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 Co-wheels Member and motoring journalist, Emma Woodcock, took our new Nissan LEAF out for a test-drive. Here's her review. 

Leaf 09

Press the pulsing orange circle and the dashboard springs to life with the chirpy crescendo of a Baymax fist-bump. Now you’re good to go: welcome to the Nissan LEAF. It’s the world of tomorrow… today!

Driving around town, the LEAF is supreme. The steering is light and the ride softer than its competitors while the lack of any interior noise renders progress serene if slightly eery.

In ‘D eco’ the pedals are smooth and the response predictable.

Overall, the experience is far more soothing than an internal-combustion powered car. 

Leaf 05

Switching into ‘B’ mode requires greater recalibration. You have to keep a steady foot on the accelerator to maintain speed, as lifting off triggers regenerative braking strong enough to stop the car from 40mph. This effect equals the strength of the mechanical braking system in an ordinary car and soon allows you to drive the LEAF using only the accelerator to both increase and decrease speed.

Higher speeds are more problematic. In eco mode, the LEAF slows at 50mph before reaching terminal velocity at 63mph.

Moving into non-eco mode allows you to reach the motorway limit at the expense of charge: it’s alarming to watch the available range drop one mile for every 15 seconds driving.

In non-eco mode the LEAF will accelerate from a standstill to 30mph as quickly as a Golf GTi. The force is linear and abrupt and the silence marked: it’s more like riding a rollercoaster than driving a conventional car.

Of course, it’s a useless party trick in daily driving.Leaf 07

Over the course of an afternoon’s testing I covered 33 miles on a variety of different roads and across all of the available powertrain modes.

The projected range fell from 80 miles – a full charge – to 35: a rate of 1.36 miles projected range to each mile covered. In turn, some hasty maths suggests a real-world range of 58.5 miles in mixed usage.

That could take you to Nottingham if you manage your speed or on a return trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Ultimately, the LEAF is a genuine competitor for internal-combustion powered cars in urban and semi-urban driving. While it’s uncomfortable at

high speed and incapable of the longest journeys, it counters with better

comfort, noise reduction and drivability around town. If you mostly use

Co-wheels cars for journeys in the West Midlands, it’s well worth considering.

Leaf 13

I’m sold! Where and how much?

The Nissan LEAF is hidden behind Bournville Community Hub, sipping electricity and awaiting your booking.

Don’t let it down… Look at those sad anime eyes! Under the 2016 pricing structure, hire will cost £5.25 per hour and £36.75 per 24-hour period.

However, as an electric vehicle, the LEAF doesn’t attract a mileage charge.

 

Emma Woodcock is a professional motoring journalist with five years’ industry experience across a number of magazines and websites. One of them was Portuguese. She knows far too much about cars and her grandma once called one of her articles ‘quite good’. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..