In-depth reviews

Nissan Leaf hatchback review

“Now in its second generation, the Nissan Leaf is a clever EV with an impressive driving range, useful technology and plenty of space. It broadens the appeal of electric motoring”

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.5 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Improved driving range
  • Good value for money
  • Easy to live with

Cons

  • Some cheap plastics
  • Less distinctive looks
  • Slightly firm ride

From being seen by many as a quirky outsider, the Nissan Leaf has become an electric force to be reckoned with – it was Europe's best-selling electric car in 2018. Now into its second generation, the Leaf continues in its quest to 'normalise' electric cars – but does it offer enough to attract drivers away from diesel and petrol?

Best electric cars

Looks-wise, the Leaf straddles the middle ground between the conventional Hyundai Ioniq Electric and the more out-there styling of the Polestar 2. With its sharp lines and blue '3D mesh' front grille, the Leaf is sufficiently interesting to stand out from regular family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus or Peugeot 308, but isn't so wild-looking as to alienate those who don't want to be labelled by their choice of zero-emissions motoring.

The standard Leaf is capable of a maximum range of 168 miles (under the new WLTP testing regime), while the e+ claims a range of 239 miles. Battery charging won't take forever – with the smaller battery 40kWh Leaf a 50kW quick charger will give you 80% capacity in around 40 minutes. Home charging is rather slower with a full charge from a 6.6kW wallbox taking 7.5 hours. The larger capacity 62kWh battery in the Leaf e+ takes around 35 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% capacity using a 100kW rapid charger, with a 6.6kW wall charger taking 11.5 hours to achieve a full charge.

Both of those range figures eclipse the Mazda MX-30 (124 miles) but the Ioniq Electric is a little better than the standard Leaf thanks to a range of 174 miles, while the new Volkswagen ID.3 manages at least 205 miles. Changing climatic conditions can have an effect on range, but the Leaf should be able to manage around 150 miles between charges in standard guise, even in poor weather and real-world traffic – enough for many drivers to commute for a week.

Inside, there’s a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and simple dashboard layout, with Nissan’s familiar infotainment system taking centre stage. It's far from unconventional, and you could almost be in a Nissan Qashqai, if it weren’t for a stubby gear selector based on the original Leaf's, along with a blue ‘engine’ start button. The dials are unique, too, with an analogue speedometer sitting in the right of the instrument cluster, flanked by digital readouts for media and the electric powertrain. The interior quality isn't quite up to the standards of some rivals – with some cheaper looking plastics making it look a little dull while lacking the quality feel of an ID.3. What the Leaf lacks in interior storage space, though, it more than makes up for with a good-sized boot.

The standard Leaf has 148bhp and gets from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, while the e+ has 214bhp and gets to 62mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds. Acceleration feels smooth and easy, making it perfectly at home on UK roads, while the steering is light but accurate. The suspension has to be quite firm to accommodate the weight of the battery pack, but still rides well enough, with only the most jarring imperfections reaching passengers. Nissan says the Leaf is some 30% quieter than rivals with a petrol or diesel engine.

The line-up starts with the Acenta model, which comes with equipment including cruise control, alloy wheels, a reversing camera and a large sat nav touchscreen. Mid-spec N-Connecta adds a Tech Pack, which includes systems to make jobs like parking easier, heated seats and tinted windows, while top-spec Tekna offers LED headlights, a Bose audio system, extra safety kit and part-leather upholstery. It’s worth noting that the e+ model is only available with the N-Connecta and Tekna trims.

To extend the Leaf's potential driving range, Nissan has introduced something called an 'e-Pedal', which allows you to drive with just the accelerator in almost all circumstances. This is activated by the driver and allows you to slow down and come to a halt just by gradually easing off the accelerator, with the conventional brakes only needed for more sudden stops. It also features Nissan's ProPilot self-driving tech, and a self-parking system - both of which work very well and are easy to use.

The original Leaf was the first electric car to score five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing, and its successor has managed to repeat the result. That’s even more impressive given how much tougher the test has become in recent years. Finishing 24th in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, owners praised the Leaf’s safety features and strong practicality but were critical of the overall driving experience.

If the Leaf’s target is to make electric driving accessible to more people, it scores a direct hit. With an attractive design, sensibly proportioned interior and longer driving range, it isn’t an EV for committed environmentalists only. Buyers after a petrol or diesel Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus should seriously consider the electric Nissan.

See how this car scored on our sister site DrivingElectric

Recommended

MG 5 EV estate review
MG 5 Estate
MG 5
26 Jul 2021

MG 5 EV estate review

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review
Citroen C3 Aircross SUV
Citroën C3 Aircross
26 Jul 2021

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review

Land Rover Defender SUV review
Land Rover Defender V8 SUV front 3/4 tracking
Land Rover Defender
23 Jul 2021

Land Rover Defender SUV review

Top 10 best cars with three ISOFIX points 2021
Peugeot 3008 SUV
Family cars
22 Jul 2021

Top 10 best cars with three ISOFIX points 2021

Most Popular

Best automatic cars
Blue BMW 3 Series driving
Best cars
21 Jul 2021

Best automatic cars

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook
V5C close up
Tips and advice
22 Jul 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook

