The Nissan LEAF

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The Nissan LEAF

The recent extreme weather conditions in the USA and the United Kingdom give credence to the concept of global warming and climate change.

Many experts point to the internal combustion engine as a significant factor in these changes and vehicle manufacturers all over the world have been looking at alternative propulsion methods, not least Nissan.



While some manufacturers have taken the hybrid route, a mix of petrol/diesel and electric motors, the Nissan LEAF is an all-electric powered vehicle. As such, it has the excellent attribute of zero exhaust emissions but suffers from the bug-bear of all electric vehicles, reduced driving range.

If you’re looking for a small car for city driving or short trips, and are concerned about pollution, then the Nissan LEAF, with its claimed range of 195 kilometres per charge is ideal, if you can live with the 7-hour recharge time.

Recharging can be done at home of course, but recharging on the road is not as simple as pulling in to a normal service station and driving away after a few minutes. There are some nine Nissan free recharging stations in Johannesburg and Pretoria, so you’ll need to plan your trips very carefully.

But this major drawback aside, the Nissan LEAF is a fine city car. From the outside it presents a sleek, aerodynamic body shape designed to minimise wind resistance. Four doors, five if you include the rear hatchback, allow easy access to a comfortable and well fitted interior with up to 720 litres of luggage space if you fold down the 60/40 rear seats.

Under the bonnet is an 80-kW AC synchronous electric motor, powered by a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery, capable of spinning up to 10,500 rpm. Top speed suggested by Nissan is a creditable 144 km/h, with 0-100 km/h achieved in 11.5 seconds, more than adequate for city driving.

The electric motor has power available right from the start, so there’s no problem keeping up with traffic away from the traffic lights and the electric power steering feels secure and tidy. The obvious difference when driving is the distinct lack of noise, apart from a slight whirr from the motor, all you’ll hear is the wind and road noise, but the clever interior design keeps even this to a minimum.

Standard features include cruise control, climate control, Nissan’s intelligent keyless entry and ignition system, leather upholstery and electric windows. Safety features such as vehicle sound for pedestrians (there’s no engine noise, remember), ABS, airbags all round and LED head and tail lights add to an impressive package.

The verdict? The Nissan LEAF is a great city car moving in the right direction for the future. We’re still not quite there, but this is an impressive step along the way.

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