Company car review of the Nissan LEAF Electric Car Visia 80kW Auto
What is it?
It’s the facelifted Nissan Leaf; an updated version of the Japanese manufacturer’s all-electric family hatchback.
As you can see from the pictures, the actual exterior changes are very minor indeed but there have been some changes to practicality, range and price.
A new pricing structure and battery leasing option means the Nissan Leaf now starts from just £15,990 (paying between £70 and £125 a month to lease the batteries), the range has been boosted from 109 miles to 124 miles, and there’s now more space in the boot.
- A new entry-level Visia model marks the starting point to the range, and if you choose to buy the battery it’s £20,990 (after the £5000 government grant) – that’s £2500 less than the previous cheapest model.
- Nissan has shed 32kg from the kerbweight, dropping the 0-62mph time from 11.9 to 11.5 seconds. There’s a real kick of acceleration when you floor the throttle, too.
- Nothing is as quiet and relaxing to drive as a Nissan Leaf. Its smooth and silent progress completely takes the stress out of driving in town.
- The ride is nice and soft, protecting you from the majority of bumps in the road. It’s actually a little firmer than the old Leaf but that car was probably a little too soft.
- The steering has been tweaked to be more natural and a bit weightier. It’s worked, but the Leaf is by no means a sharp car to drive. The steering is still too vague, numb and slow.
- The charging unit has been moved from the boot to underneath the bonnet, which frees up an extra 40 litres of space in the boot. The total is now 370 litres.
- Until 2015 electric cars like the Nissan are exempt from company car tax and the National Insurance Contribution is as low as it can be. The Leaf is also exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
- That new 124-mile range makes a difference. Range anxiety doesn’t seem like as much of a problem when you switch it on to find you’ve got over 100 miles before it runs out.
- There’s a new heater in mid-spec Acenta and top-spec Tekna models, too, which is 70 per cent more efficient than the old heater. The big plus is that it doesn’t zap 20 miles from the range as soon as you switch it on.
- Going for entry-level Visia models means you get the old inefficient heater so you still feel like you’ve got the same old range issues.
- The Visia also looks a fair bit cheaper than other Leafs. It has black plastic wing mirrors, no tinted windows and the cabin doesn’t get the same fancy gloss black plastics or sat-nav screen as other models.
- The brakes can feel a little odd as they mix between regenerative braking and mechanical braking. It’s most obvious with a sudden grabbing at low speeds.
- It’s still impractical owning a Leaf if you live in a block of flats or don’t have off-street parking. You really need a garage or driveway to charge it.
Business Car Manager verdict
Until 2015, there is no company car tax charged on electric cars. Factor in exemption from the London Congestion Charge, and no road tax, and the Leaf can begin to look very attractive if it fits your motoring profile.
The Nissan Leaf certainly won’t work for everyone though, because despite its new and improved range, it’s still only suitable for short journeys. You’ll need to have a safe and accessible place to recharge it, too.
If the Leaf does work for you then you’ll welcome the new options for purchasing one and the updates to the way it feels from behind the wheel.
The cost of leasing the batteries is dependent on how many miles you cover, but with prices starting from £70 per month it may work out as the same you’d spend on fuel in a month anyway.
What’s more, because of the tweaks to the suspension and steering the Leaf now feels more like a traditional car in the way it rides and handles, while still boasting the same silent progress and relaxing drivetrain.
In terms of running costs, the Leaf is either a miniscule couple of pence per mile if you only consider the costs of re-charging, or very considerably more if you factor in depreciation.
One piece of advice, though, is to avoid the new entry-level Visia model. Without the new heater you’ll see the range plummet when you switch it on, and that’s something that won’t happen in the mid-spec Acenta or top-spec Tekna models.
Click here for more on how the Nissan Leaf’s leasing costs have come down.
Nissan Leaf: the Low Down…
|Doors and body style||5-door hatchback|
|Engine/gearbox||Electric motor/Single-sped front wheel drive|
…and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||From £189/month|
|Road tax (VED)||Band A|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2013/14 to 2015/16||0%, 0%, 5%|
|Benefit in kind 2013/14 to 2015/16||£0, £0, £1297|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£0|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£0|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£0|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£0|
|Figures correct at time of posting|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|