We drove the Nissan Leaf to Malacca and back on a single charge!
1. Driving the Nissan Leaf for the first time
Firstly, a big thank you to ETCM for providing us with this opportunity to review the Nissan Leaf. They allowed us to do an extended range test on the new Nissan Leaf. The short version of it, we drove the EV from Nissan Jalan Ipoh to Malacca. We also got back to Kuala Lumpur on a single charge, barely.
This Nissan Leaf review is based on my first time ever driving a Nissan Leaf. I will also be comparing this car to our older 1st gen Renault Zoe. Check out our previous article on the 2019 Nissan Leaf when it just reached Malaysia.
2. Driving Impressions
The first thing that I notice when driving the Nissan Leaf is how quiet the car is. Even when the Zoe doesn't have any engine noise, the Leaf is much better in keeping the road noise out of the cabin.
In term of driving, the Leaf feels pretty much like a typical Japanese car. The suspension is rather busy and yet it does not feel sporty. It is not like the Renault Zoe which has a continental feel to it. Zoe is quite fun to drive fast around corners and for me it is more comfortable than the Leaf.
In terms of power, I did not have the chance to give it a real go. Our intention for this Nissan Leaf review is actually to push the range as far as possible on a single charge. I started driving with the Eco mode off but immediately switched it on after touching the accelerator pedal.
From standstill, the accelerator with Eco mode off is way too sensitive and punchy for me to get as much range as possible. The accelerator sensitivity is just like a typical Japanese car's throttle pedal would feel.
3. Features and Technologies
In terms of features, I did not find anything outstanding on the Leaf when compared to the 5 years old Renault Zoe. Only the one pedal driving and the automatic emergency braking are not available on the Zoe.
I did not use the one pedal driving while trying to get as much range as possible. This is because I believe free gliding would be more efficient than recuperating to get more range.
Even the infotainment system on the Zoe is better with a bigger touch screen and navigation system. The software can also be updated to support Android Auto. This would allow you to control Waze, Spotify and other apps on the touch screen. The instrument cluster on the old Zoe is a full digital screen while the Leaf is still using an analogue speedo meter.
4. Driving Range and Efficiency
Now, touching on the most important part of the Nissan Leaf review which is the battery range. Honestly, it came out a bit short of my expectation. The Nissan Leaf has a much bigger battery capacity of 40 kWh when compared to our 22 kWh Renault Zoe. The unit that we drove only had around 3,000 km mileage on it. I was expecting that the Leaf should come close to double the range of our Zoe but that was not really the case.
In fact on 26th September 2019, we did a range test on 3 different units of the 5 years old Zoe. The highest mileage unit has clocked 30,000 km and it is still able to cover 160 km with about 20% battery left at the end of the test (17 kWh energy used reported by the on-board computer). We drove the Leaf the same way, maybe even with a bit more hypermiling towards the end. Yet, we barely managed to get 290 km range with 2% battery left at the end of the journey.
I think the reason for this is the energy consumption is higher on the Leaf. It is a heavier car and it is very difficult to bring down the average consumption to below 12 kWh / 100 km on the Leaf. When we drove the Zoe to Langkawi with a full load in the car, we can still keep the average consumption to around 11.4 kWh / 100 km quite easily even without using EV tyres.
The Zoe range test we did a in September 2019 back was only with a single driver and with EV tyres so we managed to lower the consumption to 10.8kWh/100km.
5. Range Estimation and Driving Data
I could not find any record of the energy usage by the Leaf for the journey anywhere in the display panel. Due to this, it is quite difficult for me to know how much energy is still available for the rest of our journey. The Zoe has this energy usage information available in its trip report.
We can only estimate the energy usage for the Nissan Leaf based on our 11.8 kWh / 100 km average consumption at the end of the 290 km journey. The calculated energy used is 34 kWh with 2% state of charge left. This is actually lower than the claimed 40 kWh battery capacity. Maybe there is a reserve to ensure that the driving range will not drop after few years down the road.
In term of the range estimation display on the instrument panel, I would say that the Leaf is showing an optimistic range most of the time. We drove off with an estimated reachable range of 277 km after resetting the on-board computer. Even with a really careful driving, we barely exceed this value to 290 km. I would say with a normal driving, the actual driving range will be lower than the displayed range estimation.
6. Managing the Available Energy
We would normally use Waze to see how many km left for us to reach the destination. Then, we will compare it with the available range displayed on the instrument panel. On the Leaf, we failed to improve the estimated range during our journey regardless of what we did to save the battery.
The Zoe on the other hand, would show in the beginning that we have a 40 km deficit on the estimated range against the actual distance to destination. However, the more we drive the Zoe carefully, the smaller the distance gap will be. It is sort of giving us a hope that we would be able to reach the destination by driving carefully.
7. A Great Daily Car
Learning from this Nissan Leaf review, the 40 kWh version of the electric car offers more than enough range for your daily usage. Provided that you have an overnight charger at home, you will not get any range anxiety driving the Leaf in Klang Valley.
With normal driving, I would say the range on a full charge should be between 230-260 km. Regardless of how fast you are driving, I doubt that you will be able to use up all the battery capacity in a single day within Klang Valley. The lack of charging infrastructure should not be an issue or excuse for you not to use the Leaf as your daily ride.
8. DC Charging for Longer Journeys
The Nissan Leaf should be able to do the round trip from Klang Valley to Malacca at 100 km/h. easily provided that the journey would start and end at Nichicon CHAdeMO fast charger. Starting and ending the journey at Nissan Jalan Ipoh would add another 60 km distance which is quite a big challenge actually.
If the CHAdeMO DC charger at Ayer Keroh is working, a short stop for toilet, coffee and prayer break should add enough distance to give you the peace of mind for the journey.
9. Type 1 Charging Plug Availability
We passed by so many Type 2 charging stations on our journey to Malacca and back. The Zoe would be able to use these chargers if required but the Nissan Leaf does not come with a type 1 to type 2 charging cable. Our back-up plans are only the Type 1 charger at Nissan Seremban which needs a detour or the DC charger at Nichicon Bangi which is only open during office hours.
Regardless, driving the Leaf slowly from Nissan Jalan Ipoh to Malacca and back is still faster than having multiple charging stops with the Zoe. Having a Type 1 to Type 2 charging cable would give us more charging options for the journey. This would also give us a peace of mind when we can charge while stopping at some of these rest areas.
Before taking on a commitment to buy a brand new electric car, why not rent the Zoe from us for a short period first. You will then be able to experience an electric car yourself without the long term commitment. If you are still concerned with the maintenance and the battery replacement cost, then our leasing packages would be the suitable low risk option for you!
Furthermore, we also have a few units of used Renault Zoe electric car for sale. These cars are still in great condition and you would not believe how much you can save when compared to a brand new unit.