Nissan Leaf long-term review

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Overzealous driving aids are starting to get bleeping annoying – 31st October 2018

The Leaf’s indicated range with a fully charged battery has begun to drop as the weather has cooled down, as is the case with most electric cars. During the summer, I’d normally expect to see between 160 and 170 miles showing on the instrument display, but recently it’s been down to around 145 miles.

That still leaves me able to cover plenty of miles between recharges, so I’m not overly concerned, as long as the indicated figure doesn’t drop much more. However, I’ve found myself looking enviously at the claimed 300-mile and real-world 260-mile ranges of the new Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh and thinking how much more convenient that would be…

Even with what suddenly seems like a fairly mediocre range in comparison with the Kona’s, the Leaf continues to be an ideal car for urban use, mainly thanks to its plush ride and spacious interior, both of which are much better than you’ll find in existing rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Much as I like the way the car drives, though, I’m noticing more and more things about the Leaf that irritate me to some degree, taking the gloss off what would otherwise be a very satisfying ownership experience. And quite a lot of the blame lies with the car’s many electronic driver aids, which don’t seem very well adapted to life on London’s ridiculously narrow, twisty and overcrowded streets.

The automatic emergency braking, while being a highly commendable safety feature, is prone to intervening far too often for my liking and in situations that seem completely safe to me. For example, it happens randomly as I’m driving up to the barrier to get out of our multi-storey car park, going at snail’s pace and doing nothing differently from any other day. The AEB also reacts if you go for a gap that it deems too narrow, as well as to pedestrians and parked cars if they’re in front of you as you go around a bend in the road. It’s not only frustrating but also makes me feel as though I’m not fully in control of the car.

Then there are the parking sensors. When the battery pack isn’t being recharged, I have a habit of parking in a quiet corner of our car park, with the lefthand side of the car up against a wall, and the parking aids are obviously convenient as I’m backing into the space.

The problem is that they aren’t smart enough to know when they’re no longer needed. Jump back into the car later and the side and rear sensors start screaming again the instant the gear selector is put into Drive, forcing me to hit the ‘off’ button every time. The same is true if I’m driving down a narrow road with parked cars at the sides. Previous cars I’ve run, such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, had much less presumptuous sensors than the Leaf’s.

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