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An Ioniq owner drives the LEAF for a week

Nissan Australia kindly let me borrow a brand new LEAF for a week to drive around however I wish. There’s plenty of other reviews of the LEAF on the internet, so I won’t go over well covered territory like specs, cargo area and the basics of EV driving. However, as a Hyundai Ioniq owner who was desperately waiting for either the LEAF or the Ioniq to launch in Australia before buying his first EV (Hyundai got in first!), I thought it would be interesting to others deciding between the Ioniq or LEAF for their first EV to compare these two “entry level” EVs.

Range

Real world range I achieved in the LEAF was ~240km from the 40kWh battery. My Ioniq gets ~200km from its 28kWh battery. Despite having a 42% larger battery, range is only increased around 20%. The Ioniq is a very efficient vehicle.

The 2020 Ioniq has a 38kWh battery with a real world range of 270km. Something to keep in mind if you’re comparing the 2019/2020 LEAF to the 2020 Ioniq.

“Rapidgate”

Lots of people asked me about “rapidgate” and the lack of battery cooling. I only had the car for a week so I can’t really comment on battery cooling as that’s a long term thing. But in regards to rapidgate (being unable to rapid DC charge multiple times in a day – more info in this video), I tried to make this happen but both times I charged speeds were 45-50kWh. Rapidgate certainly isn’t a reason not to buy this car.

Small things I liked about the LEAF

e-Pedal is a wonderful way to drive. One pedal driving around town is effortless and becomes second nature after a day or two. I wish the Ioniq had it.

Front charging flap is so much more convenient than the rear side flap on the Ioniq. Also nice how the flap can be opened via the LEAF’s keyfob.

Better visibility on the LEAF for a tall person like me and a more comfortable driving position that rides a bit higher compared to being sunken in on the Ioniq.

360-degree camera & front parking camera is very handy. Unfortunately not an option on the Ioniq, even the 2020 model.

If your LEAF’s battery capacity falls under 8 bars on the dashboard and the battery is less then 160,000km/8 years old, it’s replaced for free. Thank you Nissan for making this clear and easy to understand unlike Hyundai.

V2H/V2G bi-directional charging is possible with the LEAF’s CHAdeMO port. It’s still a year or two away from being a thing consumers can have installed at home, but the LEAF will support it the day it’s available.

Small things I disliked about the LEAF

Adaptive cruise control cuts out in very sunny conditions (i.e: dawn and dusk) on the LEAF, whereas it keeps working regardless of conditions on the Ioniq. ACC & lane keep assist is vastly superior on the Ioniq.

LEAF’s footwell area is very claustrophobic for a fat bloke like me. The sides are also not padded so my knees got sore from resting against the hard plastic. Ioniq has a much more open footwell/transmission area that avoids this problem.

The foot pedal parking brake! What sort of archaic nonsense is this? The Ioniq’s electric parking brake is way better.

No portable EVSE (aka “granny charger”) included with the LEAF. Bit cheap of Nissan not to include one from the dealership.

No smartphone capability. Sure, the Ioniq’s app is a shitshow, but at least it has one. Nissan sell the LEAF with smartphone connectivity overseas but not Australia.

LEAF or Ioniq?

So the $50,000 to $60,000 question – now that you’ve had extensive hands on experience with both the LEAF and Ioniq which one would you buy, Anthony? It’s such a close battle. Both cars are good and I’d be happy to own them both.

Buttttt, I’d probably slightly lean towards the Ioniq, just for comfort reasons and the superior adaptive cruise control. The 2020 Ioniq in particular with its 270km range is a more compelling package to me than the 240-250km LEAF.

If there was a V2H bi-directional charging solution available for domestic use, I would recommend the LEAF in a heartbeat. How awesome would it be to use a small portion of your car’s battery to power your home? Considering a domestic battery costs ~$10,000 installed, V2H capability would be a massive help for financially justifying the purchase of an EV.

Anthony also produces The Sizzle - a daily email newsletter covering all aspects of technology with an Australian point of view.

3 Comments

  1. Bi-directional charging has been available in Japan for earlier models of the Leaf, mainly designed as emergency power in a natural disaster. To use it, however, a large box of electronics is required. Depending on the price of this, it may be difficult to make bi-directional charging financially worthwhile for owners. I also am annoyed that Nissan Australia has made such a noise about a feature that isn’t actually available here yet, and is currently against grid regulations. Thank you for the comparison between the two cars, very interesting.

    1. Being ready to buy an EV, I recently (Nov 2019), test drove the new Nissan Leaf. In my opinion it does not favourably compare with the Hyundai Ionic, and certainly not with the more expensive Hyundai Kona SUV. The foot parking brake in the Leaf is a disastrous idea, the big ‘Bose’ branded stereo/electronics box awkwardly mounted in the boot is inexplicable, no battery cooling is poor design, and the still fairly minimal range (compared to others), is hardly much of an improvement to the previous version. I suspect that Nissan has cut too many corners in order to keep the price down. Unfortunately the low Australian dollar is the enemy of imports at present.

  2. but both times I charged speeds were 45-50kWh. Rapidgate certainly isn’t a reason not to buy this car.

    Shouldn’t that be 45-50kW?

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