Fleet News

First Drive: European Nissan Leaf

Nissan
BIK List Price
£20,990
Nissan Leaf BIK list price
BIK Percentage
N/A
Nissan Leaf BIK Percent
CO2
N/A
Nissan Leaf CO2
Combined MPG
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Nissan Leaf MPG

Review

The original Leaf was praised for its fine ride, responsive steering and instantaneous torque so it will come as no surprise to learn that the ‘new’ Leafhas merely evolved into something lighter and more efficient, now travelling for up to 15 miles more on a single charge. It is also cheaper, with the most basic Leaf costing £20,990 (inclusive of the £5,000 Government grant) rising to £25,490 if you want the range-topping Tekna trim level. Trim levels? Yes, that’s right, you can now choose between three trim levels: Visia, Acenta, and Tekna.

If that’s still too expensive, Nissan now gives customers the option of buying a Leaf without a battery. Leasing the battery not only removes any lingering doubts about its longevity (although it is warranted for five-years or 60,000-mile warranty and is assembled, like the car, in Sunderland), it also knocks £5,000 off the price. The cost? From £70 a month, depending on mileage.

Other changes include redesigned front seats to give rear-seat passengers more foot-room, a black interior, a bigger boot, a more efficient heater, and a redesigned charging point. ‘Eco’ mode helps stretch range and ‘B’ mode boosts regenerative braking; both work well although few would choose Eco mode if they were in a hurry…

But this fiddling does little to address the elephant in the room; a Leaf might be worthy but is it logical? Well, yes. Sort of.

Given the restricted range and need to maintain a battery charging regime the Leaf won’t suit all fleets. Local Authorities, for example, might have the mindset to exploit the Leaf’s virtues - congestion charge exemption, nippy city speed performance, zero tailpipe emissions, and free road fund licence - but other fleet managers might be less accommodating, at least until the national charging network improves.

While the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) predicts the number of public charging points will double within the next year, the number of EVs remains low making the case for investment in a national charging infrastructure harder. This keeps the demand for electric vehicles artificially low – and it takes a brave fleet buyer to spend money on technology that might not provide sufficient benefits (financial or otherwise) to warrant the risk.

Virtuous engineering (and the Leaf is beautifully executed with Rolls-Royce levels of NVH) has its place, but for now the risk of turning over a new Leaf might not be worth it for many business buyers. Which is a shame, but entirely understandable.

By Carlton Boyce

CO2 emissions
Assuming you ignore the CO2 emissions created when electricity is produced at the power station, the Leaf doesn’t produce any CO2 in use.
Fuel costs
Nissan claim that a full charge costs around £2.20, or less than two pence per mile.
Residual values
Range anxiety, fears about battery life, and an unwillingness to commit hard-earned money into what could be an expensive experiment conspire to hit residual values. The new battery leasing option might ease these fears but it’s too early to say one way or the other with any confidence.
Running costs
Running costs are low but whole-life costs might be higher than for a conventional petrol or diesel-engined hatchback thanks to a high initial purchase price and heavy depreciation.
Driver appeal
The Nissan Leaf is incredibly refined to drive and all that instantaneous torque makes it feel much quicker than the figures suggest. Handling is so-so, but few will find much to complain about in urban use.
FN Verdict
The Leaf’s limited practicality and high purchase cost mean that most fleet managers will need a compelling reason to buy one. Having said that, for companies wanting to promote their environmental credentials, the Leaf does the job as well as any and better than most.
Top Speed
N/A
Nissan Leaf Top Speed
VED band
N/A
Nissan Leaf Ved
Fuel Type
Electric
Nissan Leaf Fuel Type
Residual Value
3 Year 60k : N/A
4 Year 80k : N/A
Running Cost (ppm)
3 Year 60k : N/A
4 Year 80k : N/A

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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