Automotive

Nissan Leaf lands with more range, power and luxury on board

The new Nissan Leaf 
The new Nissan Leaf 
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The aerodynamic nose of the new Nissan Leaf 
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The aerodynamic nose of the new Nissan Leaf 
The new Leaf was inspired by the IDS Concept 
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The new Leaf was inspired by the IDS Concept 
The rising beltline and black roof on the Leaf make it look sportier than before 
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The rising beltline and black roof on the Leaf make it look sportier than before 
The latest Leaf has a 40 kWh battery pack 
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The latest Leaf has a 40 kWh battery pack 
The new Leaf has a bigger boot 
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The new Leaf has a bigger boot 
The new Leaf has a drag coefficient of just 0.28
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The new Leaf has a drag coefficient of just 0.28
The Nissan Leaf has 110 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque 
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The Nissan Leaf has 110 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque 
The nose of the new Leaf 
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The nose of the new Leaf 
The new Nissan Leaf was unveiled in Tokyo 
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The new Nissan Leaf was unveiled in Tokyo 
The new Nissan Leaf will have a semi-autonomous ProPILOT cruise control system
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The new Nissan Leaf will have a semi-autonomous ProPILOT cruise control system
The diffuser on the Leaf helps contribute to a 0.28 Cd 
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The diffuser on the Leaf helps contribute to a 0.28 Cd 
The creased flanks of the Nissan Leaf 
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The creased flanks of the Nissan Leaf 
The pointy nose of the Nissan Leaf is more attractive and aerodynamic than before 
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The pointy nose of the Nissan Leaf is more attractive and aerodynamic than before 
The headlamps on the new Nissan Leaf 
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The headlamps on the new Nissan Leaf 
The new Nissan Leaf 
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The new Nissan Leaf 
Blue detailing on the new Nissan Leaf 
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Blue detailing on the new Nissan Leaf 
The details in the new Nissan Leaf 
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The details in the new Nissan Leaf 
The diffuser on the new Nissan Leaf 
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The diffuser on the new Nissan Leaf 
Aero wheels on the new Nissan Leaf 
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Aero wheels on the new Nissan Leaf 
The new Nissan Leaf can be driven with one pedal 
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The new Nissan Leaf can be driven with one pedal 
The new Nissan Leaf 
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The new Nissan Leaf 
The new Nissan Leaf 
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The new Nissan Leaf 
The new Leaf has been designed as a sharper steer than its predecessor 
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The new Leaf has been designed as a sharper steer than its predecessor 
The new Nissan Leaf is a prettier car than its predecessor 
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The new Nissan Leaf is a prettier car than its predecessor 
CarPlay and Android Auto will be available in the new Nissan Leaf 
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CarPlay and Android Auto will be available in the new Nissan Leaf 
Behind the wheel of the new Nissan Leaf 
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Behind the wheel of the new Nissan Leaf 
The seats in the new Nissan Leaf 
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The seats in the new Nissan Leaf 
The infotainment system on the Nissan Leaf 
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The infotainment system on the Nissan Leaf 
Materials on the new Nissan Leaf have been chosen to deliver a high-end feel
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Materials on the new Nissan Leaf have been chosen to deliver a high-end feel
A funky take on the gear selector in the Nissan Leaf 
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A funky take on the gear selector in the Nissan Leaf 
e-Pedal allows drivers to take full advantage of the regenerative braking 
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e-Pedal allows drivers to take full advantage of the regenerative braking 
ProPILOT on the new Nissan Leaf 
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ProPILOT on the new Nissan Leaf 
The new Leaf will park itself 
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The new Leaf will park itself 
A look through the Nissan Leaf
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A look through the Nissan Leaf

Nissan has finally stopped teasing and unveiled the new Leaf at an event in Tokyo. With a higher-capacity battery, more power and a higher-quality interior, it represents a huge step up from the current model.

Initial specs for the Leaf demonstrate how quickly the electric car game is advancing. The current car has a 30-kWh lithium-ion battery, good for just over 100 mi (160 km) of range on a full charge. The extra-dense lithium-ion battery in the new Leaf boosts capacity to 40 kWh, but fits into the same space as the old unit, for a claimed range of 378 km (235 mi) on the New European Drive Cycle. Expect that figure to be worse on the more stringent EPA test cycle, though.

Charging is a slow process, with a claimed 16-hour charge time on a 3-kW wall socket and a claimed eight-hour wait using a 6-kW charger. Nissan also offers the ability to hit 80 percent charge in just 40 minutes using the right connector. BMW offers similar capability in the i3. A bigger battery will be offered in 2018, but Nissan is remaining tight lipped on how much extra range it will deliver.

For those keen to go the other way, the car comes with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability built in as well. That means owners will be able to hook their cars into the power grid and sell energy, theoretically allowing them to charge up with cheap off-peak power and make money selling it during periods of heavy demand.

The latest Leaf has a 40 kWh battery pack 
The latest Leaf has a 40 kWh battery pack 

With 110 kW (148 hp) of power and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque on tap, the car will hit 144 km/h (91 mph) flat out. Acceleration figures weren't released, but that isn't likely to faze potential buyers. Unlike the Tesla Model S, the Leaf has never traded on neck-snapping acceleration. With that said, a boosted Leaf NISMO with motors on all four wheels would certainly be cool.

