I can easily say the best car I’ve ever driven is the Nissan Leaf 2018. I’ve driven lots of mostly average cars and a few good ones. The Nissan Leaf 2018 is leaps and bounds better than the Mercedes 320e I owned a few years back. That was a top of the range car and over 15 years ago so it’s not surprising that I even preferred my Renault Clio over the Mercedes. The motor manufacturers keep adding more and much improved technology to all of the cars. It is a trickle-down thing where tech only found in the hugely expensive cars previously is finding itself in more affordable cars. In my search for the best electric car to buy right now, the Nissan Leaf 2018 is at the top of my list.
Adapting to electric vehicle technology
Obviously the thing that makes it the best electric car is the fact that it is fully electric. I didn’t want a hybrid car as that’s just a halfway stage. Cars of the future will be all electric. There’ll be no need for petrol/gas powered cars. We’ll have the combination of sufficient range and more than adequate infrastructure for the transport of the future. Some people I talk to who don’t own electric cars believe the infrastructure is not quite there yet. On account of them not having proper experience of driving and owning an electric car they are only partly right. For most people a fully electric car is all you’ll need. There are some edge cases where an electric car would be a bad choice. For the majority an electric car is a perfect choice for 99% of the time. There are maybe two journeys per year when a gasoline powered car might be better. I know that I’m prepared to change my driving style and habits for the rare occasions when I need to stretch the capabilities of my electric car. I’d rather drive my Leaf than swap to an ICE car. Mostly this involves being prepared to allow extra time for charging during a long distance drive. It also might mean more planning and possibly changing the preferred route. It’s not really a problem, whenever you go on a long drive you have to do some route planning anyway. It’s just a case that with an electric car it will be a slightly different plan. It’s only because the chargers tend to be not at petrol stations. As an electric car driver you’re going to be more interested in efficient use of energy. It’s highly likely you’ll be prepared to drive at a slower speed to get better fuel economy. I used to do that with my Suzuki motorbike as I found by keeping the speed below 70 miles an hour there was a huge difference with the amount of petrol it consumed. Driving economically is not really a new concept.
What’s so good about the 2018 Nissan Leaf?
- You don’t have to visit smelly petrol stations.
- Running costs of the Nissan Leaf are extremely low. Very little maintenance required.
- E pedal, one pedal driving is fantastic. Hardly any need to touch the brakes.
- Pro Pilot Assist gives drivers a relaxing drive.
- Loads of safety features such as front crash collision warning and blindspot warnings in the mirrors.
- Cross traffic alert at the rear. Really good for when pulling out of parking spaces and you can’t see what’s coming.
- Pedestrian alerts just in case someone is walking in front of the car and you don’t see them quickly enough.
- Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
- Good visibility all round due to a high seating position.
- Front and rear cameras with proximity sensors and alerts.
- Plenty of leg room for rear passengers even behind a driver with long legs.
- For me it is the best electric car for the money. Good Value.
What it feels like being an EV driver
With it being so silent when driving the Nissan Leaf it seems awful and quite strange putting up with the noise from other vehicles. I work at a campsite and I really notice now the loud diesels in the campervans are. As they drive past, apart from the noise I also notice the smell. It really isn’t very nice getting a whiff of the noxious fumes coming from the internal combustion engine vehicles.
The last time I went to fill up my Renault Clio I also found the smell of the petrol to be quite offensive. I’m delighted I won’t have to be doing that hardly ever again. The only time I may have to do that is if I have to drive my wife’s car for some odd reason. Or maybe if I am given a courtesy car by the dealership if my car is in for a service. It’s also pretty cool to know my car won’t need much in the way of servicing. I do have to take the car in for one day in the workshop later this month to have a radar sensor replaced. This is a known problem with the new Nissan Leaf. A number of new owners have seen messages coming up saying the Pro Pilot Assist is not working due to a blocked sensor. When you’ve got used to using Pro Pilot Assist, when you don’t have it you really miss it. Mine is working intermittently and starts playing up after I have driven about 50 km.
There’s lots to love with the safety features in the Nissan Leaf
The sensors at the front and the rear of the car are not just for when parking. They also tell you if you are on a collision course with a vehicle in front. A big warning triangle comes up in the screen in the dash behind the steering wheel. The system will also apply the brakes if it believes it’s necessary. With both the visual and audible warning you’ll also be reaching for the brake pedal with your right foot. I suspect the safety system in the car will probably react faster than you do. Something you expect in the best electric car.
On my way home there is an on-ramp to the main road which is quite short and has a blind spot as you want to pull into the traffic coming through. The blindspot warning is incredibly useful to save you pulling out into another vehicle. Another super feature of the car is the incredible acceleration. This comes into play when pulling into this traffic and getting up to the same speed as the cars in the flow. I love it when I get that burst of acceleration and my eyeballs want to migrate to the back of my head.
