Why buy the Nissan Leaf?
If you’re looking for a pure-electric family car that’s excellent value for money, the Nissan Leaf could be just what you need. It’s a practical five-door hatchback and, because it’s very popular and has been on sale for more than a decade, there are lots of used Nissan Leafs to choose from. Battery range isn’t as impressive as in some more modern rivals, but the Leaf could be a great choice if you want an affordable electric car.
Nissan Leaf range and updates
The first-generation Nissan Leaf was introduced in 2011 and was the first electric family car. The current, second-generation model has been on sale new since 2018. It’s similar in shape to the first model but slightly larger and has a longer battery range. You can choose from two versions of the latest model: the ‘regular’ Leaf which has a range of 168 miles or the Leaf e+ which can go 239 miles.
Nissan Leaf tech and features
Features included as standard on virtually all examples of the current Nissan Leaf include a touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto support, air con, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera. Top-of-the-range models have some extra features such as heated seats and steering wheel, leather upholstery and a powerful Bose stereo. An entry-point Visia trim level with fewer features was briefly available but it’s so rare you’re unlikely to find one.
Nissan Leaf running costs and value
The original version of the Leaf, sold new from 2011, can give you a range of 109 miles, according to official figures. Post-2013 models have a slightly bigger 24kWh battery and a 124-mile range. An upgrade in 2015 included a 30kWh battery, increasing the range to 155 miles.
The ‘regular’ version of the post-2018 Nissan Leaf has a 39kWh battery pack that can provide 163 miles of range. The Leaf e+ has a bigger 62kWh battery and 239 miles of range. Note that some of the latest public chargers have a new type of socket that the Leaf can’t connect to.
Charging at home can still be relatively inexpensive, especially if you can take advantage of cheaper night-time tariffs. The cost of using public chargers varies across the companies that provide them and can end up costing much the same as (or more than) filling the tank in a petrol or diesel car. Other running costs for the Leaf are very low. There’s no annual car tax to pay (until new rules take effect in 2025) and maintenance costs should be low.
Nissan Leaf vs rivals
Even as recently as 2018, when the current version of the Nissan Leaf was introduced, it was basically the only mid-size electric family car. Many more have come along since then, including the Kia e-Niro, the Volkswagen ID.3 and the MG4, to name but a few. The Leaf offers a similar amount of space and practicality as its rivals, more driver-safety features than some and looks that are still really distinctive. But its battery range is on the low side and it takes a relatively long time to charge.