2020 Nissan Leaf Plus. Significantly Better

Nissan Leaf Plus: Overview

When it comes to electric cars, Tesla usually steals the show. For those with a more comprehensive analysis of the battery electric vehicles (BEV) market, the reality is a bit different. It is true that many big players, General Motors and Volkswagen in particular, have a strategy in place to dominate the BEV market within 5 to 10 years. And there are also big players, who have been consistently working to develop a portfolio of BEVs in the last decade or so. Renault-Nissan Alliance is one of them.

Renault-Nissan Alliance has been developing BEVs which are more affordable than a Tesla S or X, two expensive models actually triggered the BEV rush in the last decade.

Nissan Leaf is arguably the most important and first BEV for the masses. The first-generation Leaf had a range of 180 kilometres and leading to some range anxiety.
The 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus we tested recently has a range of 363 kilometres. This is a significant improvement over the first-generation Leaf.

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) awarded the 2020 LEAF® PLUS with the 2020 Canadian Green Car of the Year. AJAC’s awards are highly respected and are very prestigious for the winners.

Nissan Leaf is a well-engineered, well-designed car, though not a head-turner. Nissan Leaf is arguably the first all-electric vehicle built for the masses with a relatively affordable price. A compact hatchback with good functionality.

Nissan Leaf received the highest possible crash-test ratings across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  Our tester, the SL Plus model is well equipped. The list of standard advanced safety tech, including rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and intervention, high-beam assist, and a forward-collision warning is long and generous.

Engine and Powertrain

Nissan Leaf has a 62KwH battery and a 160 kW (215 horsepower) motor. It delivered 250 lb-ft of torque which is very good for a compact size family car.

An interesting feature is the so-called “e-pedal”. When activated, you can drive the car effectively with one pedal only. As soon as you pull your foot from the “gas” pedal, the car slows down immediately and brakes when you exceed a 15-percent threshold. It requires getting used to it and I would not recommend it to everybody. This feature improves the effectiveness of regenerative charging.

2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

Behind this “entry port are a 62KwH battery and a 160 kW (215 horsepower) motor. It delivers 250 lb-ft of torque which is powerful for a compact size family car.

Nissan Leaf Plus: Interior

The Nissan Leaf is a well-designed and built compact-class car.  A slightly high, yet comfortable seating position with good visibility and generous headroom is a noticeable plus. The well-designed dashboard delivers the most crucial information in a visually simple way. The 8-inch infotainment screen and its energy usage monitoring are practical. At the press of a button, you can extend the range by turning off heating or airconditioning. You can continuously monitor how the vehicle “consumes” electrons and moves forward.

2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

The configurable, digital dashboard is easy to use and read

The infotainment screen shows the energy usage in a simple and understandable way

The heat-pump system is designed to save electricity while heating the cabin. and allows you to switch-off to extend the range. Nissan says it is effective especially on cold, winter days. I tested it only once when it was cold and I confirm that it works well.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard and hence a big plus.

Nissan Leaf Plus: Driving Impressions

Tires with 16″ alloy wheels have low rolling resistance and driving on the snowy surface during our test drive proved to be a slight challenge.

On a very cold day in November, I discovered Downtown Toronto, especially the area around the main campus of the University of Toronto

BEV’s are fun to drive. Quick and linear acceleration is enjoyable. The instantly available torque delivered directly to the wheels without the mediation of transmission (no matter if a planetary gear set or a CVT) is a “feast”. The Leaf is not an exception. Especially you are not much worried about the range. However, you have to keep in mind that speed is the enemy of the range. This is especially true for a BEV for everyday use.

Nissan Leaf Plus: Range and Consumption

At the fast-charging station at Yorkdale Shopping Mall, I could “fuel” 83 kilometres of range in two hours.

Nissan says that the Leaf Plus has a 363 kilometre-range. This is a big improvement over the first-generation Leaf that had about 180 kilometres. Now, another problem is more apparent which is unique for most BEV’s. I planned a shopping stop at Yorkdale and parked the Leaf at the charging station. In exactly two hours at the fast charging station I “fuelled” 83 kilometres of additional range. When Dan, my colleague took over in the evening, he said he needed 24 hours for a full-charge from just 11 percent full battery. So, if you rely on your regular, 115V-outlet at home, charging becomes a real headache and probably impractical in many instances. Depending on your average mileage you may consider installing a fast-charger in your garage or driveway.

Federal incentives for Level 2 home charges are available in Canada. If you live in a condo in Downtown Toronto, you will probably think twice before deciding to buy a BEV. But, it would still work, if you can plan carefully. Remember also that routine maintenance of ICE vehicles, such as oil change does not apply to BEVs which is another cost advantage in the medium and long term.

Lack of widespread, supporting infrastructure of fast-charging stations is a problem in Canada and the USA, if not in the entire First World. The Canadian Government plans to invest 300 million dollars in BEV infrastructure in the next five years.

Pricing and Specifications

Nissan streamlined the pricing of the Leaf Plus. This is a fully-loaded vehicle and the only option is (costs 300C$) 3-coat-paint.

A price north of 50 grand is unusually high for a compact hatchback car. However, when it comes to BEV’s, the numbers speak differently and government incentives play a role.

Although Ontario shed its incentive for new cars, residents are eligible for a private incentive of $1,000 from Plug’n Drive for those who buy a used EV and another $1,000 for those who also dispose of their gas vehicle, said Cara Clairman, CEO of the group. The incentive was provided for more than 500 used cars purchased since April 2019.

For federal incentives for EV’s in Canada, please see the details of the so-called iZEV program,

please visit: https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/innovative-technologies/zero-emission-vehicles/list-eligible-vehicles-under-izev-program

Nissan Leaf is one of the qualifying vehicles.

For details and pricing, see the window sticker below:

Conclusion

In the case of my specific experience with the Leaf Plus, the charging time is more of a concern than the range itself.

In our opinion, Nissan Leaf Plus qualifies as a perfect choice as a BEV provided you have good access to the existing, still poor infrastructure and live in an urban area. Like most BEV for now, it is better suited to the role of the second vehicle at the family. with smarter planning and thinking in advance, the Leaf could be your only vehicle too.

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, please visit http://www.nissan.ca

Article and Photos by Varol McKars