Written by: Chris Jan Bulthuis, Manager Operations
“An EV and winter weather are not friends”, somebody told me. But experiencing a pre-heated, warm car in cold times makes that I consider the full electric Nissan Leaf as my best friend.
I am not joking, every time I step in the Leaf it is pre-heated. No scraping of the windows, no mess of snow falling on the driver seat when you open the door. It is just one of the benefits of driving electric. Yes, heating or cooling the car during driving consumes a lot of energy. That is why all (plug-in) electric vehicles are equipped with a pre-climatise option. In the case of the Leaf you can set multiple timers. Ideal for the ones who have fixed working hours. And otherwise you use the Nissan app to pre-heat it on call.
Looking at the inner space of the car I am positively surprised. The trunk is deep and you can fit easily a big suitcase (or tow), still leaving more than enough space for the two charging cables (230V and phase 2). Going to the passenger row it also allows to passenger to sit comfortable. There is enough head space and space for the legs. With my length of 1.90 I found no problems to seat behind myself at all.
I move up one row, to the driver’s seat. The seat is quite okay but I had a hard time finding the ideal position. The steer is only adjustable in one way and that is for me simply not enough. But then I am a fan of a sporty sitting position: legs in a small angle, body closer to the steering wheel which allows me to have my hands place in a “quarter past 9” position. Maybe not what it the purpose in this Leaf.
The information in the screen in front of you can be adjusted. The information display on the middle console seems a little bit off to me. If it is a after-market system build in after the car was produced. Could be not the case, but it leaves a little bit non-integrated impression. But, the navigation system is working good and pairing the phone is a piece of cake.
When you write about a car, you write about the driving. Driving is this Leaf is different from the most other cars. It already starts with putting it in gear. The transmission “handle” looks very futuristic but works pretty straight forward. There are two buttons that I want to explain more. First: the ECO button. When you press this one the power is reduced which has an direct effect on the acceleration and maximum speed. Also the airconditioning does everything to save power. Pressing this button has obviously a big impact on the radius.
For me it makes sense to drive with this mode on. Although I am a safe driver, when I know that a car can accelerate fast I tend to use it too. In that is exactly what the Leaf does: fast acceleration. It is almost addictive…
Next the e-pedal. Switching on this allows “one-pedal-driving”. Lifting the “gas” pedal will initiate the braking on the engine. The energy regenerated is given back to the battery. Result: bigger radius. Driving in the city, highway or curvy B roads with the e-pedal on make your life easier and driving more fun. But, make sure to switch it off when you driving backwards or doing a parking manoeuvre.
And then the radius of the car. Yes, the weather influence the radius. But reaching 200 kilometres on one charge is no problem when using the active cruise control and respecting the speed limits. Set the airco on ECO and let your seat and steering heating do the most work. You will be fine, no need for range anxiety. And when the battery is almost empty at your end location you can fast charge with the ChadeMo socket. The network of fast chargers is rapidly growing.
I warmly invite everybody to test the Leaf. Then you also can experience the silentness of the engine (no noise from the engine at all!) and smooth driving. Just contact Arval and we will set you up for a test drive!
Chris Jan Bulthuis