Driving position and comfort 2018 Nissan Leaf
One of the first things I noticed when taking my first test drive was the high up seating position. It’s almost as if you are driving a van or an SUV. There’s excellent views all around to the front and to the rear from the drivers seat. I have the Tekna version of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The seats are firmer and more solid than cloth seats. They are still quite comfortable, although I suspect they will get more comfortable as they wear in over the years.
I’m not a tall person about 1.8m, but I do like to stretch my legs out when I’m driving. In my previous car this left no room for a passenger behind me. I would have to move the seat a notch or two forward and change the incline of the seatback to leave space behind. This was only good for short journeys as it would make me feel a little bit cramped. At least the passenger behind didn’t have to cut their legs off. In the new Nissan Leaf there is plenty of room behind me for passengers. When I first looked at the best electric car in the showroom, it seemed there wasn’t much room to put your feet underneath the seat in front. In my car this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve sat in the rear passenger seat and I found it to be quite comfortable. I had room to put my toes underneath the driver’s seat. The person sitting in the middle of the Nissan Leaf will feel a little bit cramped though.
One of my favourite things – Apple Carplay
I was disappointed not to have Apple Carplay in my Renault Clio. I see in the Renault Zoe, even in later versions they still don’t have Apple Carplay. There’s no way I would go back to using Android again, so not having Carplay is a deal breaker for me. I didn’t even bother looking at the Zoe. Another reason for choosing the Nissan Leaf as my best electric car.
With Apple Carplay I get immediate access to my music. If I’m listening to a podcast using my preferred pod catcher, when I plug in to the car it will start playing what I was listening to before. Apple Carplay is really good for sending messages either using WhatsApp or with the Apple messaging application. The system will allow me to do this without having to press buttons or spend time looking at the screen. I do need to press the home button to bring up Siri and I can do that without taking my eyes off the road. Siri will read back the dictated message and I give the go-ahead to send if it’s correct. With the drive in the electric Nissan Leaf being so silent I don’t have to worry about engine noise affecting the ability of Siri to hear what I’m saying. If a new message comes in I can get Siri to read the message to me. I’m happy with the way it all works in the best electric car, in my opinion.
Waze is much better than using Apple Maps
When iOS 12 becomes available later in the year I’ll also be able to use Waze as my mapping application. I like using Waze because it is more of a drivers application rather than simply being a maps application. It’s much better than using Apple Maps. In my previous car I occasionally used Google maps when I needed to go somewhere and get instructions along the way. Waze is good for seeing real-time traffic information such as accidents up ahead. When using it recently I noticed it has given instructions to change the route due to traffic jams on my chosen route. That’s kind of cool!
Driving using just one pedal – Using E–pedal in the Nissan Leaf
With the electric car not having any gears it’s already easier driving than using a car with a manual gear change. I always liked having an automatic car and the electric car goes one stage further. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is further improved with the addition of the E Pedal which truly gives you one pedal driving. You don’t have to touch the brakes at all, It’s easy to gauge how much you need to lift your foot off the accelerator pedal in order to stop or slow down as required. It does perhaps seem a little strange at first, but once you get used to it, you love it.
E-Pedal in the Best Electric Car
E-Pedal works just the same when you are driving on an incline either going up or going down. Taking your foot off the accelerator will bring you to a halt and you still don’t need to touch the brake pedal to hold still. There’s no need to put on the handbrake. The car will hold its position until you start moving again using the accelerator pedal. In some ways it’s a little bit like driving a dodgem car as you might find in a fairground. The 2018 Nissan Leaf, my best electric car, is just a little bit more sophisticated! Some drivers of the new Nissan Leaf have noted that when driving roads with bends and curves you can have plenty of fun as you drive. You can concentrate on the steering and getting the power back on after using the regenerative breaking going into the curve.
Taking longer trips with the 2018 Nissan Leaf
It’s often fun to go on a road trip and part of it is the planning. With an electric car you need to charge from time to time so you do have to make a plan. The range of the 40 kWh Nissan Leaf is between 240 and 270 km. You will want to arrive at your destination with about 10% to 20% left in your battery. This means the first leg of your journey after you start with 100% in the battery when leaving home you’ll drive about 200 km. For many people this is further than their bladder range. It’s not a big deal to stop and take a break after a couple of hours of driving. The amount of time you need to recharge the battery of the vehicle will depend upon the charging point. If you use a fast charger you can expect to spend 40 minutes or so charging from your 20% you have left back up to about 80 or 90%. This will then give you another driving range for your vehicle of about 160 km. At this stage I’m starting to think I’ve driven enough for the day. If I needed to keep on driving though it would be good to take a longer break while putting in another batch of electrons. With another charge you have another 160km to play with, so we are up to about 500km for the day. That is definitely time for an overnight break. Driving the 2018 Nissan Leaf with the 40 kWh battery is a good solution to electric transport. You could spend more for a car with a bigger battery but do you really need to? Not everyone needs or can afford a Tesla or a Jaguar IPace.