The new 2018 Nissan LEAF was well received by the CarAdvice, however in Australia the new LEAF won't be available for another year (and if its like other EV offerings, it will cost a zillion dollars).
The overall evaluation after a thorough test drive in Japan stands at 8/10:
- Performance & Economy - 9.0
- Cabin Space & Comfort - 7.5
- Technology & Connectivity - 8.5
- Ride & Handling - 7.0
Of note: CarAdvice uses the more optimistic Japanese range metrics for the 2018 LEAF for its review. In actual fact, the EV will travel a still decent 150 miles/241 km in the real world (EPA), while the 2019 edition will see a ~60 kWh battery with a range of ~225 miles/362 km.
CarAdvice appreciates the longer range, revised cabin displays, and the improved acceleration of the electric drive in addition to new safety/assist features.
"Acceleration is frisky, especially off the line where the motor’s instantaneous torque delivery gets you up and running fast, equivalent to a proper sports car out to about 60km/h before it starts to taper. The single-speed gearing is also a novel feeling, bringing momentum on with a surge rather than gradation.
The there’s the feted ‘e-Pedal’ with energy recuperation that gives a deceleration rate of up to 0.2 g when you lift off the throttle, effectively bringing the car to a stop without braking."
On the 'con' side of things, CarAdvice says that the LEAF "could use more sex appeal", and the lack of steering column reach adjustment annoys them (otherwise the ergonomics are deemed excellent). An anticipated long wait for the EV, and the high expected price in Australia ($50,000 AUD) were also mentioned as drawbacks.
As in case of many Japanese models, the LEAF still has "hard plastics everywhere", but overall it's a decent car.
Interesting is feedback form the driving experience:
"From a ride and handling perspective, the Leaf’s revised legacy platform limits any hope of hot hatch dynamism, though for urban driving the light steering (feel-free despite new software and stiffer steering torsion bar) and silent drivetrain are ideal, even if the latter merely maximises road roar from tyres and wind."
We should note that since these are initial test drives, Nissan has stated that the feel and tuning of the LEAF on the Japanese model is unique (deadened), and ultimately the EV will be more dynamic when it arrives in Europe and the US in January.
The camera display (in the rear-view mirror) is recognized as a cool function, but as best we know, it won't be an option outside of Japan (at least right out of the gate anyway). In the end, CarAdvice advises to test it before purchase.
The ProPilot parking system again copes well in both parallel or perpendicular parking, but it's too slow in actual operation (in separate reviews, Nissan has also stated that it will be improving the speed of operation in production cars - so hopefully this issue is resolved at that time).