First Drive: 2019 Nissan Leaf EV

By thoriq, 26 July 2019
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf

So what’s new?
In short, everything. As reported, there’s more tech, features and capabilities. Core of which is the e-motor and power reserve, which have been beefed up significantly.

Unfortunately, neat features seen in overseas-spec versions are absent, namely the fancy Apple CarPlay-equipped touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate controls, premium Bose hi-fi, and several intelligent bits.

Nevertheless, this local-spec Leaf still packs a decent package. There’s a 5.5-inch infotainment unit offering 360-degree parking view, albeit a low-res one, plush leather seats, as well as enhanced safety through forward collision warning, autonomous city braking and attention alert.

Space in rear seats is a tad bit scarce if you’re the tall, lanky type; but we’ve seen worst. The biggest foul cry here lie in the rather low quality plastic trims, which doesn’t reflect well towards the Leaf’s hefty price tag.

How does it drive?
Like its predecessor, this new one feels charged as ever, perhaps nearly twice as much. Having a punchy 320Nm of twist available in a snap means just about every other car will eat its silent dust in the first 100 metres when floored off the line.

The novel new e-Pedal feature does need some getting used to. When switched on, you’ll only need to use the accelerator pedal to move and stop. However, be cautioned at the fact that this is best suited for city driving only, and for good reasons.

Firstly, to deactivate it, you’ll need to apply full pressure on the brake pedal, which means coming to a full stop. Secondly, when pedal pressure is relieved, even at the slightest, it will trigger the brake lights and strong regenerative braking resistance.

In short, you can’t coast in e-Pedal mode, or even in B, Eco or B-Eco drive modes. Nevertheless, there are other things to worry about, which we will get to shortly.

2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf

Apart from this, the Leaf drives just as how any similar-sized hatch would, only peppier, and much, much quieter. The ride is supple, but we reckon the dampers can be softened further – perhaps the result of those snazzy but large 17-inch alloys?

For an eco-car though, there’s still some fun and excitement plus a respectable level of comfort in store, so as long as you’ve got a full charge that is.

Will range be a problem?
Nissan’s claimed maximum range of 311km (NEDC) is impressive indeed, but our climate’s toll on the batteries is one of a few reasons why real world figures won’t match up.

Adopt the right driving style and at least 250km of city-only driving is a safe bet. On the highway, the stresses the e-powertrain undergoes to sustain high speeds, even when cruising at constant using the passive cruise control unit equipped, also led to our doubts at the Leaf’s ability to break the 250-kilometre mark here.

Nevertheless, plan a journey right and a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca is possible. The presence of two fast chargers along the way should help too – one at Nichicon (M) Sdn Bhd, Bandar Baru Bangi, the at the Ayer Keroh R&R (Soutbound).


For an eco-car though, there’s still some fun and excitement plus a respectable level of comfort in store, so as long as you’ve got a full charge that is.

…And charging?
The Leaf is limited firstly by the need for its 6.6kW Type-1 Wall Box Charger that you can have installed at home.Access to the same chargers at 17 selected Nissan dealerships nationwide is free, provided you have 7 hours to spare that is.

2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf

Want to quicken things? You’ll need to locate the handful of the aforementioned fast chargers – called CHAdeMO –present in our country, which can fully recharge the Leaf in 60 minutes thanks to its 50kWh charging rate.

Want to use the open charging bays that BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Volvo has? Sorry, you can’t. These are Type-2 chargers, making the Leaf and its Type-1 input incompatible. Nissan says an adaptor is in the works, but this will take time.

Interestingly, local Nissan vanguards Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd (ETCM) aren’t too worried about this, and we reckon one special perk they’ve prepared for prospecting Leaf owners is fuelling their confidence.

What is this special ‘perk’ then?
In the first three years of ownership, Leaf owners can switch to a temporary courtesy car for up to 23 days annually. The choices here include the refreshed X-Trail crossover, the Navarra pick-up truck and the Serena S-Hybrid MPV.

Aptly, this remedies some of the Leaf’s limitation to some degree. It also looks like you’re getting access to three more cars for the price of one.

Too expensive to buy? 'Subscribe’ instead!
At RM188,888 sans insurance and registration, the new Leaf is no bargain indeed.

Alternatively, ETCM’s has a novel new ‘subscription’ program that lets you ‘subscribe’ (Read: Lease) the Leaf for 3 years for RM3,500 per month (sans insurance).

You’ll save over RM60,000 instead of buying it outright, but would you? We reckon ETCM showroom staff will be hard pressed in convincing any average car buyer to go for either, but the discerning fan of EVs would be more keen instead.

Verdict: 7/10
Fun, electrified drive is guilt-free. Cabin quality and features count are a let down though. Limited range only adds to that, perhaps needing that critical Type-2 to Type-1 charging compatibility as a remedy.


Specs: 2019 Nissan Leaf


(excluding insurance and registration)

POWER 110kW (approx. 150bhp)
0-100KPH 7.9 secs
V-MAX 155kph (restricted)
WEIGHT 1,544kg (kerb)

40kWh Lithium Ion
with 6.6kWh Wall Box Charger (7 hours)