Arriving in February, the LEAF 2 was one of the most eagerly awaited EVs of the year in its range, that of an urban mid-size vehicle. With a range of 378 km NEDC, the LEAF delivers without flinching and with the right driving style around 280 km of real-world driving. The 40 kWh battery is therefore well optimised and, to achieve this result, the LEAF 2 offers ECO mode driving which limits acceleration and acceleration. Useful? In town, yes, with the added benefit of smoother driving. On the road, no, because the potential for overtaking or passing at 130 km/h is too low.
The ePedal: the really good idea
In the field of good ideas, the ePedal is the obvious choice. We have already mentioned it in these columns. The reality is even better than expected: when the foot is lifted from the accelerator, the LEAF switches to regenerative braking (like most EVs) but adds real, progressive braking. In the end, in the city, the use of the brake pedal becomes almost completely superfluous. Put your foot on the accelerator and the LEAF moves forward. Raise your foot, it brakes. Simple but incredibly effective.
On the control side, there’s a lot of them. Sometimes too many. On the steering wheel alone, there are 10 controls on the left, 9 on the right, for a total of 19 controls. Those that operate controls that are also accessible via the central screen could have been eliminated in favour of more intuitive ergonomics.
The screen, by the way, sometimes turns out to be too small. We would have liked more space for better readability. As it is, it is perfectly complete but is full of information. Last but not least, the needle tachometer. Anachronistic? In a car with that kind of on-board intelligence, yes. We would have liked a larger digital area to make it clearer again. It’s certainly flattering at first contact to have a 747 display in front of you, but once you get the hang of it, the only information you like to have in front of you at all times is simple: speed, fuel consumption, range and, if applicable, the GPS. Nothing less but nothing more either.
GPS and parking: objective achieved
The GPS is particularly noteworthy. Precise, clear, intuitive, it is displayed efficiently in front of the driver, doubled by a clear voice command. A very good point that even high-end sedans don’t always achieve. The same goes for the in-car camera system. They deliver an exemplary clarity of parking assistance, allowing multiple angles to be chosen to adjust parking to the pavement and obstacles. We almost wish, once again, that the central screen had been larger to take full advantage of it.
In terms of help and sensors, the blind spot detector is also appreciated. If the driver engages a passing manoeuvre without having seen a vehicle in his blind spot, LEAF will indicate this without fail. Valuable and devilishly effective, especially for two-wheelers that blend into the blind spot quite easily. On the other hand, the Pro PILOT is equipped with power steering (optional): adaptive cruise control is effective, but autonomous driving is still hesitant and the driver is reminded too often (hands on the wheel) compared to standards already developed by other brands. To be tested in a dealership during a trial run before committing yourself for an extra 1,000 euros, or to be reserved for traffic jams only.
Approval: well up to scratch
The driver’s cab and passenger seats offer remarkable comfort. The seating is excellent, and there is plenty of room for large passengers. The level of finish is also excellent. The LEAF offers only quality materials, perfectly finished and assembled, with a level of detail rarely found in this level of the range and which, once again, has nothing to envy from much more expensive sedans. We simply note a heated backrest system that is activated by a switch…on the backrest itself! A rather incongruous choice, it would have been much simpler to combine it with the seat heating control located on the dashboard.
Finally, there are plenty of storage spaces, even if of modest capacity. Contrary to popular belief, this is a good thing: the days when you put away your road maps and atlases are over. The LEAF offers enough space for two phones near the USB port, but also for sunglasses, a wallet and bottles for the road.
The trunk also offers a very respectable volume, even if you leave the cables supplied permanently in it: charging cable to a domestic socket, 6 metres, charging in 21 hours; to a 32A socket, also 6 metres, charging in 7 hours. The programmable charging system is also appreciated: ideal for charging the LEAF on your electricity subscription during off-peak hours.
To try it is to adopt it.
In the end, the new LEAF largely fulfils its promises. The central screen is a little small and the controls are abundant and ergonomically perfectible. The driving options are sometimes confusing and too much customization is required.
On the other hand, the autonomy is excellent and the battery perfectly managed. The level of finish and comfort is irreproachable. The onboard cameras are remarkably efficient and we recommend that they be taken as an option, as well as for automatic parking. Design and look are sharp, modern. With four levels of range, including a first level at 28,000 euros, the LEAF offers an excellent urban position with all the comfort needed to swallow up the road with complete peace of mind. There was a place to be taken between the mini city car and the large saloon, and the LEAF took it.