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There is no escaping the fact that the rush to deliver electric cars is on. However, to win over converts two key elements must be in place, more public charging points and lower purchase or leasing costs for such vehicles. I have to admit, progress has been made in terms of range and this reminds me vividly of my first experience with an electric vehicle. It was some years ago when I was asked would I like to try a small van from Citroen and almost immediately experienced disappointment as I travelled a mere eight kilometres until I ran out of power.

There has been quite a leap forward in terms of range, as I discovered when I took the wheel of the second generation Nissan Leaf. Nissan claim it to be the world’s best-selling zero-emissions electric vehicle. Embodying the company’s Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, this new model has been reinvented to offer greater range, dynamic design, advanced driver assistance technologies and enhanced connectivity. Very often as regards all electric cars I have had criticism from fellow motorists as to why many are simply ugly, I can not say that about the new Leaf, it really does look good and only the badging gives the game away.

According to the manufacturer, the new model I tested offers an improved range of 376km on a single charge, allowing you to enjoy longer journeys and the new e-powertrain also delivers 214bhp, improving both acceleration and driver enjoyment. I did manage to speak to an owner and he has managed 283km on a single charge. He was quick to add that getting the best range was all down to the manner the Leaf is driven. The same owner had the first generation Leaf and with some clever planning he was able to journey from Drogheda to Enniskillen on a regular basis, he finds it so much better with the new model. Yes another pleasing feature I discovered was the lively performance especially from standstill. I must admit I did not have the new Leaf long enough to provide my own range data, but it certainly is a huge leap forward from the first generation model.

The new model is packed with ingenious technology, including ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system for a confident, more comfortable drive; it uses the steering, braking and acceleration to assist the driver within single lane, low speed traffic and highway cruising scenarios. In slow moving traffic it enables you to autonomously slowdown and stop where traffic flow ceases. It will then start to follow the car in front when the flow resumes. Also included is ProPILOT Park for fully autonomous parking. Yet another useful feature, revolutionary e-Pedal technology transforms the way people drive by letting them start, accelerate, decelerate and stop, simply by increasing or decreasing the pressure applied to the accelerator. When the accelerator is fully released, the hydraulic and friction brakes are applied automatically, bringing the car to a complete stop and regenerating the braking energy to recharge the battery. The car holds its position, even on steep up and downhill slopes, until the accelerator is pressed again, taking the stress out of driving like never before. Returning to the looks department, a sleek profile, sharp, dynamic looks and excellent aerodynamics make it aesthetically appealing to buyers and anyone familiar with Nissan design characteristics will recognise its signature boomerang-shaped lamps, V-motion flow in the front, flush-surface grille in clear blue and rear bumper’s blue moulding. There is a completely redesigned interior, which is focused on the driver and combines the clever use of space with optimum functionality. A front panel in the form of a ‘gliding wing’ and vibrant blue stitching in the seats, dashboard and steering wheel, create a relaxed ambience and a clean quality feel. Meanwhile, the new 7-inch, full-colour (TFT) display highlights key features, including the Safety Shield technology, power gauge and information from the audio and navigation systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been integrated for enhanced connectivity.

If you have never driven or thought of taking the all electric motoring route, it’s worth getting up close with the new Leaf. It did impress, but I am not yet a fan of electric powered cars. I should add that there are two power choices available, 40KWH and 62KWH..

Ian Lynas

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