While we're talking performance, it's worth mentioning the chassis changes Nissan has made in the new Leaf. The company says heavy objects – battery included – have been placed in the middle of the chassis to tighten the handling up, and the low-slung battery should give the car a decent center of gravity as well.

The software driving the electric power steering has been tweaked, and the steering torsion bar is 10 percent stiffer than before, for better feedback and a more linear response to steering inputs on the highway. Rubber bushings replace urethane units in the rear suspension for a more refined ride on bumpy tarmac, and more precise control over the electric motor in corners has allowed Nissan engineers to cut down on unpleasant vibrations in the cabin.

The new Leaf will park itself 
The new Leaf will park itself 

Nissan spent a lot of time talking about tech in the lead up to the new Leaf launch, but we'd be hard pressed to find something on the car that isn't already available elsewhere. The semi-autonomous ProPILOT cruise control system can maintain a gap from the car ahead on the highway, stay centered in its lane between 30 and 100 km/h (19 and 62 mph), and brake to a full stop with the traffic, while ProPILOT Park will automatically steer into a spot when prompted.

Although most electric cars make use of regenerative braking, the new Leaf takes this brake-free deceleration and packages it in something called the e-Pedal system. When the driver lifts off the accelerator, the car slows down as energy is drawn back into the battery, essentially braking the car without using the brakes. Nissan says the system allows drivers to leave the brake pedal alone for 90 percent of their driving. The regenerative braking systems in both the BMW i3 and Tesla Model X/S mean that, in our experience, they could also be driven with minimal input from the brake pedal.

One glance at the interior reveals a more luxurious, high-end look compared to the current car. The dashboard is dominated by a seven-inch display for infotainment, and the driver is faced with another seven-inch screen in place of conventional dials. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be included on cars with the higher-spec infotainment system. Down back, the boot holds a useful 435 liters (15.4 cu-ft) of gear – a handy jump from the 370 liters (13 cu-ft) offered by the old car.

Behind the wheel of the new Nissan Leaf 
Behind the wheel of the new Nissan Leaf 

As for the exterior? Well, it's certainly prettier than the old Leaf. The front end is inspired by the IDS Concept and, in concert with a sealed underbody, neat rear diffuser and cool-looking aero wheels, contributes to a drag-coefficient of 0.28. Along with better range, that slippery figure should make for a quieter cabin on the highway.

Pricing for the Leaf hasn't been announced, but reports suggest it will cost around US$30k at launch. That makes it cheaper than the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt in base 40 kWh form, with no word on the price (or range) of the more expensive model with a bigger battery. The car will be on display at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.

Source: Nissan

10 comments
Joshua Tulberg
That's pretty good bang for the buck @ just under $30K. That makes it just about $20 -$22.5K depending on State-level incentives. Couple that with a wicked-low operational cost and this vehicle should save people a ton of money over time.
Cas Tuyn
Very odd, that a 33% increase in battery (30 kWh to 40 kWh) results in a 136% increase in range (160 km to 378 km). On Internet I found the EPA range of the 30 kWh Leaf to be 172 km, but even then it is a 120% increase.
swaan
Cas, those range number come from the wildly useless japanese cycle test - we will have to wait for EPA numbers that are actually comparable to day-to-day driving. The European NEDC test is garbage too. I think V2G is great news especially for those who live off-grid or who want to power heavy equipment in remote locations. With 110kW of power on tap there isn't much you can't power from it. If you have a suitable inverter, that is.
Don Duncan
Giving out the drag coefficient is an encouraging change. Now all we need is the curb weight and we have the fundamentals. I would like to know the batt life/replacement cost. Does C.R. or anyone do an analysis of savings over an ICE?
Derek Howe
I agree with swaan. Europe & Japan's method for calculating the range is absurd, I'm pretty sure it involves driving down a hill with the wind on your back.
Penguin
Well, at least it isn't hideous like the old one. I have a pretty high tolerance for ugly cars but I honestly couldn't have bought the last one.
Joshua Tulberg
@Don Duncan: There have been reports lately of an older Tesla Model S hitting 250,000 miles with only a 7% degradation in battery capacity. I think there is a mandated 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty on EV's sold in CA, and 8 year / 80,000 mile in other states. I also believe there were reports of new Leaf batteries being priced at $5,500, so even if you factor in a complete battery replacement after 100,000 miles, it is still a fraction (half or better) of what you would have spent on fuel.
toyhouse
A sixteen or eight hour charge cycle time. Those are some disappointing numbers to be honest. But I get it, it's a big battery. Still, a possible barrier for mass adoption. However, fourty minutes to 80% with a special connector?What does that mean? An expensive charger option perhaps? Some of those fast chargers can cost hundreds or even thousands. I will say that the car looks to be an improvement visually. On a related note; I recently read one can buy used electric autos like the leaf at great discount. Many with much life left in the battery. They don't currently seem to hold resale well. Now I can see why. Things are changing rapidly.
S Michael
LOL... Still isn't what the public wants. Still over priced. Still lousy milage. And it still won't sell. The minimum range the public wants and needs is 500 miles on a single charge. That is about the distance an average driver will drive before they need to rest and recharge both themselves and the car. Until that mileage is reached, car companies are blowing smoke. Smoke that the public just won't pay for.
WolfeSA
@SMichael, actually that range should be great for city driving, and for a number of countries. The clock is ticking for 100% petrol/diesel cars. And why not? After electric cars will come something else. As long as its not polluting, and costs the same, it has a future.