Nissan Leaf Visia
We drive the new entry-level Nissan Leaf Visia, which cuts the electric car's starting price to £15,990
The changes to the way the Leaf handles are welcome, and this new budget price tag is great if you’re willing to pay between £70 and £115 a month to lease the battery pack. It’s a shame that you don’t get the efficient new heater, though, because it drastically improves real-world range. We’d recommend a higher-spec Leaf instead.
Together, the changes saw the starting price fall from £23,490 to £15,990 after the Government grant for electric cars – that’s less than an entry-level VW Golf.
The exterior changes are minor enough for you not to notice them, but the Visia does look a little cheaper than other Leafs. The mirrors aren’t body-coloured, you get 16-inch steel wheels and there are no tinted windows.
Inside, the electric handbrake is omitted, the gloss black panels are now a cheaper-looking plastic and there’s no reversing camera, auto wipers or sat-nav.
Nissan has shed 32kg from the kerbweight, so the Leaf now feels quicker and more agile. There’s a surprising kick of acceleration whenever you floor the throttle, and 0-62mph is down from 11.9 to 11.5 seconds.
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The steering feels a bit weightier and more natural now, too, while firmer dampers mean the Leaf is more composed in bends – although a Golf or Ford Focus is more capable.
The newcomer isn’t quite as comfortable over ruts as the old Leaf, but it still feels softer than most other family hatches. Its quiet drivetrain and single-speed box mean it’s more refined and relaxing than traditional rivals, too.
Nissan claims to have boosted the range from 109 to 124 miles, but we noticed little change. These entry-level cars also don’t include a new regenerative mode for the drivetrain or a new pump system for the heater, which you get in the more costly Acenta and Tekna.
The latter is supposedly 70 per cent more efficient than the Visia’s system, which effectively cut our range from 90 miles to 70 when we switched it on. Nissan says Visias will have a real-world range about 20 per cent lower than other Leafs.
While £15,990 is a great headline figure, the better-looking and better-equipped Leaf Acenta or Tekna make more sense – not least because the range will be better. An Acenta will set you back £18,490 if you choose to lease the battery pack or £24,490 if you buy it – and in our eyes that’s the model to go for.