The world’s most popular fully electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, gets a redesign for 2018. A much needed one, since the affordable EV ran into some heavy competition with the arrival of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the upcoming 2018 Tesla Model 3 EV. Both of these vehicles try to compete in the same affordable EV segment as the 2018 Nissan Leaf resides in. These other cars sport cutting edge designs, the latest tech and safety tricks and most importantly, they have the widest electric range you can currently find out there in this price range. So, there was no excuse for Nissan to come up with a merely mediocre follow-up for their electric Leaf; they were forced to renew in all possible fields.
We love a good showdown and hope you will join us in finding out how much better the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be than the first generation predecessor from 2011.
The face of the car is much different from what it used to be. Completely new headlights and a new, more angular lay-out update that part of the exterior nicely. The quirky frog eyes from the Leaf’s predecessor seem to be left in the past.
Then, the grille is more like other recent Nissan models such as the 2017 Nissan Rogue, a large V-shaped one. The grille pattern, however, is a very distinguished dark blue 3D crystal type, and is a first on any Nissan model. We expect it to be reserved for the Leaf only, to make it stand out from the basic gasoline and diesel models. The black insert underneath the grille is questionable and does not add any significant aesthetic quality to the fascia.
Daytime Running Lights are included in small, angular cut-outs in the modest bumper. The hood of the car is quite bulgy and a firm goodbye to the Leaf’s predecessor.
2018 Nissan Leaf side and rear
The side of the Leaf confirms our suspicion that the somewhat frivolous design of the last Leaf will not return. The 2018 Nissan Leaf looks like a regular hatchback, but also looks much more spacious. The roof ends in a smooth tip and the tail lights already say hello, whilst having a successful jostling around with the side creases.
The very best part of this sleek profile is that it is also much more aerodynamic than the previous Leaf, something that comes in very handy in an EV.
The rear of the car has also been toned down quite a bit. Gone are the vertical taillights, instead we find some boomerang-shaped units that wrap around to the side. The outline of the rear window is black and contrasts with the body colour, unless that is also black. The lower bumper looks far more modern and sporty than the previous one, a great step forwards designwise.
The bubbly interior of the 2011 Leaf has been ditched as well. The wobbly-looking dashboard made way for an exceptionally straight one, and the cute steering wheel is now a sporty, sturdy unit with an excess of buttons on it. The shifting button is much the same and the center stack has also been conventionalized. All in all, the cabin may look a lot calmer (and better), but we feel like some of the Leaf’s personality has been left behind as well.
The center stack is quite clean, with a nice chrome outline on the infotainment screen. Behind the steering wheel there’s another screen for driving statistics. The material finish on the chairs, panels and dashboard looks decent and not cheap at all.
Electric motor specs
The most important feature of an EV nowadays is the battery and its range. Especially when there are two direct competitors who have an exceptional electric range, according to the current standards.
Let’s divulge the details on the 2018 Nissan Leaf range right away: it can make 150 miles (240 km) on a single charge. Although this is not as groundbreaking as the 200-something range of the Tesla Model 3, it is in fact a 40% increase over the current Leaf model. Furthermore, the electric motor now comes at 147 horsepower, 40 more than the current Leaf and the battery is a 40 kWh one, which is 10 kWh over the last Leaf. In comparison, the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt has a 60 kWh battery and the 2018 Tesla Model 3 comes with either a 50 kWh or 75 kWh battery.
Nissan noted these differences as well and they already disclosed that the 2019 Leaf will have a power-up in all areas: battery, hp and range. Therefore, the 2019 Nissan Leaf will be a little more expensive than the 2018 Nissan Leaf.
Charging time is sixteen hours with a 3 kW power socket and eight hours with a 6 kW one.
New on the 2018 Nissan Leaf is the e-Pedal system, which makes it possible for the driver to only use one pedal throughout the whole drive. The e-Pedal makes calculations of its own and can sense if the driver wishes to accelerate or brake and then acts accordingly. For the driver that is still a bit wary of this technology, of course a regular braking pedal is present as well.
The e-Pedal system is naturally a piece of brand new technology, since it uses software to determine what the driver means when pushing the pedal. Besides the e-Pedal, the 2018 Nissan Leaf comes with an infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the customer will need to opt for a higher trim that comes with the navigation system to be able to use these features.
A driver assistance feature is the ProPilot Assist, which, when switched on, automatically controls the vehicle. This means it can keep the distance to the vehicle in front when driving at a speed between 18 and 62 mph (29 and 100 kph), but it can also automatically steer to stay in the lane and brake when the car in front brakes. An interesting feature that can increase traffic safety and decrease driving stress.
Price & sale date
Despite all the innovative new features of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the starting price has actually gone down a bit, now starting at $29,990. The Leaf SV has a starting price of $32,490 and the highest trim Leaf SL starts at $36,200. All in all, these are quite friendly prices and the Leaf surely beats the Bolt and Model 3 in this area.
For Europe, different prices are held in different countries. The starting price for the standard Leaf in Germany will be €31,950. This means that across the pond and in terms of finance, the 2018 Nissan Leaf will beat the 2018 Opel Ampera-e and the 2018 Tesla Model 3 also.
The 2018 Nissan Leaf will be delivered at the start of 2018 in the American and European markets. The Japanese market will be the first to receive the car in October this year.