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In-depth reviews

Nissan Leaf review - MPG, CO2 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.

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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.

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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. 

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Again, the Leaf e+ has better figures than the standard car, with a WLTP combined range of 239 miles, or 319 miles for city driving.

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 £4,500) 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

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Finally, for a company car user, there are potentially huge savings over a petrol or diesel car, as an electric car incurs BIK tax that's around 12 per cent lower than for a petrol or diesel car.

Insurance groups 

If you’re the kind of buyer who decides which model to buy depending on its insurance costs, the Leaf won’t help you. Every version sits in group 21 – exactly the same as the BMW i3, but higher than a Volkswagen e-Golf or Renault Zoe.   

Depreciation

Values of electric cars have traditionally been low, as used buyers have been wary of this relatively new technology. But the latest Leaf is a better performer than before, with residuals in the 39-41 per cent range.

Lower-spec versions fare better than, for example, the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf – which are dearer to buy. However, if you look at more costly Leafs, which have similar list prices to the BMW and VW, they lose value at a similar rate to their electric rivals.

On the other hand, if you compare them to non-electric cars with similar list prices, the more conventional cars look set to retain their value more strongly. 

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    110kW Acenta 40kWh 5dr Auto [6.6kw Charger]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,790

Most Economical

  • Name
    160kW e+ Tekna 62kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £39,340

Fastest

  • Name
    160kW e+ Tekna 62kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £39,340
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