Next to the introduction of the Tesla Model 3, the arrival of the second-generation Nissan Leaf certainly is the biggest novelty for the electric car segment this year – this is after all the world’s best-selling electric vehicle.
The Japanese automaker recently held a simultaneous unwrapping event in Japan and Las Vegas, where it focused on the new Leaf, featuring a standard battery pack of 40 kWh – according to early estimates that would be good for 150 miles of range, which is 240 km on the EPA test cycle. After a while, future clients will have the choice of upgrading to an e-Plus 60-kWh Leaf with more than 200 miles (320 km), a good challenge for both the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. For now, we do know the Leaf will undercut both in terms of pricing, as the base model kicks off at $29,990, which is actually lower by $690 compared to the current US Leaf pricing.
The new Leaf comes with a less controversial look, the design falling in line with the latest styling development premiered by the new Micra – and with enhanced dimensions compared to the outgoing model (35 millimeters longer, 10 mm higher, 20 mm wider, and the center of gravity has been lowered by five mm). The front comes with the new “ice cube grille,” hiding lots of sensors for the new technologies bundled. There’s even a premium look, with two-tone color scheme and floating roof via blacked-out C pillar. Inside the cabin, the Leaf now feels more like a normal car, with most drive-affecting buttons (Eco Mode or e-Pedal) grouped together and the infotainment system featuring a 7-inch display (smaller on the base S trim).
At the forefront of the new technology bundle sits the semi-autonomous ProPilot, but market dependent the Leaf also has self-parking technology, among others. Then there’s the e-Pedal, which is a powerful regenerative braking tool enabling one-pedal driving. As far as performance goes, Nissan only admitted the 0-100 kph time has been lowered by 15 percent, the 60-100 kph sprint dropped 30 percent and the motor comes improved for 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque – with maximum speed again limited at 87 miles per hour – 140 kilometers per hour. High-power recharging is enabled through the CHAdeMO standard, the 40-kWh model getting 80 percent full in about 40 minutes.