The New Nissan Leaf Is A Huge Improvement On The Original

Nissan's affordable electric car has a brand new model for 2018, and it looks pretty tempting. A larger battery, autonomous highway driving and a single pedal for start-stop driving headline an EV that's much, much improved from the first Leaf -- even its most recent upgrade.

The 2018 Leaf's 40kWh battery is a pretty gutsy boost -- in the same storage space -- as the original 24kWh and 30kWh options of the last-gen version, and Nissan quotes 400km of range on the (extremely generous to small EVs) Japanese JC08 driving cycle; Aussie EPA range is likely to be around the 240km mark. That electrical go-juice is channelled through the Leaf's new 110kW/320Nm electric motor.

There's ProPILOT autonomous highway driving -- lane-keeping, acceleration and braking -- and autonomous parallel parking from start to finish. Nissan's also adopted a Tesla-esque 'e-Pedal' accelerator, which accelerates normally when pressure is applied, but when you lift off -- just like Tesla's own EVs -- the Leaf's regenerative braking and friction brakes will kick in to slow the car to a complete stop, including when on hills.

You'll be able to charge that battery from its alert level to 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes on a quick charger, while standard wall charging (3kw) will take a full 16 hours and 8 hours on a three-phase (6kW) installation. No 0-100km/h figures are available but based on the improvements from the original, the circa-1500kg Leaf should handle the sprint in a not-too-terrible sub-10 seconds.

The car will go on sale in early 2018 in Canada, the US and Europe, and on sale in early October in Japan -- no word on Australian release dates or pricing just yet. A direct conversion of its JPY3,150,360 pricing translates to around $36,000 -- so expect to see it squarely in the "affordable electric car" bracket. There will also be a longer range, higher power version on the way later in 2018. [Nissan]