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Driven: Big-battery Nissan Leaf e+ touches down

Nissan Leaf EV hatch scores more power, better range with arrival of e+ variant

29 Apr 2021

NISSAN Australia has bolstered the performance of its Leaf all-electric small hatch with the arrival of the new flagship e+ variant, which checks into local showrooms $10,500 upstream of its regular counterpart at $60,490 plus on-road costs.


With the specification of the e+ essentially the same as the base-level Leaf, the main difference lies under the skin with the powertrain – the Leaf e+ features a lithium-ion battery that is now 22kWh larger, with a combined capacity of 62kWh.


That extra battery capacity not only boosts WLTP driving range by 115km to 385km, but also power from 110kW/320Nm to a more punchy 160kW/340Nm – an increase of 50kW/20Nm.


Nissan expects buyers to slightly favour the regular $49,990 Leaf with a variant split of around 60:40, with Nissan Australia electrification and mobility national manager Ben Warren explaining that a range of factors will decide which variant will be best for them, but at the end of the day the option of choice was critical.


“Ultimately, there’s a few different pieces to that, every buyer is a little bit different,” he said.


“But really we think that the range is obviously a critical piece, and where e+ really ties in is for those customers who do those extra-long drives or have those extra requirements, and that’s where the e+ really provides that solution today. 


“The reason why we think the Leaf will be the lion’s share of the sales will be that 270km range that suits the needs for most customers today based on their average driving – the average commute is 38km a day, something like that, and so what we see with Leaf and e+ is opening up the choice there and opening up to consumers whether it’s that real need of ‘I have a beautiful home up here in the country that I need to get to’ or whether it’s the perceived distances, whatever it may be it’s providing a range of choice and options for more customers.”


Nissan expected there to be some sales cannibalisation with the arrival of the e+, but overall the new variant will lead to an increase in total volume.


In the first quarter of the year, the Japanese brand has sold 118 examples of the Leaf, and in 2020 managed 370 total units.


Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester said the Leaf will attract the greatest level of popularity from government buyers, but would like to see a greater uptick in private sales.


“(Private buyers are) still a pretty small percentage so we’re seeing really strong increases especially in the government space, shires not unlike this one (Hepburn shire) express interest to us on how they are changing over their fleets, so that’s going to continue.”


He also called on governments at all levels to introduce new legislation to help increase EV ownership among private customers.


As mentioned, the Leaf e+ features a larger battery than the Leaf which along with the extra range and power also increases its DC charging capability with a peak 100kW capacity (up from 50kW) which on a 100kW charger can charge from 20 to 80 per cent in 45 minutes.


On a 50kW charger it takes 90 minutes (down to 60m for the Leaf).


The Leaf is unique in the pure-EV segment by offering bi-directional charging capability, meaning energy stored in the car’s battery can be returned back to the home allowing for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability, or can otherwise be used as a remote power source.


Unsurprisingly, the extra power of the e+ results in improved straight-line performance, with zero to 100km/h completed in 6.9 seconds – full second quicker than the Leaf despite a 142kg weight penalty – and a top speed pegged at 158km/h, up from 145km/h.


Like the regular Leaf, the e+ feature’s Nissan’s e-Pedal function that allows for predominantly one-pedal driving, with the accelerator tuned to apply regenerative braking when not depressed.


Measuring 4490mm long, 1788mm wide and 1540mm tall, the Leaf e+ has a 2700mm wheelbase and comes with 405 litres of luggage space.


Standard equipment otherwise matches the regular Leaf, and starts with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/50 tyres (with a space-saver spare), LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights; automatic lights and wipers, power-folding side mirrors with heating, and rear privacy glass.


Moving inside the cabin, features extend to an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, DAB+ digital radio, a seven-speaker Bose sound system, a 7.0-inch multi-function display, heated front and outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, climate control, keyless entry and start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and black leather-accented upholstery with Ultrasuede inserts.


Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility active safety suite is also included, and comes with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, tyre pressure monitoring, and high-beam assist.


Competition for the Leaf e+ comes from the likes of the Hyundai Kona EV ($60,740-$65,290) and MG ZS EV ($43,990), with no other EVs currently offered in the small car segment.


2021 Nissan Leaf pricing*

Leaf (a) $49,990
Leaf e+ (a) $60,490

*Excludes on-road costs

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