You know a car might not necessarily be the most Car Throttle sort of car in the world when the opening line of the press release emphasises driver assistance systems that provide a ‘safer, more comfortable’ drive. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the all-new Nissan Leaf.
Rejoice, for the tiresome act of moving one’s foot from the accelerator pedal to the brake and back again can now be a thing of the past. By simply pressing the ‘e-Pedal’ button the driver can accelerate, brake, come to a stop and hold that position indefinitely using just one pedal. We’ve mentioned this before, but feel free to reapply plenty of palm to your face.
The technology has been proven, says the car’s chief engineer in Japan, to make driving ‘enjoyable’, and with that in mind you can’t help but assume that the Leaf engineers don’t sit at the same table as the GT-R team during lunch breaks.
There’s a suite of driver assists bundled together to provide a semi-autonomous mode called ProPilot. It will control speed and assist with steering and lane-centring, being able to bring the car to a total stop. It can’t make overtakes on multi-lane roads, but in fairness most Leafs tend to be driven quite slowly anyway…
There’s something called Intelligent Lane Intervention, though, along with Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection and – saving the best until last – Emergency Assist for Pedal Misapplication. We’re not kidding; that really is what it’s called.
Essentially, the Leaf looks to be a car designed principally for people who possibly shouldn’t be trusted to take the wheel at all, like the elderly and/or senile. It might seem like we’re being mean, but what other conclusions can we draw? Even the car assumes its owners can’t necessarily tell one pedal from the other…
On the other hand, there’s 38 per cent more power and 26 per cent more torque to produce a 2.0-litre diesel-esque 148bhp and 236lb ft. Nissan’s throttle and motor tuning will limit maximum torque away from the traffic lights, to avoid wheelspin and other un-Leafy behaviour, but it should be pretty punchy from, say, 10mph to about 40mph.
As for driving range, Nissan thinks a NEDC test cycle range of 235 miles per charge is possible. Assume more like 150 miles for the real world and you’ll probably be close, but it’s still an impressive improvement over the old one. An interesting development is that this Leaf is fully prepared for a Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) electricity model, whereby owners can see their cars feed power back into the grid at peak times – and earn money for it. It could also power essential home electrical systems at the owner’s address, via the wall charging unit.
It’s said that some kind of V2G model will be essential for a society that depends on electric cars, but earning money from sending some of your car’s power back to its maker has its obvious flaws, like the fact that you then have to spend that money on charging it back up again, but let’s wait and see how the finer details pan out.