The Nissan Leaf – the world’s best-selling electric car – will power up like Pac-Man for its second-generation. A bigger capacity battery will boost range, power and torque increase, and there’ll be a suite of autonomous features and a distinctive one pedal driving experience, all wrapped in a much edgier design.
The Mk2 Leaf will be unveiled in Tokyo on 6 September, and we’ve pulled together all the info so far that’s in the public domain.
The leaks: spec and design
The intrigue about the Mk2 Leaf is being stripped away by a series of leaks and official teasers. Powertrain details were briefly revealed on US automotive marketing platform Autobytel, suggesting the electric motor’s peak power will jump from 109 to 145bhp+, with peak torque climbing from 187 to 236lb ft. The motor will continue to spin the front wheels via a single speed transmission.
Battery pack capacity climbs from 30kWh to 40kWh, although that critical yardstick – range – is still secret. Today’s UK Leaf has a 155-mile range: will the Mk2 be able to pass 200 miles on a single charge, a feat managed by the Chevrolet Bolt with its 60kWh pack, and claimed by Tesla’s 50kWh Model 3? The other details revealed in the Autobytel leak were US list prices, starting at $29,990.
The hatch is only a few millimetres longer than the outgoing car, with the wheelbase remaining at 2700mm: no need for it to grow, with the floor-mounted batteries freeing up plenty of cockpit space. But blurry leaks of cars parked at Nissan’s Oppama plant show the more modernist design hinted at in the official sketch. The U-shaped corporate grille from internal combustion engine Nissans is grafted on, and the teardrop glasshouse can be crowned in a secondary paint hue.
A one-pedal driving experience
‘The new Leaf will be a focal point of 2018,’ Nissan UK managing director Alex Smith told CAR. ‘It’s an EV, and it embodies everything we’re hugely focused on.’ Not only does that mean the electrification of the Nissan fleet, but autonomous driving – an area where Nissan is striving to be the leading mainstream car maker.
The new Leaf will be equipped with Nissan ProPilot Park, where the EV can park itself in parallel, perpendicular or slanted bays, driving forwards or reversing. It will also get autonomous highway capabilities, dubbed ProPilot I, such as cruising in lane between 18 and 62mph, and potentially ProPilot II – automated motorway overtaking at the flick of an indicator.
ProPilot I is due on the facelifted Qashqai, but wasn’t available for the crossover’s commercial launch this summer. Smith says it’s in the pipeline, but necessitates fine-tuning for European roads and right-hand drive. ‘When we’re introducing tech, it’s properly tested. We don’t test on consumers but before it reaches them.’
Smith has driven the Mk2 Leaf, on a fact-finding mission in Japan. He was particularly fired up by its e-Pedal (see the video above and illustration below), which aims to bring new capabilities to an EV’s one-pedal driving style. Expect the accelerator to be more responsive than the electric car norm, precisely moderating speed according to driver pressure and bringing the car to a halt if you lift off entirely. It will automatically activate a hold function on hills. Nissan claims the e-Pedal will be able to cover 90% of a driver’s needs – although the friction brakes back-up is present and correct.
New Nissan Leaf: what to expect
Lurking under the black-and-white swirls of the disguise is a five-door hatchback influenced by the IDS concept of 2015, and a little bit of new Micra in its detailing. Sharp edges and creases are in; soft, jelly-mould soap-bar curves are out.
This was hinted at by a teaser photo shown in a recent tweet from the Nissan Electric Twitter account.
View image on Twitter
We hear a choice of battery packs will be offered, just like in the Tesla electric car range; the highest capacity is said to be rated at 60kWh (double that in the rangiest Leaf) and it will be compatible with the latest high-speed charging stations.
Range? Word is it should be nearly double today’s Nissan Leaf, with the ability to drive around 200 miles between top-ups in the real world.
The Leaf's cabin is dominated by a widescreen display, a digital instrument pack and an evolution of the round gearlever from today's model. This official teaser photo reveals how the car will get ProPilot, semi-autonomous tech, allowing the car to drive in stop-start, urban environments.