Nissan Leaf hatchback

Price  £25,790 - £31,490

Nissan Leaf hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Zero emissions
  • Easy to drive
  • Looks like a normal car
  • Limited range
  • Expensive to buy
  • Forgettable driving experience

At a glance

The greenest
Tekna 109PS 24 kWh 5dr £29,890
The cheapest
Visia 109PS 24 kWh 5dr £25,790
The fastest
Tekna 109PS 24 kWh 5dr £29,890
Top of the range
Tekna 109PS 30 kWh 5dr £31,490

"The Nissan Leaf remains a pioneering machine and one of the most comfortable, quiet cars on the road."

If the Nissan Leaf is the car of the future, then the future is already here. The Leaf was the first mainstream production vehicle designed to run purely on electricity, but since its launch in 2010 it's been joined by the likes of the Renault Zoe.

But now models such as the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S are elbowing in on the electric-car market, so does the Nissan Leaf has what it takes to compete with newer arrivals?

There's certainly plenty to recommend it. It doesn’t emit any CO2 directly and it can be charged from a household power socket. That takes 12 hours, but Nissan recommends a home charging unit, which takes just four hours to charge from empty to full.

By the end of 2015, Nissan says 96% of service stations in the UK will have a Rapid Charger, which are capable to charging a Leaf's batteries from 0% to 80% in around 30 minutes. All of a sudden, a quick-ish pit stop for power could become a reality.

The Leaf has been designed as aerodynamically as possible, meaning it can slip through the air very efficiently. The car's battery pack is housed in the floor of the car to avoid encroaching on passenger or boot space.

The biggest limit to practicality is the car's range, despite there being two 'sizes' of battery. The 24kWh (kilowatt hour) version can cover up to 124 miles on a single charge, but that's driving in ideal conditions. When it's very cold, or when the air-conditioning is used a lot, you can expect that range to almost halve. Even so, most drivers cover less than that in a day, so those commuting short distances shouldn’t worry.

There's also a 30kWh version available, which is capable of 155 miles, boosts the car's long-distance useability. It costs an additional £1,600, but for most drivers that's a price worth paying.

Even so, there's no petrol engine as a safety net. That means that if you do occasionally make long journeys and don’t have the opportunity or the time to recharge, you might be better off with a range-extended electric vehicle such as the Vauxhall Ampera, BMW i3 range-extender or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Although covered under warranty, the Leaf's battery will cost around £5,000 to replace if it wears out, although Nissan promises you’ll get £1,000 cash back for your old battery if that's the case.

The Nissan Leaf is eligible for the government's £5,000 electric-car grant, which means you can buy one for around £20,800 in its most basic trim, Visia. At £1,000 intervals, you can choose from a Visia+ or Acenta. There's also Acenta+ and Tekna trim. The more powerful 30kWh battery commands a £1,600 premium.

We’d recommend the Leaf Acenta, because it features the Nissan Connect system (which integrates smartphone apps) and the rear parking camera from the Visia+ model, but adds Carwings (which allows you to start, stop and monitor charging from your smartphone). Other kit you’ll find on the Acenta model includes a seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control and suede-effect trim.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4 / 5

Nissan Leaf extremely cheap to run thanks to the promise of 124 miles of driving for £2 in electricity

Engines, drive & performance

2.6 / 5

The Nissan Leaf is relaxing but unexciting to drive

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

Very little wind or road noise and near-silent running makes the Nissan Leaf extremely relaxing for occupants

Practicality & boot space

2.3 / 5

A limited range hurts the everyday practicality of the Nissan Leaf

Reliability & safety

4.3 / 5

Lack of moving parts means there’s less to go wrong in a Nissan Leaf

What the others say

4.3 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"Turn the ignition key, though, and you are greeted with silence. There's no mechanical hum from the electric motor – only a light on the dash to tell you the engine is ready for action. You can select the single forward gear with a switch in the centre console, then it's simply a case of releasing the brakes and pressing the throttle. Acceleration is progressive and the ride smooth."
3 / 5
"Press the throttle and the 551lb, 24kWh, 90kW (121bhp) lithium-ion battery pours current into the 80kW (107bhp) AC brushless electric motor, which drives the front wheels. While 'all-torque-at-zero-revs' electric propulsion can be overstated, the Leaf takes off with alacrity, especially up to 40mph."
5 / 5
"The future looks bright, because the world's first mass-produced electric car is fast, fun and comfortable. It's pricey, but it costs peanuts to run and you get stacks of kit included. Our Electric Car of the Year 2011."
5 / 5
"Could this be the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine? The Leaf is the first serious mainstream production car to be powered by electricity. It emits zero CO2, can be charged at home for next to nothing and most importantly it drives and looks like a mainstream car. The body was designed using Nissan's ‘smart fluidity' principle, combining flowing lines with aerodynamic efficiency."
What owners say 
4.4 /5 based on 30 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
29 Oct 2015
Own this car? Leave your review.