By Karine Lajoie
We were initially a bit disappointed in the second-generation LEAf that debuted last year, mainly because of the meager increase in range delivered by the manufacturer in relation to the first generation. We were hoping for more than the 241 km range the model ended up getting. But in the glass-half-full department, that still puts the 2019 LEAF ahead of models like the Hyundai IONIQ (200 km) and the Volkswagen e-Golf (201 km).
And then of course there’s the extended-range E-Plus version of the LEAF, long-promised but still undelivered as of now. It’s supposed to arrive by the end of 2018 or early in 2019, but there’s no sign of it… yet.
Other than that biggie, the news is small regarding the 2019 LEAF. Nissan has added a rear-door alert system for 2019, but that’s about it!
As we said, nothing’s very different in the 2019 LEAF in comparison with last year, which got a substantial revamp to mark the debut of its second generation. Overall, Nissan has opted with the LEAF 2.0 for a more sober look, with less-eccentric features that should help its look age well, at least until the next generation which is likely a few years away.
Still no sunroof this year, alas. Other than that, the past two weeks we’ve driven both the SV and SL models, which are the two highest trims for the new LEAF, and found the cloth-upholstered seating of the SV version to be more comfortable. Overall, the LEAF is spacious inside for such a small car, and legroom in both front and back rows is more than adequate.
The commands on the dashboard are well-defined, and everything is as accessible as you would hope. The only exception is the navigation system, which I still prefer not to use, mainly because of its lack of precision in the info it provides. In terms of the finishing, you still find quite a bit of plastic surfaces, but the presentation overall hides that fact quite well.
The ergonomics of the LEAF’s interior design are to be saluted, and I’m thinking here specifically of the trunk. While it’s not as big as the BOLT EV’s, the opening is designed in a more thoughtful way, making it much easier to load heavier and larger objects into the LEAF.
The e-Pedal is as practical and easy to use as ever. Starting with the SV trim, you get Nissan’s ProPilot, which for my money is one of the best drive-assist systems I’ve tried up until now. The sensors are well-calibrated, as are the vehicle’s movements. I found it a pleasure and an advantage to use these functions when driving in traffic; on the other hand I preferred to deactivate them when driving on the highway with little traffic - with the exception of the trusty e-Pedal, which allowed me to forego using the brake pedal almost completely.
For 2019, a new premium Bose audio system is available with the SL version, but you might be hard-pressed to notice the difference with the SV’s regular audio system operated through the 7-inch screen.
A practical city car
Economical and highly practical, the 2019 LEAF has become a well-established car on the Canadian market. For many it represents a wonderful way to commute to work without ever stopping at the pump! And if you’re still, reasonably, suffering from range anxiety due to the LEAF’S current 241-km range, take solace in the fact that a Statistics Canada study found that the average daily commute of Canadian motorists is only 41 km, return. Unless you do substantially more than that every day, you’re liable to fall quickly in love with your new LEAF!
When it comes to doing the occasional longer treks, keep in mind that, month by month, the network of public charging stations is becoming more widespread; plus, they’re now able to recharge your car’s battery more quickly than before, and that is expected to keep improving.
The powertrain and charging system
The 2019 LEAF runs on a 110-kWh synchronous AC motor fed by a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery. The transmission that accompanies it is single-gear, of course. (A big plus of electric-powered vehicles is that they give to access to all of the available torque as soon as you hit the gas pedal!).
On the road
The LEAF is as agreeable to drive as you would hope from a city car. Just starting that near-silent, vibration-free electric motor is an instant de-stresser! The aforementioned e-Pedal does require some initial adjustments, forcing the driver to adopt a slower, more relaxed tempo and manoeuvre more gently. Voilà, more stress relief! I honestly found that driving the LEAF left me more relaxed than did driving a gas-powered vehicle.
Nissan claims to offer the best of both worlds with its 2019 LEAF. Sitting between the electric Hyundai IONIQ (200-km range, $31,999 starting price) and the Chevrolet Bolt (383-km range, $43,095 starting price), the LEAF, according to its manufacturer, occupies the sweet spot in its segment.
For me, there’s no doubt this car is aimed squarely at city dwellers, which I am not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a second car for running errands in the vicinity of home. This year, the team at Auto123.com recommends the SV version for the equipment and comfort it offers in relation to its price.
The LEAF’s range, as we await the E-Plus version, is acceptable, and it comes with a competitive price tag. It’s also pleasant to drive, and is equipped with a solid drive-assist system. It would be nice to have that sunroof, and to have a telescopic steering column to allow for some adjusting. The base model of the LEAF is also a little bereft of features for my taste.