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Nissan Leaf Review 2021

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  • Launched in 2018
  • Family hatch
  • EV
  • Launch year
    2018
  • Body type
    Family hatch
  • Fuel type
    EV

Interested in buying a Nissan Leaf?

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heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
An easy-going electric pioneer

Best bits

  • Punchy electric acceleration
  • Composed handling
  • Generous safety equipment

Not so great

  • Dated infotainment system
  • Standard Leaf has short range
  • E+ versions are quite expensive

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£8.3K - £33K
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Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front

Overall verdict

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front interior

On the inside

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Driving

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 profile

How much does it cost to run

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front exterior

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict on the Nissan Leaf

"The Nissan Leaf is a great entry to the electric car world. It demands few compromises, has punchy acceleration, comes well equipped, and drives better than many rivals, while undercutting them on price. True, the range isn’t class-leading, but it’s a great all-rounder that makes it a viable alternative to many fossil-fuelled rivals."

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front


The Nissan Leaf was one of the first electric cars to break into the mainstream. When it launched back in 2011, it had few rivals - but the current car arrived at a time when the market for EVs is growing exponentially. We'll take a closer look at how it compares with our in depth Nissan Leaf review.


Nissan wanted the Leaf to be an ordinary family hatchback that just so happened to have a ground-breaking zero tailpipe emissions powertrain, and its relatively sedate design has been a part of its success. Despite it looking quite reserved, it's a very strong all-rounder, with fewer compromises than many battery-powered electric cars.


The cabin of the Nissan Leaf is roomy enough for four (and five at a push) the boot is above average for a crossover, let alone a five-door family hatch, and as long as you plan your charging carefully, it should be a hassle-free car to own.


It now comes with a choice of battery sizes too, each with different power outputs and range. As standard, the Nissan Leaf gets a 40kWh (kilowatt hour) battery with a 150PS motor and an official 168 miles of range (real-world mileage may vary). This is on the lower end of what's possible from the latest electric cars, but should be enough for any urban drivers.


Pay a fair wedge more for a Nissan Leaf e+ model, and you get a larger capacity 62kWh battery, a 217PS electric motor that makes the Leaf feel seriously quick, and that cruising range increases to an impressive 240 miles or so. Floor the throttle and its remarkably rapid, pinning you to your seat from a standstill. It'll keep shifting itself at a rate of knots as you build up to motorway speeds, only tailing off at the top end, helping conserve battery.


Very few rivals feel as punchy, but many do claim a longer range, especially compared to the entry-level car. A Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Kona EV, BMW i3, Renault Zoe, Peugeot e-208 will all travel further on a charge, in some cases by far enough that it could make a real difference to your daily routine. It's the one drawback.


In other respects, the Nissan Leaf stacks up very well with these rivals. It's wonderfully refined, with a comfortable suspension setup, tidy handling and impressive traction, to go with its laidback manners and light controls. The Nissan Leaf's 'e-pedal' regenerative braking system is one of the best implementations we've tried, and it's smooth.


The standard Nissan Leaf comes in three trim levels: Nissan Leaf Acenta, N-Connecta, and Tekna, but unless you want the high-capacity model, we would stick to the first rung of the ladder. It's the best value (undercutting several of the cars we mentioned above) but still comes equipped with almost everything most buyers will need day-to-day.


If you want an electric car to feel like a cutting edge step into a shining future, then theNissan Leaf is not for you. It delivers a competent, capable driving experience that holds no unpleasant surprises, except a lowish range. A wilfully sensible cabin has a foot rooted in the past, but that makes the Nissan Leaf a perfect entry into electric ownership.


If you're looking for the older version, you need our used Nissan Leaf (2011-2018) review.


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160kW e+ N-TEC 62kWh 5dr Auto

  • 2020
  • 4,171 miles
  • Lookers Nissan Chester
  • Cheshire, CH14LQ
Price:£27,999
PCP: £412.71/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 37 months, 36 Monthly Payments: £412.71, Customer Deposit: £4,199.00, Total Deposit: £4,199.85, Optional Final Payment: £13,340.00, Total Charge For Credit: £4,398.41, Total Amount Payable: £32,397.41, Representative APR: 7.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 4.06%, Excess Mileage Charge: 8ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

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110kW Tekna 40kWh 5dr Auto

  • 2018
  • 18,500 miles
  • Perrys Kia Rotherham
  • Yorkshire, S601TU
Price:£20,495
HP: £580.01/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £580.01, Customer Deposit: £3,074.00, Total Deposit: £3,074.25, Total Charge For Credit: £3,469.61, Total Amount Payable: £23,964.61, Representative APR: 12.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 6.62%

Is the 2021 Nissan Leaf right for you?

Electric cars will not be for everyone, and charging does require more planning than a fill-up, but if you're interested in cutting your transport costs and helping cut pollution, the Nissan Leaf  is an excellent place to start.


It's as roomy and practical as a normal family car, easier to drive, with surprisingly brisk performance. The restrained design means it won't seem to your neighbours like you've landed a spaceship on your driveway, and with the standard battery size and in Nissan Leaf Acenta trim, it's reasonably priced and very generously kitted out.


The biggest limiting factor will be the range. Will 168 miles be enough for your needs? How often are you able to charge it or top up the battery? You'll need the answers to these questions before you buy, to help you make an informed choice of which is best, and whether to upgrade to the rather expensive e+ model.

 


What's the best Nissan Leaf model/engine to choose?

Trim-wise, we doubt many buyers will feel the need to upgrade beyond the entry-level Nissan Leaf Acenta. It comes with all the features you're likely to need, and the few omissions (such as heated seats and parking sensors) can simply be added by ticking a few option boxes, all while costing less than the next-step up Leaf N-Connecta.


If the Nissan Leaf is going to be your only car, then it's definitely worth considering the long-range e+ version. Nissan recently introduced a cheaper Leaf N-Tec edition of this model to lower the purchase price. Having a high-capacity battery will really come in handy on a longer commute involving a lot of motorway, on if you live quite far out.


For most buyers though, the standard Nissan Leaf provides ample performance, decent (if not exactly class-leading) electric range, and the same smooth, responsive driving experience as the pricier Leaf, and charges quicker. It's also significantly cheaper, and better value as a result, since the premium over a petrol car is a lot lower.


What other cars are similar to the Nissan Leaf?

Nissan was one of the first mainstream brands to launch a relatively affordable electric car with the original Leaf back in 2011. It's taken rivals the best part of a decade to catch-up, but now it has plenty of competition.


For something a little smaller, the Renault Zoe is a proven electric city car with decent range, and the newer Peugeot e-208 or Vauxhall Corsa-e can go even further. The former in a more stylish and premium package.


If you want something less practical but more charismatic, the funky Honda e or BMW i3 could be right up your street, while the MINI Electric is one of the most entertaining zero-emissions cars to drive at this price.


The futuristic Volkswagen ID.3 offers a similar footprint to the Leaf, larger standard battery pack, and a range of 340 miles on the top-spec model.


Finally, if you are considering an electric car but would prefer an SUV, the Peugeot e-2008, Kia Soul EV, or Hyundai Kona Electric all offer the raised driving position and chunky styling you seek, but smaller boots.


Learn more

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front interior

On the inside

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 backright exterior

Driving

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 profile

How much does it cost to run

Nissan Leaf Review 2021 front exterior

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

How much does it cost to charge a Nissan Leaf?

There are two ways to charge an electric car; either at home using a conventional three-pin socket (or higher discharge wall-box charger), or a public charging station. Charging the 40kWh Leaf to full at home and overnight will add roughly £4 to your electricity bill - depending on your supplier of course - so certainly much less than a tank of petrol would.

heycar editorial team

Answered by

heycar editorial team

How long do the batteries last in the Nissan Leaf?

Industry experts predict the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries (like the ones in the Leaf) to be roughly 100,000 miles. Nissan will cover any issues with the EV powertrain (including any lost capacity) you encounter up to that distance, or in the first eight years of ownership.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

Is the Nissan Leaf all-electric?

Yes. Pure electric technology has been around for a while, but Nissan was among the first brands to offer a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) to consumers at an affordable price, since its rivals launched plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) with the security of a small petrol engine instead.

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

What is the Nissan Leaf's range like in everyday use?

Electric range depends on a number of factors, including outside temperatures and driving style, but you can expect the Leaf to return around 85% of its predicted range, so 140 miles for the standard model and around 200 miles for the e+ Tekna version with the larger battery.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

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