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Eat your Leaf-y greens: Nissan Leaf v2.0 brimming with autonomy

Published: 06 September 2017

► New 2018 Nissan Leaf
► Range boost up to 235mi
► Plus autonomy and e-pedal

Is the era of weirdly-shaped electric cars coming to an end? This pointy-looking hatch just so happens to be the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf EV.

Nissan’s new-generation Leaf electric car looks decidedly un-weird, promises a massive range boost compared to before and is packed to the rafters with autonomous and semi-autonomous tech.

Nissan is promising that the new Leaf is at the cutting edge of electric car technology. The second-gen car has a huge weight on its shoulders after the huge success of its predecessor. Leaf 1.0 quickly became the world’s best-selling electric car, with more than 283,000 punters buying one and enjoying some whizzy, emission-free motoring.

More than 20,000 Leafs have found UK homes, and Nissan has built up valuable experience in battery reliability and customer usage, and created a community of EVangelists, it claims.

The new Nissan Leaf looks so… normal

Doesn’t it just. Nissan says the new shape was heavily inspired by the autonomous IDS concept. We’re inclined to agree, but think that it looks like the IDS has been left in a sauna to melt. Nissan’s ubiquitous ‘V-motion’ grill is slapped on the front, there’s a floating roof and boomerang rear lights. Note the touches of blue in the grille and bumper detailing, too.

The aerodynamic overhaul helps keep the Leaf’s EV range up at cruising speeds, as drag has been reduced by 4% compared with its predecessor and the centre of gravity is lower, too.

Nissan Leaf 2018 rear qyarter

To help bring a bit of visual zest, there are white, yellow, red and blue exterior colours that can be paired with two-tone roof options and a new Spring Light Green colour exclusive to the Leaf.

So what can I potentially get out of it?

Well, arguably one of the biggest headlines is the huge boost to estimated range. Even with the first-gen Leaf’s EV range hitting a claimed 155 miles when the 30kWh model went on sale early in 2016, this new version has smashed that (admittedly still claimed) figure out of the park.

Leaf 2.0 uses a 40kWh lithium ion battery cells that occupy the same space in the floorpan, connected to a motor with a 110kw maximum output. That’s equivalent to around 148bhp and 236lb ft of torque, with the EV hatch running out of puff at 90mph.

If that’s not enough, a higher-powered motor and larger battery pack combo will be available by the end of 2018.

Autonomous, you say?

Indeed. The new Leaf has become a hub for a lot of Nissan’s latest ProPilot autonomous tech, which means you can set the car’s cruising speed and it will follow the car in front, steer to keep you in lane or even brake to a complete stop of its own accord.

ProPilot Park uses four HD cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to guide itself into parallel, perpendicular or slanted bays, driving forwards or reversing.

Nissan Leaf 2018 drive select

Semi-autonomous stuff isn’t the only tech on board. Nissan makes a lot of noise about the new Leaf’s e-pedal, which aims to bring new capabilities to an EV’s one-pedal driving style. Nissan says that the accelerator is more responsive than the electric car norm, precisely moderating speed according to driver pressure and bringing the car to a halt if you lift off entirely.

It will automatically activate a hold function on hills. Nissan claims the e-Pedal will be able to cover 90% of a driver’s needs – although the friction brakes back-up is present and correct.

NissanConnect pairs your car’s info to your phone so you can check its status, let you know of nearby charging stations and pre-heat or cool the car before you hop in.

Is the Nissan Leaf interior still space-age?

Like the exterior, the short answer is no. Save for the dinky drive selector on the centre console, the cockpit could be mistaken for the latest Micra’s or the recently facelifted Qashqai’s. It’s a marked shift towards sensibility and normality, which we assume is part of Nissan’s plan to make its electric car feel more accessible to more people.

Nissan Leaf 2018 interior

Along with all of the autonomous kit, there’s the usual selection of safety gear, a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay. Boot space has increased to 435 litres – 105 litres more than its predecessor.

When can I buy the new Leaf?

From January 2018. A launch edition will be available for a limited time, while the more powerful model will arrive by the end of 2018.

Check out all of our Nissan reviews here

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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