New Nissan Leaf e+ 2019 review

The new Nissan Leaf e+ offers more power and greater range, but is that enough to challenge the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro?

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3.5 out of 5

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The new Nissan Leaf e+ is exactly what it says on the tin: a Leaf, but with a bigger battery and a longer range. It barely feels any different to the regular model, and even with this extra range it can’t match rivals such as the Hyundai Kona Electric or Kia e-Niro. Cheaper Leaf models make more sense.

The Nissan Leaf e+ is a new version of the Japanese brand's popular electric car that has a bigger battery and a new motor. This more powerful set-up isn’t quieter than the lower-spec one, nor does it deliver power differently. It’s just that if you want to pay a bit more money for your Leaf, you get a bit more power and range.

It’s quite a bit more money – while a normal Leaf in Tekna trim costs £30,995, this 62kWh version costs £35,895. For that you get 215bhp (up from 148bhp) and a range of 239 miles (up from 168 miles). That seems like quite a bit, but rivals such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro both offer closer to 300 miles of range for less money.

• Best electric cars on sale

Both of those models are better cars in nearly every way than the Leaf, too. For a start, they’re more comfortable and easier to drive, as although the Leaf’s suspension is well-judged and deals with UK roads well, the driving position is ergonomically awful. It has no reach adjustment for the steering wheel and a seat that’s set way too high up.

A revised suspension set-up for this e+ model hasn’t changed much about the way the car handles or rides – it’s very similar to the standard model. The Leaf isn’t bad to drive, with reasonably well-weighted steering and the instant power delivery that you’d expect from an electric car. However, the more powerful motor isn’t that noticeable from behind the wheel.

In a petrol or diesel, 215bhp is rather a lot in a car the size of a Leaf. Yet the Leaf e+ barely feels any faster than the lesser version (the new model goes from 0-62mph an almost imperceptible one second quicker), especially once you’re up to speed. Like all EVs, its punchy low-speed acceleration can be fun, but it soon runs out of steam as you go faster.

It’s not worth buying this model based on the more powerful motor, then, so really the decision is about the longer range. Its figure of 239 miles is good, and it will help make longer trips more palatable – but as most people drive less than 30 miles a day, the 168-mile range on the standard version is more than good enough for those with a conventional car on the drive as well. 

Plus, a Kia e-Niro has a range of 282 miles and costs nearly £3,000 less than the Leaf. The Leaf’s appeal is diminished by the availability of rivals like this, which are not only cheaper but also have longer range and better interiors.

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The Leaf’s cabin is pretty drab and cheap-looking too, with hard-wearing materials even on this top-spec Tekna model. The eight-inch touchscreen display on the dash houses an old-fashioned, ugly and hard to use infotainment system that feels a decade behind the elegant system in rivals from Korea. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, so you can bypass Nissan’s own system.

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