Review

Nissan Leaf hatchback

£21,490 - £30,590

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 Fluence and the super-zippy Twizy, with Tesla ploughing an electric-vehicle furrow in the US. The good news for the Leaf is that the battery-powered hatchback still makes more sense than its rivals. It emits zero CO2 and can be recharged via a standard plug socket. The body design is aerodynamic, with the lithium-ion batteries stored in the floor of the car to make sure there's plenty of space inside. The only thing stopping it truly competing with conventional family cars like the Focus and VW Golf is its relatively short 124-mile range, which makes it purely a commuting car or town runabout. Prices are coming down, and with the new entry-level Visia car, it shouldn’t cost much more to buy than the equivalent family hatchback. Until the range can be increased, the flexibility of range-extending hybrids such as the Vauxhall Ampera or Chevrolet Volt is more appealing.