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First drive: Nissan LEAF 2013 electric car

Nissan’s battery-powered hatchback gets a refresh some two years after the car dubbed the ‘world’s first fully electric family car’ first arrived on the marketplace.

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Heading out to Oslo for the international test drive, we were half expecting that the changes made would be hard to spot, and while we couldn’t have spotted all one hundred of them, some of the changes made to this model are really smart. In truth, they stem from the feedback from some of the LEAF’s first owners, collated via the Carwings telematics system over a collective 288 million kilometres of driving.
Change is good

Changes include more driving range, now at an NEDC of 124 miles, up from 109 miles, a new optional 6.6kW charger for a recharging time halved to just 4 hours, better ride quality, a choice of trims and new darker interior –are all things Nissan LEAF owners have been asking for and should be welcomed.

Red LEAF

Externally, not much has changed, although the bumper has been refined for better aerodynamics plus the alloys on the top spec Tekna cars are now 17” rather than the original 16” alloys.

But the most important changes are inside, where much of the focus has been on getting more miles to the charge. That’s involved moving the charger and invertor from the rear of the car to the front and integrating it with the electric motor for a more compact drivetrain. Combined with a lighter weight and more efficient motor, that has reduced inertia by 5 per cent, the whole drivetrain is 3 per cent smaller and 10 per cent lighter. All of that helps Nissan gain an extra 15 miles on the official NEDC driving range of the car.

Because of the relocation of the charger and invertor, there is also an extra 40 litres of boot space too, up to 370 litres, enough for an extra airline ‘carry-on’ size piece of luggage.

Another important change that helps deliver more miles is the new heat pump system that’s 70 per cent more efficient than the old heating system and also works a lot better (a common complaint among the first LEAF was that the heater was weedy).
Quick stats

Range: 124 miles
0-62mph: 11.5 seconds
Max speed: 90 mph
Torque: 254Nm
Battery: 24kWh lithium-ion
Fast charge: 80% battery recharge in 30 mins
Charging from 32amp 6.6kW charger : 4 hours
Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
Price: £15,990 with a £70 per month battery lease (after a Plug-in Grant worth 25% off the car’s price)
Available: Spring 2013
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