2018 Nissan Leaf

Performance


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2018 Nissan Leaf Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

Performance improves noticeably with the new generation of the Nissan Leaf. For 2018, upgrades include more power (for zestier acceleration), a retuned suspension (making the Leaf feel more controlled), and a longer range. Though the Leaf is not sporty, it is fun to drive and exceptionally efficient.

  • "It's a spirited drive that's plenty fun, and it has good handling. It feels like simply a fun compact car and only reminds you it's an electric with the notable absence of engine noise and its unique e-Pedal feature. Still, you won't find yourself thinking about the fact that you're driving an electric." -- Boston Globe
  • "On the road, the new Leaf has a more comfortable, relaxed feel. The cabin is quieter, even on the highway." -- Autotrader
  • "At its essence, e-Pedal allows you to drive the Leaf using only the accelerator. The great thing about e-Pedal, though, is that you can turn it on or off with the flip of a switch. Just toggle the selector on the center console – the one that looks like an electronic parking brake – and you're all set for one-pedal driving. Press the accelerator to go, ease off to slow down and lift off completely to come to a stop. It begins to feel natural quickly, especially if you've experienced one-pedal driving or even a braking mode in other electrified cars." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The new Leaf generation comes with a more powerful electric motor than the previous generation, with horsepower increasing from 107 to 147. This gives the Leaf brisk acceleration, and helps it feel livelier than before.

Other components of the Leaf's EV powertrain include a single-speed transmission and a 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The EPA has not yet released its range and mpg-e specs on the 2018 Leaf, but Nissan estimates the Leaf can drive up to 151 miles on a single charge and gets 124 mpg-e. Both figures are above average.

A 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger is included with the Leaf. It can fully recharge the Leaf in about 35 hours with a 110-volt connection or 7.5 hours with a 220-volt connection. The available Quick Charge option gives you the ability to recharge up to 80 percent in 40 minutes.

  • "With its longer range, the Nissan Leaf may entice doubters to try an EV for the first time. What they will discover is instantaneous power delivery from the motor. The Leaf is snappy right off the line and has excellent mid-range passing power." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Without a doubt, its extra power and torque renders the new Leaf satisfyingly quicker and more responsive." -- Motor Trend
  • "Getting the new Leaf up to those speeds is a notably quicker affair thanks to its updated electric motor. … Just how much zippier the 2018 Leaf is will be confirmed when we get one on the test track. As before, the motor makes a mild whirring sound, and at speeds below 18 mph the Leaf emits a Jetsonian electronic tone externally to alert pedestrians of its otherwise-silent presence." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Handling improvements for 2018 have resulted in a more responsive steering system, a suspension system that better limits body roll, and the new e-Pedal. This last feature engages the regenerative brake system when you let off on the throttle, slowing the car down to a stop. This one-pedal driving is especially helpful in traffic. Ride quality is quiet and comfortable.

  • "Better still, suspension updates aimed at managing the 2018 Leaf's mild weight gain over the 2017 model have removed most of the flop and roll from the old model's soggy handling. The Leaf is now composed when driven spiritedly and exhibits little body roll, thanks in part to 10-percent-stiffer anti-roll bars. The steering is much improved, too, with a quicker ratio, good response, and a more satisfying heft than before. The car is also more refined than before, with the suspension absorbing impacts with less noise." -- Car and Driver
  • "The redesign also has netted a vehicle that feels more substantial than the original. The steering is light, which is in keeping with the Leaf's primary mission of urban and freeway commuting. While the Leaf is not a performance car by any stretch of the imagination, its low center of gravity and stance give it a planted feel that translates to driver confidence. It acts and drives like a real car and not a science project." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Interior noise is phenomenally hush-a nice complement to its supple yet controlled ride quality (absent of the bounding I've sometimes noticed in the Bolt). Indeed, it's downright limousinelike compared to the Model 3's German sport sedan tautness." -- Motor Trend
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