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2013 Nissan Leaf first drive review

Second-generation Nissan Leaf first drive review

Now in its second generation, the all-electric Nissan Leaf boasts improved dynamics and an increased driving range between charges

This is the second-generation Nissan Leaf, which is now not only built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant but has also been given a significant overhaul. Under the skin there are around 100 engineering changes and there’s a new pricing structure that allows buyers to either buy the Leaf and battery outright, or buy the car and lease the battery.The are three trim levels, starting with Visia, followed by Acenta and Tekna. Including the government purchase grant for electric cars, the cheapest Leaf is the Visia bought with the battery on lease, which costs £15,990.There are five battery-lease deals, based on annual mileages of 7500, 9000, 10,500, 12,000 or 15,000 miles over 12, 24 or 36 months. Agree to keep your annual travel down to 7500 miles over 36 months and the battery lease costs £70 month. 10,500 miles costs £85 and 15,000 miles £109. The most expensive way of buying a new Leaf is to choose the range-topping Tekna with the battery pack, which will set you back £25,490 including the government grant of £5000.The Leaf Visia has a fairly stripped-out specification: it doesn’t have sat-nav, a reversing camera, folding mirrors or auto wipers, but does have steel wheels and a four-speaker stereo. More seriously, the real-world range of the Visia is unlikely to match that of the more expensive sister cars because it does without the new pump-driven heating system, which engineers say is up to 70 per cent more efficient than the current Leaf’s heater.Buy the mid-range Acenta and you’ll get all that kit as well as alloys, a six-speaker stereo and niceties such as the Car Wings application that allows the car’s heating and charging to be controlled remotely.Go up to the Tekna and you’ll benefit from all-round vision cameras (including cameras in the front and under the wing mirrors), a Bose sound system (with a boot-mounted subwoofer), LED headlamps and a new ‘Cold Pack’ that delivers heated seats front and rear as well as a heated steering wheel. There’s also the option of a 6.6kW charger, which could half the full charging time of eight hours with a typical 10A charger.More important are the engineering changes, which have changed the character and usability of the Leaf considerably. Starting at the rear, the battery charger has been relocated from the boot, reduced 30 per cent in size and mounted on top of the engine. The electric motor is said to have reduced inertia and is now around five percent more efficient.