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2020 Nissan Leaf electric car long-term review

By Tom Fraser, 01 Sep 2020 Car Reviews

2020 nissan leaf

What’s it like to own an electric car? Join along as we find out with the 2020 Nissan Leaf

Update #1

Date: September 1, 2020
ODO: 3165km
Km driven: N/A
Fuel consumption: 16kWh/100km

Make no mistake: electric cars will dominate the Australian car park in years to come. But they sure are taking their time to become commonplace.

It’s not the manufacturers’ fault that take-up has been so slow - they’re pumping out more electric-powered cars than ever.

But the snail’s pace at which Australia has been willing to dip its toe into the technology has had knock-on effects for the industry that is ready and willing to come Down Under.

Plenty of people know about electric cars now, but the hands-on experience for the general public hasn’t come as it has in other markets overseas. 

Read next: Nissan Leaf: Before the Bandwagon

You’d think as automotive writers we’d be all over the latest tech, but even I have only had brief jaunts in EVs. A couple runs here and there in some Teslas, a comparison or two of some of the front-runners is about the extent of my hands-on experience with electric power. 

So it’s about time for both you and I to learn what it’s like to live with an electric car. I’ve picked up a Nissan Leaf that’ll grace the driveway – or maybe even the office carpark if we’re lucky – until the end of the year.

It’s the second-generation Leaf which was launched mid-2019 and costs $49,990 before on-road costs.

It’s a big ask for a small Nissan hatch, but Nissan has tried its best to throw in some add-ons to help ease the pain. 

Read: How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

It only comes in the one specification which is simply called the Leaf 40kWh. Its electric motor sends 110kW/320Nm to the front wheels courtesy of the charge drawn from the 40kWh battery and Nissan says it has 270 kilometres of range before it’ll conk out. 

That range figure puts it ahead of rivals like the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Mini Cooper SE which both run roughly 230km on a charge, but I’m really keen to see if Nissan’s figure holds true. 

I have the ability to charge it at home, though a quick Google search has revealed a type 2 charger is only a kilometre from my place.

That will mean a shorter 7.5-hour charge to full capacity, rather than a 24-hour one as drawn from a standard 240-volt home power outlet.

Standard fare includes LED headlights, heated front and rear seats, privacy glass, power folding mirrors, Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity, satellite navigation, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree parking camera. 

Read next: Nissan Leaf vs Hyundai Ioniq comparison review

Nissan has thrown its suite of Propilot semi-autonomous safety tech features at the Leaf which brings autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and as mentioned, a 360-degree camera and active cruise control. 

Our car is finished in platinum metallic ($950) and sadly misses out on the cool two-tone black roof which costs an extra $990.

There remains an elephant in the room – I’ve only just taken delivery of the Leaf and I’m in lockdown-stricken Melbourne.

For the time being, trips are only going to local and uneventful, but hopefully, as Melbourne pulls itself out of a rut, I’ll be able to venture further.

Read: Nissan Leaf pricing and features

That said, I’m pretty excited to give it a go over the next few months. I’m particularly interested in learning more about charging infrastructure and whether it can take the place of an internal combustion-engined car in my life.

While this is just a brief introduction for now, stay tuned to find out how I've managed with the Leaf in the next update.