In current months, a number of carmakers have introduced complete plans to introduce a variety of electrical automobiles so as to promote a greener type of motoring, whereas additionally satisfying more and more demanding emissions laws.
For example, the Porsche Taycan is due in September this yr, whereas BMW already has its i3 and can add three extra EV fashions to its line-up inside the subsequent few years. Over at Audi and Mercedes-Benz, each corporations unveiled their very own all-electric SUVs in late 2018. Lest we overlook, Tesla has its S3XY vary of automobiles as properly.
Nevertheless, whereas these carmakers are simply starting to, or have already introduce(d) the primary generations of their EV choices, Nissan has already moved on to the second-generation of its Leaf as of September 2017, which takes over from the first-generation mannequin that first got here out initially of this decade.
In 2018, Nissan introduced that it’ll launch the newest Leaf in further markets throughout the Asia and Oceania area, together with Malaysia, over the approaching months. In preparation for this, we got the prospect to have a go in a single through the current Nissan Futures occasion in Hong Kong to see simply what the mass-market EV has to supply.
If the first-generation Leaf was just a little comical in the best way it appears, the second era is something however. With inspiration from the IDS Idea and the fifth-generation March/Micra, the Leaf now seems much more like a “common” mainstream automotive, and dare I say it, a relatively sporty one at that.
Standout cues embrace the model’s signature V-motion grille with a blue-tinged 3D mesh motif, “boomerang” fashion mild signature and taillights, in addition to a floating roof with “kinked” C-pillars. In comparison with the bulbous look of the unique, the brand new automotive is definitely quite a bit much less divisive when it comes to its design, and will have a wider attraction.
Equally, the inside has been simplified from the primary era. Gone is the dual-tier setup for the instrument cluster, changed by a digital display and analogue dial pairing inside one binnacle. The display itself is with out novelty, merely displaying if the powertrain is regaining power or utilizing it, plus the out there vary, the battery’s state of cost and if different car features are enabled.
In different elements, the dashboard itself is much more upright, and the centre stack now meets with the centre console, displacing the cupholders additional down the road. The oddball gear lever is retained right here, albeit primarily completed in black, with the Eco mode button and e-Pedal toggle change situated simply forward of it.
Moving into the Leaf, the primary realisation is a quite excessive seating place even when the peak adjuster is about at its lowest. This can be a results of the heavy batteries being positioned within the centre of the physique, which is completed to offer higher stability for the chassis. Moreover, the steering wheel can solely be adjusted for rake however not attain, which made setting a really perfect seating place somewhat tough, no less than for me.
As for second-row seating, there was adequate knee- and headroom for my 170-cm peak, whereas additional rearwards within the boot, the loading area is a bit of sunken in because of the batteries. It’s usable however you’ll have to use a little bit of Tetris artistry to get a few of your cargo firmly in place.
Firing up the Leaf is anti-climatic, as you’d anticipate of an electrical automotive, with only a notification to inform you that the automotive is able to go. From there, simply slide the spherical gear lever into D, launch the handbrake, and also you’re off. It’s all very “regular,” and apart from the whir of the electrical motor, there isn’t a lot to listen to.
On that observe, the EM57 e-motor on the entrance makes a modest 148 hp (110 kW) and 320 Nm of torque, each a 38% and 26% enchancment over the ultimate iteration of the first-generation mannequin.
Stated e-motor attracts energy from a 40 kWh battery, which Nissan claims will present 400 km of vary (Japanese JC08 commonplace) – a 62 kWH choice is out there in some markets.
This can be a main step up from the utmost 30 kWh unit used within the first-generation mannequin, and it’s largely the results of a brand new electrode materials that permits for a larger variety of lithium ions to be charged with out having to extend the general measurement of the battery.
As with most electrical automobiles, the Leaf comes with regenerative braking to assist recuperate some power underneath braking to revive some vary. Within the Leaf, the depth of this perform could be altered relying on the mode of the “transmission,” and if further features like Eco mode and e-Pedal are engaged.
When the “transmission” is in D mode, the automotive doesn’t really feel any totally different from a daily automotive – it’ll nonetheless coast alongside upon lifting off the accelerator with minimal regenerative braking in play.
Slotting over to B mode intensifies the regenerative braking, which makes deceleration extra obvious to recuperate extra power however you’ll not come to a cease. As you’ll be able to inform, these modes solely have an effect on deceleration by way of regeneration braking.
Bringing the Eco mode into play, which is unbiased of the “transmission” modes, the acceleration of the car is affected as an alternative. It’s self-explanatory this, as having the mode on withholds the acceleration efficiency till you absolutely depress the accelerator pedal, no matter whether or not you’re in D or B modes.
Probably the most intriguing and most certainly to take a while to get used to is the e-Pedal, which varieties a part of Nissan’s Clever Driving know-how suite; the opposite techniques being ProPILOT and ProPILOT Park – each have been disabled throughout our drive.
With the e-Pedal, virtually all driving might be completed with one pedal. Now, this isn’t a world’s first as a result of different fashions have had such a system in their very own EVs as nicely. Nevertheless, as a primary time consumer of such a system, it definitely did catch a first-time consumer like myself off guard.
You interact e-Pedal by way of a change in entrance of the spherical gear lever, whereby an icon pops up within the digital instrument cluster to let you realize its lively. The chaperone within the automotive assured me that inside a couple of minutes of making an attempt it out, I’d be a pure regardless of the average visitors circumstances.
He wasn’t mendacity. Setting off is rudimentary, as you simply have to depress the accelerator such as you would often do. Nevertheless, upon lifting off the pedal, the regenerative braking comes on at its strongest, quickly decelerating the car and bringing it to a cease.
