The Nissan Leaf, the car that sparked the mainstream electric car segment into second gear, has been redesigned, gaining a fresher style, more technology and longer driving range to better compete with the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3 and other new EV challengers.
For starters, the second-generation Leaf gains a bigger battery (40-kWh) that provides approximately 150 miles of driving range, a 40-percent increase over the previous model. As good as that is, that level of performance actually places the electric hatchback in the middle of the pack, beating the Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s 124 miles, Honda Clarity’s 89 miles and BMW i3’s 81 miles but falling far short of the Chevy Bolt’s 238 miles and Tesla Model 3’s 220-310 miles.
A new, more capable electric motor also grants the Leaf with a significant power increase, delivering 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Nissan’s engineers refined the chassis for better stability and revamped the electric steering system for a more linear feel.
The exterior of the new Leaf is an evolution over the its predecessor, eschewing a quirky design for a more traditional look highlighted by Nissan’s trademark V-Motion grille and a floating roof.
Ditto with the technologically-superior interior, which has the same general layout as the previous Leaf’s and boasts upgraded versions of the same switchgear. Why mess with something that isn’t broken, right?
All models come standard with a single ‘e-Pedal’ system that allows drivers to accelerate, cruise, decelerate and stop using just one pedal. Simply removing your foot from the pedal initiates a 0.2g deceleration, eliminating the need for a brake pedal in most situations.
The new Nissan Leaf launches in the Japan in the closing months of 2017 and arrives in North America in early 2018 with a starting price of $30,875 in the United States, a price point that undercuts the competition.
A more powerful Leaf variant with even longer range will be released for the 2019 model year.
So, what do you think, does the new Nissan Leaf have what it takes to outsell the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and other mainstream electric cars? Let’s not mention the Tesla Model 3 — that car is in a league of its own popularity-wise.