlucky says:

        Just because someone got more than the rating in a video doesn’t mean the rating is on the low end of the real world figure.

        It’s really easy to get longer than rated rang in an EV. Just drive slowly and don’t use the climate control. But that doesn’t mean the EPA rating isn’t real-world.

        1. Glen says:

          The video showed the Leaf travelling at the posted highway speeds with aircon on. At least the one I watched did.

      3. Lawrence says:

        Not worth wasting time arguing with a Fanboy. You won’t change their minds.

        If it has TMS then the issue is the shifter, or the cup holder, or the trunk is too big or it’s too small, or that the shade of white is too dark compared with a Tesla.

    3. John Ray says:

      As someone who has experienced Pro-Pilot first hand, I thought it worked OK. Granted, I only had a little while with it. It picked up the lines and cars quite well. It did disengage at median openings when it didn’t have a car to follow, but it reengaged immediately once it had reestablished the lane. It had no trouble braking and steering on its own. I have only read about Tesla’s system, but from what I gather it has its own share of issues including hard braking for overpasses.

      Honestly, I was about done with the LEAF as I have had mine for over five years and I think I am ready for something new. However, after the test drive and thinking about it, I may go ahead and reserve a new LEAF with all the bells. I don’t think there is another car out there with this level of technology and ease of use for anywhere near this price. This is the ultimate commuting machine.

  15. Benz says:

    Nissan Leaf sales in Japan in October 2017: 3,629

    That’s pretty good.

    Toyota sold just over 10,000 units of the Aqua and the Prius in Japan in October 2017. These are the two best sold car models in Japan in October 2017.

    The Nissan Leaf will gain more popularity in Japan in 2018 and beyond.

  16. EVShopper says:

    If you want your forums to take off, you should get rid of the comment sections and just link to the forum post.

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