Nissan Leaf review - Range, charging and running costs
Running on electric power only and with zero tailpipe emissions, this is a very cheap car to own
One of the major attractions of any electric car is how little it can cost to run. Depending on how you drive and charge it, it can work out to be significantly cheaper than a conventional petrol or diesel car.
When you plug into one of the sockets under the flap in the nose to charge up, it’ll take 21 hours from empty to 100% off a household three-pin plug socket, 7.5 hours with a home 7kW charger or you can get an 80% charge in 40 minutes from a 50kW fast charger.
The Leaf e+ has longer charging times thanks to its bigger battery. From a plug socket, it's a huge 32 hours, while a wallbox takes 11 and a half hours, so if you're charging a flat battery overnight, you best get it plugged in as soon as possible to guarantee a full charge.
Perhaps the big question is: how far will it go? According to the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (designed to produce a more representative result than the previous test), the standard Leaf will travel as far as 168 miles; and, if our test drives of the car are anything to go by, around 150 miles should be achievable.
Car group tests
- MG ZS EV vs Nissan Leaf
- Nissan Leaf vs Kia e-Niro
- Hyundai Kona Electric vs Nissan Leaf
- Nissan Leaf vs BMW i3 vs VW e-Golf vs Renault ZOE
Used car tests
However, in common with any electric car, the range you actually achieve will also depend hugely on the way you drive, the time of year (cold weather has a negative impact on driving range) and how much you’re carrying.
Again, the Leaf e+ has better figures than the standard car, with a WLTP combined range of 239 miles.
Regardless of how far you go, having zero tailpipe emissions also means that the car gives you access to further savings. For example, the car qualifies for the maximum government incentive for buyers of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (currently £2,500) and is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
Regular maintenance can also be cheaper on the Leaf than on a petrol or diesel car, because there are fewer moving parts, and you won’t have to pay for things like oil changes. In addition, using the e-Pedal system reduces brake wear, as it uses electrical resistance to slow the car instead of the discs and pads so you'll save on costs there, too.
You’ll also save on annual road tax rates. From the second year onwards, electric cars are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty.
The Leaf range starts from insurance group 21, but climbs to group 26, so higher-spec cars will incur more expensive premiums. However, in comparison, a Peugeot e-208 in GT trim sits in group 28 for insurance.
The Leaf holds onto around 50% of its value after three years and 36,000 miles, so as well as providing you with low running costs, the all-electric family hatch should provide you with a decent return come resale time.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe all-electric Nissan Leaf is a practical and efficient family hatch, but it faces a growing number of appealing EV rivals
- 2Engines, performance and driveElectric motor responds quickly and smoothly; and, with the e-Pedal system, it makes the Leaf a great car to drive around town
- 3Range, charging and running costs - currently readingRunning on electric power only and with zero tailpipe emissions, this is a very cheap car to own
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe cabin looks fairly conventional, but there’s an impressive amount of technology fitted
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Nissan Leaf will happily take four adults, and its boot is one of the biggest in the class
- 6Reliability and SafetyA five-star safety rating bodes well, as do the high levels of safety-related technology fitted to the car