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Nissan Leaf Review

Following up on my quick comparison of the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Up!, and BMW i3 — as well as full reviews of the Volkswagen e-Up! and BMW i3 — here’s a “full” review of the 2014 Nissan Leaf from two short test drives in Barcelona, Spain.

Nissan Leafs in Barcelona, Spain.(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

Nissan Leafs in Barcelona, Spain.
(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

One-Line 2014 Nissan Leaf Review

The Nissan Leaf is an excellent car — far nicer than any comparably priced gasmobile I’ve ever driven — with excellent acceleration, a super smooth drive, quite a lot of space inside, numerous driving options, and an excellent visualization program.

Driving in the Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf — the best-selling electric car in the world — has great pickup and is super quiet and smooth, like every EV. The Leaf has an “Eco” driving option that can make the car drive much more efficiently, saving you some money and extending the range of your vehicle in between charges. The button for this is quite large, green, and prominently located on your steering wheel. This, of course, makes it easier to switch in or out of this greener driving mode, but it also calls out to you and reminds you to be intelligent and drive greener. I’m not sure if that was intended, but if it was, I think it was a clever idea.

However, that’s not the only thing the prominently placed and designed button does. Driving in Eco, the car makes you step on the pedal harder in order to go faster — it puts more resistance on the pedal — and what that results in is that, when you press the button to move out of Eco mode while you are already driving, you get a big burst of speed. You come to notice this very quickly while driving the car. I loved it, and it was hard not to just play with that power booster. The practical point, though, is that when you need a quick burst of speed, you know that you can very easily slide your right thumb over to the Eco button and release it for that tremendous burst (assuming you’re driving in Eco mode by default). It reminded me of hitting the turbo button in racing or sports video games.

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.
(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.
(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

The Leaf also has a couple of braking modes. In B-mode, there is more regenerative braking than in the default or even the Eco mode, so the car starts to brake on its own faster when you release the electricity pedal (what we’d call the gas pedal in a gasmobile). I think having a couple options here is a very nice thing.

The Leaf has a pretty sweet visualization program to help you back into the location you are aiming for when going in reverse. It’s quite intuitive and lets you get into your spot without having to do any in-seat gymnastics/yoga or having to ask someone how much space you have. It seems quite convenient and I imagine it is appreciated by many a Leaf owner.

Nissan Leaf Interior.Credit: Nissan.

Nissan Leaf Interior.
Credit: Nissan.

There are also dashboard visualizations for remaining charge, projected range (in the current driving mode), and more. It’s all attractive and very clear.

There’s plenty of space in the car, and the general look of the inside of the car is fairly similar to that of a normal car, which I guess some people may like and some people may want to get away from — I’m not sure where I personally stand on that one. The front interior of the car reminded me of a Toyota Camry.

With quite a low center of gravity (due the the batteries), the Leaf feels good and very stable on turns. This is another one of those benefits that exists in most EVs.

Nissan Leafs Barcelona

Nissan Leaf Price

Before the $7,500 federal tax credit and any state or city tax credits available in your area, the base price for a new Nissan Leaf (the Nissan Leaf S) is $28,980. After the $7,500 federal tax credit, the price is $21,480. The lease price for that version is $199/month.

For the Nissan Leaf SV, the base price is $31,820 ($24,320) or $249/month for the lease. For the Nissan Leaf SL, the base price is $34,840 ($27,340) or $296/month for the lease.

The following can be added on for the prices shown:

Nissan Leaf S

  • Charge package — Nissan 6.6 kW Onboard Charger (6 kW Output), Quick Charge Port, RearView Mirror ($1,300)

Nissan Leaf SV

  • LED Headlights and Quick Charge Port Package — Aerodynamic LED headlights; Automatic on/off headlights, Quick Charge Port, Fog lights ($1,630)
  • Premium Package — Around View Mirror, Boss Premium Audio System ($1,050)

Nissan Leaf SL

  • Premium Package — Around View Mirror, Boss Premium Audio System ($1,050)

Other accessories are of course also available.

Nissan Leaf Facts

Here are some key facts on each of the Nissan Leaf versions:

Nissan Leaf S

  • 107 Horsepower
  • 129/102 city/hwy MPGe
  • 5 Seats / 4 Doors
  • High response 80 kW AC synchronous electric motor
  • Zero emissions
  • Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Ignition
  • Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System
  • Heated front and rear seats

Nissan Leaf SV

  • 107 Horsepower
  • 129/102 city/hwy MPGe
  • 5 Seats / 4 Doors
  • All Nissan Leaf S features
  • Nissan Navigation System
  • CARWINGS®
  • 16″ Aluminum-alloy wheels
  • 6.6 kW Onboard Charger

Nissan Leaf SL

  • 107 Horsepower
  • 129/102 city/hwy MPGe
  • 5 Seats / 4 Doors
  • All Nissan Leaf SV features
  • 17″ Aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Quick charge port
  • Automatic on/off LED headlights
  • Fog Lights

Naturally, for more details, you can jump over to the Nissan Leaf webpage.

You can also check out incentives in your area and estimate how much you could save with the Leaf over there.

 
Written By

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, SCTY, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB. After years of covering solar and EVs, he simply had a lot of faith in these companies and felt like they were good companies to invest in as a portion of his retirement strategy. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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