The first generation Nissan LEAF (2011-2017) Car Guide

The Nissan Leaf has been on sale in Australia since 2011. In many ways, it was and still is the first truly practical all electric car and has a worldwide reputation as a great car that many love – although it’s looks are, let’s say, unique.

With quite a number of this unpretentious and time-proven EV running around in Australia, we take a look into the details of why this car appeals to many of its owners.

Drive Zero Car Guides are written for people trying to get a feel of the electric car landscape in Australia. We only wrote guides for battery (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles that are confirmed to be on sale in the market in Australia now, or are coming soon.

Our goal is to summarise as much as you might want to know about the different considerations for each of these electric cars and who they may be useful for. That said, we’re not qualified car reviewers, so full reviews of these models, we’ve included the best links and video for reviews that we could find.

First Generation Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy of Steve Lyon, flickr

What’s so good about the Nissan Leaf?

Nissan’s Leaf was the original and best EV. When it debuted back in 2011 it was the first all electric car that not only had a decent (real world) range of 117 km, but was also a generous size too.

It’s a five door hatchback that has a very unique look. Thanks to its world-class first mover advantage, it’s still officially the most sold EV in the world. This might soon be overtaken by the Tesla Model 3, but for now it remains king.

Nissan has also had the unique advantage of being able to learn and develop their existing EV into a second gen version. Most other manufacturers are still only just releasing their first version all electric vehicle.

In late 2017 Nissan finally announced their overhauled Leaf to bring it back up to speed with where the EV market has gone. With new looks, almost double the range, faster acceleration and many other improvements it should be a fantastic option for those looking for a solid all round EV – when it arrives.

How much does the Nissan Leaf cost and what models are on sale in Australia?

Red Nissan Leaf. Source: Wikipedia

Currently, you cannot buy any new Nissan Leafs in Australia. This is due to Nissan no longer selling their older model… but not yet selling their new one.

However, as the Leaf has been available in Australia since 2011 there are a few second hand Leafs that come up on the market – and this is where the fun starts, as they are starting to creep down into the low $20,000s which is becoming an achievable price point for some very cheap motoring.

Nissan Leaf key details

The Nissan Leaf has a well liked five door hatch design that appeals to a broad market. However, there was only one trim and model available in Australia throughout the years the first generation was on sale. It comes with a 24kWh battery that can reach a maximum range of about 135 km on a single charge.

Here are the specs:

 Nissan Leaf
(2011 - 2017)
Table last updated November 2017
Key ModelsSingle Trim only
- Alloy Wheels
- Fast Charge
- Portable Charger
- Navigation System
- Remote Climate Control
- Remote Battery Monitoring
Release Date & AvailabilityOn sale 2011 - 2017
No longer available new
PriceUsed: from ~$28,000
Electric Range
(real world)
117km - 135km (EPA Range)
0-100 km/h11.3 Seconds
Battery24 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
Drivetrain80 kW Front Wheel AC Synchronous Electric Motor
SeatsFive-door hatchback, seats 5 passengers
ChargingCHAdeMO + J1772 Connector
Vehicle & Battery WarrantyDependent on second hand model purchase

How does the Nissan Leaf stack up?

As this original Leaf has been selling for multiple years already, there are lots of great reviews online. These range from proper reviews all the way up to personal, independent reviews after owning the car for a full year.

What Car? original Nissan Leaf review

Nissan Leaf 1-Year Owner’s Review & Assessment

Many people report loving their Leaf mostly due to the benefits of it being all electric.The much quieter and smoother drive experience. Never having to fill it up with petrol and other things that make EV’s unique such as instant torque.

While not everyone likes the look of the exterior, some love it – or at least appreciate that it’s unique. While it’s no Lamborghini, let’s say it helps to differentiate it in a sea of tired old regular cars.

Nissan Leaf – Battery, Charging and Power

As a pure electric vehicle it’s important that potential owners understand the options for charging the Nissan Leaf.

Image via News Limited – Justin Benson-Cooper

Regardless if you purchase an older, second hand Nissan Leaf or wait until the new 2018 model comes out the charging options appear to be the same. The size of the battery will be quite different though which will obviously affect the range.

The older Leaf models battery allow real world (or EPA rated) ranges from 117 km to 135 km depending on the year purchased compared to a promising 240 km range for the base 40 kWh battery or even a 60 kWh option with the 2018 Leaf.

The Nissan Leaf has two types of charging ports as shown below to give you an idea on how quickly they charge in various cases.

240V – FAST CHARGING (HOME AND PUBLIC)
1 HOUR CHARGE = UP TO 35 km OF RANGE

50KW – FASTEST CHARGING (PUBLIC)
30 MINUTE CHARGE = UP TO 140 km OF RANGE

On the left, CHAdeMo. On the right, J1772. Source: arstechnica.com

As such, you can charge it from a range of public charging stations, such as from the Chargepoint network.

What’s the interior of a Nissan Leaf Gen 1 look like?

With room for 5 passengers, a hatchback design to allow for fitting large items in the boot and a spacious cabin, the vehicle’s interior is fairly practical.

The older Nissan Leaf’s interior. Source: Wikipedia

The earlier 2015 Nissan Leaf interior. Source: motortrend.com

Summing Up – a fantastic all round car

The Nissan Leaf is one of the best known and most iconic EV’s out there and for good reason. Nissan has sold over 300,000 of them and with their new 2018 model incoming those numbers could soar if it’s priced right.

Furthermore, Nissan is a very well established car manufacturer that people trust. This trust is critical to many buyers and is an excellent advantage. They have been able to learn over the past 7 years what makes or breaks a great EV and use all that knowledge to shape upcoming models.

Those looking for an EV that will not break the bank, the second hand Leafs available right now are still great electric cars to be considered.

While the older model’s range relegated it to more of a “second car”, it has now been well addressed with that 240 km EPA Rated range and an even longer range version coming later with the new 2018 model.

Are you a happy (or unhappy?!) Nissan Leaf owner? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.

* Feature image courtesy of Wikipedia

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