The primary time it occurred, my pure intuition was to succeed in for the brakes as I couldn’t assess simply how a lot the automotive was being slowed down by. After a number of repeats of this train, issues turned extra acquainted and my tendency to succeed in for the centre pedal pale away. After 15 minutes with the e-Pedal engaged, all of it felt very pure, and I left the mode on all the best way again to the start line.
You could be questioning why Nissan even bothered with such a factor, so right here’s my enter on this. With the e-Pedal, there was much less fatigue whereas coping with Hong Kong’s visitors, as I didn’t have to maintain shifting my proper foot from pedal to pedal. Moreover, the car gained’t creep ahead even after you come to a cease, so that you by no means want to carry on the brakes, or worse, by accident slip off of it whereas doing so.
It’s one thing you need to attempt for your self to raised perceive however when you get the grasp of it, it’s doubtless one thing you’ll welcome. The one time I needed to disengage the mode is on highways the place the robust “braking” (about zero.2 g) wasn’t welcomed.
Nissan says that with the e-Pedal, brake pedal utilization is down by 90%, and it assures us that different motorists gained’t be alarmed because the brake lights come on the second you raise off the accelerator pedal, identical to as you’d when utilizing the brakes. In fact, you’ll be able to overlook this perform completely and drive the Leaf like a traditional automotive, nevertheless it’s definitely value a attempt.
When it comes to efficiency, the moment torque from the e-motor means acceleration is fairly brisk, with Hong Kong’s velocity limits of round 50 to 80 km/h simply reached (zero to 100 km/h takes about eight to 9 seconds). For many driving purposes, this degree of efficiency is greater than enough, with slightly left to be desired when overtaking on the inside metropolis freeway.
As for the journey, the Leaf is available in two configurations with a firmer suspension tuning for European markets, which is what we sampled. Across the comparatively clean streets of Hong Kong, the Leaf remained principally snug (and quiet), with solely the odd roll over a manhole cowl offering moments of discomfort.
We have been advised that a couple of of the check automobiles there got here with a softer suspension setup for nations in Asia like Japan, however we didn’t get to attempt them out throughout our time there. Different points just like the Leaf’s electrical energy steering can greatest be described as mild and progressive in really feel, completely appropriate for metropolis driving, however slightly missing in precision.
Battery security and reliability are additionally necessary points for Nissan, and it claims that because the Leaf was first launched up till now, there have been no critical defects with Leaf batteries. It additionally claims that with repeated use of 500 cycles (about 750,000 km), its batteries are capable of nonetheless keep a 90% cost in comparison with others that may solely muster up 70%.
If phrases aren’t sufficient convincing, the Japanese carmaker provides that each one Leafs, no matter market, will include an eight-year/160,000 km battery assure. By quelling considerations about vary and battery reliability, Nissan hopes its efforts will assist encourage the uptake of the Leaf.
Like all batteries, you’ll have to cost this one up too. As commonplace, the Leaf comes with a 6.6 kW on-board charger and two forms of connectors situated at its nostril – Sort 2 (AC charging) and CHAdeMO (DC fast charging). Within the case of the AC charging, with a wallbox or public charging station (rated between 7-22 kW, 240 V), the time it takes for a full cost is between 5 and 7 hours.
Nissan Leaf charging ports: CHAdeMO (left), Sort 2 (proper)
Remember that even when related to an AC charger with a better most output, the Leaf will solely have the ability to settle for as much as 6.6 kW. Subsequently, when you plug a Leaf into 7-kW or 22-kW charging stations like these ready by ChargEV in Malaysia, you’ll get roughly the identical charging occasions as these claimed by Nissan. Nevertheless, with a lesser three.7-kW charger, or a typical 240 V/13 A plug usually utilized in houses, it’ll take longer at roughly 10-12 hours.
A a lot quicker choice is DC fast charging, which requires using the Leaf’s CHAdeMO charging port. With charging help for as much as 50 kW, plugging the Leaf right into a public quick charging station considerably lowers charging occasions to inside an hour.
Though the ProPILOT features have been disengaged throughout our drive, there’s nonetheless a necessity to say that the Leaf comes with a bevy of superior security applied sciences. It has 4 cameras and 12 sonar sensors (4 every on the entrance, aspect and rear), supporting options reminiscent of an round view monitor, single-lane autonomous driving, parking help, autonomous emergency braking and others.
Identical to the best way it strikes, the Leaf has grow to be a silent champion for EVs, all with out that a lot fanfare. In contrast to the automobiles talked about within the second paragraph, Nissan’s strategy with the Leaf prioritised affordability and real-world necessities.
Whereas a few of us are all overestimated on EVs that’ll do the century dash in a few eye blinks, the truth is common individuals simply need a easy, blue-collar automotive that runs on electrical energy somewhat than fossil fuels, and the gross sales numbers appear to mirror that. Earlier this month, gross sales of the Leaf surpassed 400,000 models worldwide, making it the primary electrical automotive on the planet to take action.
With the brand new Leaf, Nissan has additional improved on giving what environmentally acutely aware individuals need by offering it with higher efficiency, extra interesting seems and a widened function set. The Leaf does make a compelling case for itself by being completely “regular,” which helps ease the transition for these trying to enter EV possession. Let’s simply hope the governments in our a part of the world will do what’s needed to ensure EVs just like the Leaf usually are not too far past our attain.
Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) has already said it plans to launch the second-generation Leaf in Malaysia by this yr. The primary-generation Leaf was bought in Malaysia beforehand, however it wasn’t precisely a serious gross sales success.
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