- Built-in car system seamlessly connects to smartphone
- Driving experience of the Leaf can be summarised in 3 words – instantaneous raw acceleration
- Typical EV charging point has 2 charging options – AC and CCS. The charging points at Tan Chong showrooms have an additional one – CHAdeMo
- AC and CCS charging take up to 8 hours for full charge; CHAdeMo rapid charging takes 1 hour for full charge
The pleasant, unassuming stock version of the Nissan Leaf’s 2019 model has a few noticeable features; namely its 17” rims, contrasting body to roof colour and its new sporty contour. I had my reservations upon approaching the car, and I must say it looks refreshingly larger than the Leaf I had in mind.
Keyless entry into the car was about the same as any other, but it took an extra minute to get into ‘drive’ mode. The built-in car system that connects to my smartphone gave me breezy access to calls and my playlist during the drive.
Now, this gear stick is uniquely Nissan’s. I would call it a more knobby gear stick than what you all usually know as the conventional ‘stick’ shift. Depressing the ‘P’ button on the knob of the gear stick engages the Leaf into park mode. This can take place even while the car is in motion (don’t ask how we know!). Applying the brake while hitting the start/stop button takes the driver into ‘ignition’ mode and the brake lever has to be depressed to be engaged into ‘drive’.
The driving experience of the Leaf can be summarised in 3 words – instantaneous raw acceleration. Moving off from a stationary position seems effortless. It feels like there is more power waiting to be squeezed out if I depress the pedal further, but I was almost exceeding the speed limit at this point.
Handling is light and thereabouts expected in city driving. The interior space would comfortably sit a family of 5 and I didn’t see a spare tyre in the boot. Boot space is rather decent and can contain around the same amount as a similar sized car. With reclinable rear seats, there is ample space for transporting small furniture. Suspension is on the softer, more comfortable side and driving over minor road bumps is still somewhat satisfying.
Moving around the city in dense traffic areas was easy. Overtaking and manoeuvring with smooth acceleration and a silent interior was a great way to unwind after a long day’s work.
The driving experience with the E-pedal creates a different feel altogether. You immediately receive a sense of evident forceful braking feedback. It will bring the car to a complete stop once you release the accelerator and I reckon it’ll work best in cases of heavy and slow moving traffic. I understand that this braking feedback actually is Nissan’s technology of using the forward motion of the car to charge the battery.
So after travelling around 190km in the city area of Singapore, battery life was at 30%. I was starting to feel a little anxious over being stranded on the middle of the expressway if the car battery died on me, so I headed over to the Tan Chong showroom to get a quick charge.
The typical EV charging point has 2 charging options – AC and CCS. The charging points at Tan Chong showrooms have an additional one – CHAdeMo.
The first 2 charging nozzles are the typical 8 hours ‘empty to full’ options and CHAdeMo, that comes from the word ‘Charge De Move’, which is the ‘rapid charge’ option best suits the me who is always in a hurry.
A typical fuel door release lever depicts a petrol dispensing machine with an electric plug head picture for identification. A press of that button opens the charging port to the front, and in that is an electric socket plug. With some help and minor adjustments to the settings on the EV charging station, the Leaf was on its way to a rapid fast charge.
I had to keep track of the charging times; it started at 12.23pm at 27% and after getting myself some coffee, I got back by 1.35pm to a 100% charge. It seems the Leaf stops charging once it reaches 100% but I did notice the remark on the EV station that charging is completed and with it, the kWh value and time it took to reach 100%.
Although, it would help if the Nissan Leaf could send a notification to let drivers know once the car is fully charged, since most people wouldn’t sit around to monitor it.
There are 3 visible blue LEDs on the dashboard and this denotes the battery level. When I started charging, only the leftmost light was lit. The middle LED started blinking during charging and all 3 were lit when charge was completed. Very much like a battery level indicator.
Charging an electric car as opposed to refuelling a conventional vehicle is a totally different feel. No smell of petrol, no need to inhale the exhaust fumes at the station. Very captivating indeed!
The travel range of the Leaf will limit you to driving within the city districts. Planning a travel distance of more than 250km will set you back unless due diligence is done to locate EV charging stations along the planned journey. This, I feel, is a major downside.
The Leaf may be a game changer to Nissan’s engagement in the EV market, being more than able to tackle the daily commute to and from the office and occasional run round. The Leaf gives the impression that there’s immense power on demand, and one thing is for sure, pulling away from the rest of the traffic on the highway brings back the joy of driving.