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Nissan Leaf 2023 review: e+

No, it's not a souped-up golf cart but the new Nissan Leaf e+ does share some similarities.

Nope, this isn’t a newly souped-up golf cart, but the new Nissan Leaf e+ does share some similarities.

It’s small, it’s electric, but it also handles and drives like one - not overly fast and not as fun as you might think. However, the e+ does offer a driving range that makes it a little more competitive with what’s on the EV market but is it enough to make this hatch suitable for everyday family life? I’ve been driving it for the last week with my family to find out.

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What does it look like?

Honestly, it sort of looks like a Lego car. Particularly, how the nose is broken into distinct panels of the bonnet lid, charging lid and then the black grille. It makes it look pieced together and that interferes with any futuristic vibes that a lot of other EVs have been going for lately.

The 17-inch alloy wheels are weird-looking but I like the mix of materials of synthetic leather and metal accents on the dashboard inside. The interior is let down by the small-looking 8.0-inch touchscreen and big plasticky buttons/dials. An electric car should feel fun! 

The nose is broken into distinct panels of the bonnet lid, charging lid and then the black grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The nose is broken into distinct panels of the bonnet lid, charging lid and then the black grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How does it drive?

The e+ offers a longer driving range than the regular Leaf at 385km (WLTP), which makes the Leaf a more realistic every day car. The power output isn’t too shabby at 160kW/340Nm, so I’m surprised that this isn’t super responsive at low speeds and when you’re getting up to speed, say on a highway merge, your foot is literally on the floor to wring out the power. A bit like a golf cart. It’s pretty cruisy once you’re up to speed though and I still feel confident overtaking when I need to.

The ePedal is a cool feature - when it’s engaged, you only use the one pedal. Take your foot off the accelerator and it starts braking, and can even come to a full stop. It took me a day to get used to it but I actually really like it. And it's part of the regenerative braking system that helps recoup energy on the go.

The e+ offers a longer driving range than the regular Leaf at 385km (WLTP). (Image: Glen Sullivan) The e+ offers a longer driving range than the regular Leaf at 385km (WLTP). (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The Leaf is definitely a city-slicker, though. It gets hammered by the wind and passing of other cars and can feel wobbly and unsure of itself at higher speeds. Which ended its chances of being a road tripper for my family.

The compact size of this makes it easy to park. The 360-degree view cameras make light work of even a tight spot.

How spacious is it?

It reminds you that it’s a hatchback as soon as you close the doors. The legroom and headroom are okay for my 168cm (5ft6) height but taller individuals may disagree! But it’s the width of the interior that bugs me, I find that most of me is pressing against the car (even my very fit husband experienced the same) - which made it feel more cramped than the legroom/headroom specs might suggest.

There isn't much storage space up front and the middle console is tiny. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There isn't much storage space up front and the middle console is tiny. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

There’s not a lot of storage throughout the car either, which will stop this being practical for a lot families. The glove box is average in size but the middle console is tiny and besides a drink bottle holder in each door (but no storage bins) and two cupholders … that’s it for up front. The back seat only gets a drink bottle holder in each door and map pockets.

The boot is a good size for a little car with 405L of capacity when all seats are in use. Pop the back row down and that jumps up to a healthy 1176L (impressive for a hatch). There’s no ‘frunk’ storage, though, and with the permanently installed Bose sound system bolted to the cargo floor (and charging cables), the boot can feel a little awkward to use. No Leaf models have a powered tailgate but the lid isn’t heavy to operate.

  • The boot is a good size for a little car with 405L of capacity when all seats are in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The boot is a good size for a little car with 405L of capacity when all seats are in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • Pop the back row down and that jumps up to a healthy 1176L (impressive for a hatch). (Image: Glen Sullivan) Pop the back row down and that jumps up to a healthy 1176L (impressive for a hatch). (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How easy is it to use every day?

It has quite a few traditional features in it that makes it feel somewhat comfortable to operate, despite being an EV. That both works for and against it because while easy enough to understand, the plasticky buttons and big dials stop it feeling special inside. Yet, once you get used to the systems (about a day for me) and the ePedal, this is like using a big golf cart. Pretty simple.