More on Leaf

London Congestion Charge exempt cars
Volvo XC60
Best cars
2 Jul 2021

London Congestion Charge exempt cars

If you’re after a London Congestion Charge exempt car, our run-down picks 10 of the best
Best used cars
Vauxhall Astra
Family cars
14 Jun 2021

Best used cars

If you’re after a used car, we’ve selected a range of excellent models that hold strong appeal on the secondhand market
Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Electric cars just keep improving, with longer ranges and shorter charging times. Here are the best electric cars on sale now.
Nissan Leaf prices cut for revised plug-in car grant
Nissan Leaf
Electric cars
6 Apr 2021

Nissan Leaf prices cut for revised plug-in car grant

Nissan latest manufacturer to reduce prices, ensuring Leaf is eligible for the discount
Best used hatchbacks
2014 Skoda Octavia in blue driving around a corner
Family hatchbacks
12 Feb 2021

Best used hatchbacks

Cars like these are easy to park, spacious, well-equipped and cheap to run. We pick out the best used hatchbacks
Nissan Leaf 10th anniversary special edition starts from £28,820
2021 Nissan Leaf10 - 10th Anniversary special edition - front dynamic
Nissan Leaf
1 Feb 2021

Nissan Leaf 10th anniversary special edition starts from £28,820

Special edition Nissan Leaf10 gets revised styling, more standard equipment and upgraded technology
Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest
Jeep Cherokee SUV
15 Dec 2020

Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest

Take a look at the best and most memorable special edition cars
Nissan Leaf hatchback: old vs new
Nissan Leaf
21 Aug 2020

Nissan Leaf hatchback: old vs new

The mk1 Nissan Leaf was the world's best-selling electric car - how does the new one compare?
Nissan Leaf named Britain’s best-known electric car
Nissan Leaf
17 Apr 2020

Nissan Leaf named Britain’s best-known electric car

Tesla seen as the most innovative electric car company by DrivingElectric readers
Best small company cars
Best cars
4 Mar 2020

Best small company cars

Our list of the top 10 small company cars will ensure your monthly Benefit-in-Kind bills are kept in check.
Nissan Leaf 40kWh models now £1,650 cheaper
Nissan Leaf
19 Dec 2019

Nissan Leaf 40kWh models now £1,650 cheaper

Nissan has reduced the price of all its 40kWh Leaf models, bringing the price down to £26,345
Top 3 used electric cars for £8,000
Top 3 used electric cars for £8,000 - Carbuyer
Smart ForFour ED hatchback
23 Aug 2019

Top 3 used electric cars for £8,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I need an electric car that won’t cost the earth, that’s also easy to live with. What does £8,000 buy?”
Price of Nissan Leaf e+ announced
Nissan Leaf
2 Apr 2019

Price of Nissan Leaf e+ announced

A new 62kWh battery pack gives the Nissan Leaf greater range and performance
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense pre-production review
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense pre-production side tracking
DS 3 Crossback
25 Mar 2019

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense pre-production review

We've sampled a prototype Crossback E-Tense to gauge how it could stack up against the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona Electric
Top 3 used electric cars for £13,000: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-up!, Renault ZOE
Nissan Leaf
12 Oct 2018

Top 3 used electric cars for £13,000: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-up!, Renault ZOE

"Dear Carbuyer. I've retired from work and would like to switch to an electric car. What would you recommend for £13,000?"
New 2018 Kia e-Niro electric SUV: specs, price and on-sale date
Kia Niro
2 Oct 2018

New 2018 Kia e-Niro electric SUV: specs, price and on-sale date

Choice of two battery capacities for Kia e-Niro electric car – up to 301-mile range claimed
Used Nissan Leaf buying guide: 2011-2017 (Mk1)
Nissan Leaf
8 Jan 2018

Used Nissan Leaf buying guide: 2011-2017 (Mk1)

The Nissan Leaf was the first mainstream electric car, and families can save money by picking up an affordable used example
Nissan Leaf prices start below £22k
Nissan Leaf
2 Jan 2018

Nissan Leaf prices start below £22k

Full Nissan Leaf electric car model range is on sale now
Nissan previews forthcoming autonomous technology
Nissan Leaf hatchback
27 Oct 2017

Nissan previews forthcoming autonomous technology

Next-generation ProPilot self-driving system expected in Nissan models by 2020
Charging points to be mandatory on garage forecourts
Renault ZOE
24 Oct 2017

Charging points to be mandatory on garage forecourts

A Government bill will ensure electric vehicle charging points are more commonplace across the UK
Nissan Leaf Nismo hot hatch could rival Focus RS
Nissan Leaf
3 Oct 2017

Nissan Leaf Nismo hot hatch could rival Focus RS

A high-voltage Nissan Leaf Nismo is on its way, with performance that could upset the petrol-engined Ford Focus RS
Nissan 'switch scheme' supports used EV buyers
Nissan Leaf hatchback
1 Sep 2017

Nissan 'switch scheme' supports used EV buyers

Nissan offers incentives across range – including new cars and used Leaf EV
Nissan Leaf hatchback (2011-2017)
Nissan Leaf hatchback
19 Jan 2017

Nissan Leaf hatchback (2011-2017)

"The Nissan Leaf is quiet, comfortable, easy to drive and incredibly cheap to run. It marks a milestone in the development of electric cars"

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks