Nissan Leaf vs rivals

We rate Nissan’s new battery-powered Leaf against diesel and hybrid rivals in its first test

Nissan Leaf vs. rivals header

Meet the car charged with changing the way we think about driving. The Nissan Leaf is the first all-electric family model to hit UK showrooms, but is it the beginning of a brave new world or a gimmick that won’t catch on? 

With a silent powertrain, a theoretical range of 109 miles, a top speed of 93mph, five seats and a decent boot, the Leaf has all the makings of a game-changing family car. The Government has even recognised the Nissan’s green credentials by offering customers a £5,000 grant towards buying one.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Leaf

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It still comes at a hefty price, though, and its need to be connected to the national grid means it won’t suit everyone. But if you can fit a Leaf into your life, it provides the priceless opportunity to wave goodbye to petrol forecourts forever.

That’s not something either of its rivals here can offer – although the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion promises to make refills a rare occurrence. It provides genuine 60mpg potential and demands few sacrifices.

The third car in our line-up mixes the electric technology of the Leaf with conventional petrol power. So can Toyota’s Auris hybrid win at the green game? Or will it be uprooted by the new Nissan?

Verdict

The Nissan Leaf has its limits. If you can’t park your car near a power socket at home, or need to drive long distances on a regular basis, it isn’t for you. Simple as that. Once you’ve established 

that recharging its batteries isn’t a deal breaker, and that you can live with a range of between 50 and 70 miles, it begins to make more sense. It is expensive to buy, true, but that’s negated by the fact that you’ll never have to pay for petrol or diesel again. And it trumps the Auris HSD in this test. The Toyota is uninspiring to drive and returns disappointing economy. A small boot and drab looks count against it, too, so it finishes third here. The bad news for Nissan bosses is that the new Leaf can’t overturn the advantage of the VW. The Golf is more practical and stylish than either of its rivals, is cheaper to buy and has the potential to return class-leading fuel returns. Plus, it does all of this without sacrificing the driver appeal and refinement of regular models. Its unlimited range only adds to the appeal of this impressive package.

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