The seats are manual on all grades, which is a bit of a bummer at this price point but the front seats and rear outboard seats are heated, which is a plus. The synthetic leather with blue stitching detail looks good and the seats get some points for being so well-padded, even if they’re narrow.

  • The seats are manual on all grades, but the front seats and rear outboard seats are heated. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The seats are manual on all grades, but the front seats and rear outboard seats are heated. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The seats are well-padded yet narrow. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The seats are well-padded yet narrow. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

My five-year old really missed having some amenities in the backseat (there are none) but did get a decent view because of the higher seat position. The lower height of the car made it easy for him to scramble in and out too.

Charging is easy and plugging it in overnight in my garage did the trick of keeping the battery topped up and stopping any dreaded ‘range anxiety’ but the Leaf isn't as fast to charge as newer EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6.

Charging is easy but isn't as fast to charge as newer EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
Charging is easy but isn't as fast to charge as newer EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How safe is it?

The Leaf comes with some great safety features, like: auto emergency braking (AEB) – with pedestrian detection, lane keeping tech, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a handy rear-view mirror that can be switched over to show a camera feed of the rear.

It has the usual airbags but it doesn’t have a driver’s knee airbag or a front centre airbag like you find on some newer cars.

 The Leaf comes with some great safety features, like rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Leaf comes with some great safety features, like rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

This version of the Leaf is unrated at the time of this review but the smaller motored version scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing done in 2018. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsafe, but it’s something to consider.

There are ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats plus three top tether child seat mounts but you’ll only be fitting two child seats comfortably. It was easy to fit a child seat but front passengers will lose some room when a 0-4 rearward-facing child seat is installed.

Front passengers will lose some room when a 0-4 rearward-facing child seat is installed. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Front passengers will lose some room when a 0-4 rearward-facing child seat is installed. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

What’s the tech like?

It’s okay but it could be better. For example, there’s only one USB outlet, and just one 12-volt port (which is in the boot) in the whole car, leaving passengers without the means to stay charged up as the USB-A port will most likely be in use by the driver for the wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto function.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system is simple to understand but the graphics look a little boring. As a bonus, it has built-in satellite navigation, which I always like to have.

The partial digital instrument panel is easy to read but not super customisable.

Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How much does it cost to own?

There are two models available, the smaller motored Leaf and our model, the e+. The e+ has a greater driving range and motor size but will cost you $61,490 before on-road costs.

The Leaf comes with Nissan’s five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is pretty standard but it also comes with five-years roadside assistance which is great for peace of mind and an eight-year/160,000k battery warranty.

The Leaf comes with Nissan’s five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Leaf comes with Nissan’s five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

It has six-years capped-price servicing and services average $306, which is competitive for a small car but a bit expensive for an electric one. Servicing intervals are every 12 months or a longer than usual 20,000km, whichever occurs first.

If you’re considering an electric vehicle, you get some good features on the Leaf and it’s at the more affordable end of the electric car price scale.

Nissan provides six-years of capped-price servicing and services average $306. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Nissan provides six-years of capped-price servicing and services average $306. (Image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

The Nissan Leaf e+ offers a competitive driving range for today’s market. Couple that with the charging infrastructure that’s been added in the last couple of years and you have a car you can reasonably have full-time (with some careful planning). The price is attractive for an EV but expensive for a small car. This should suit a small family with older kids who live in the city but I would have liked a more consistent open road driving performance and a more useable boot space. Plus, it’s not terribly fun for an EV … so this gets a 6.5/10. My son liked the Lego car vibes but it didn’t have enough amenities in the rear for him, so he gave it a 5.0/10.

Likes

ePedal – simple and effective
Can charge at home
Heavily padded seats

Dislikes

Slow to charge
Range depletes quickly on hills
Wobbly/unsure of itself on open road

Scores

Emily:

3

The Kids:

2.5

$38,990 - $52,990

Based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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