The Nissan LEAF Drive Zero Car Guide

The Nissan Leaf has been on sale in Australia since 2011. In many ways, it was the first truly practical all electric car and has a worldwide reputation as a great car that many love.

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’s a fantastic option for those looking for a solid all round EV.

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.

Nissan Leaf

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, in both the new and older design, a very unique and well known look. While many disliked the older design, it’s new look is much more akin to “normal” cars out in the world as can be seen in the image above.

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.

As such the current new model has three different ranges including the S, SV and SL. This covers a variety of extras that you can add to the car such as Android Auto integration and their new Pro Pilot systems.

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

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. The new Nissan Leaf should come to the Australian market in late 2018 according to Nissan, but there’s been no formal announcement on dates or exact timing.

However as the Leaf has been available in Australia since 2011 there are a few second hand Leafs that you can buy for around the $28,000-$35,000 mark.

As for the new Leaf model, we unfortunately don’t have any official Australian prices just yet – but they have given USD prices. The 2018 S model starts at $29,990 USD while the SV and SL models are $32,490 USD and $36,200 USD respectively.

Who knows what Nissan will price the new Leaf at in Australia but doing a simple USD to AUD conversion gives around $40,000 AUD for the S model. No doubt there will be a lot of on road costs, GST and the standard “Australian Tax” added to that as well.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see it with a starting price of $45,000+ while some other sites have been quoting numbers in the $50,000+ range. We’ll just have to wait and see, as it’s all speculation at this point.

Nissan Leaf key details

 Nissan Leaf
(2011 - 2017)
Nissan Leaf
(2018 - Current)
Table last updated November 2017
Key ModelsSingle Trim only
- Alloy Wheels
- Fast Charge
- Portable Charger
- Navigation System
- Remote Climate Control
- Remote Battery Monitoring
S = Base Trim
- e-Pedal
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- 7.0? Advanced Drive-Assist® Display
- Automatic Temperature Control

SV = Mid-Level Trim
- 17? Machine-finished aluminium-alloy wheels
- Intelligent Cruise Control
- Quick Charge Port
- Nissan Navigation System
- Apple Carplay
- Android Auto

SL = High-End Trim
- Intelligent Around View Monitor
- Blind Spot Warning
- Leather-appointed seats
- Bose Seven-Speaker Audio
- Portable charge cable (120 V/240 V)
- LED headlights
Release Date & AvailabilityOn sale 2011 - 2017
No longer available new
On sale 2018
Exact sale date unknown
PriceUsed: from ~$28,000Unknown
Electric Range
(real world)
117km - 135km (EPA Range)240 km (EPA Range 40 kWh model)
360 km (estimated range of 60 kWh model)
0-100 km/h11.3 Seconds8.9 Seconds
Battery24 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
40 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
60 kWh Lithium Ion Battery (later release)
Drivetrain80 kW Front Wheel AC Synchronous Electric Motor110 kW Front Wheel AC Synchronous Electric Motor
SeatsFive-door hatchback, seats 5 passengers
ChargingCHAdeMO + J1772 Connector
Vehicle & Battery WarrantyDependant on second hand model purchaseUnknown
The new 2018 Nissan Leaf comes in 8 different colours including Glacier White, Deep Blue Pearl and Scarlet Ember Red.

One of the best features of the new Leaf is the many options and extras that are available. With three different models and a slew of optional extras it helps to cater for many different likes, requirements and price points.

Due to the new nature of all electric vehicles, many manufacturers cars only come with quite basic options when compared to traditional ICE cars. Simple things like Apple Carplay, multiple different exterior paints or interior colours or even a premium sound system might be critical features for some and Nissan addresses them all well with their tiers.

The very decent 240 km of real world range also elevates it above many other older or even current EV’s out there. Combined with a very well liked five door hatch design and the target market is quite broad.

Nissan Leaf Pricing

As mentioned above, we still don’t have Australian prices for any of the 3 tiers yet. Nissan has said that they plan on selling the Leaf in 2018 so presumably they will set a price at some point before that. Until then it’s all just speculation.

Given that the Leaf isn’t generally seen as a luxury car (as opposed to the Tesla Model 3 or BMW 3 Series) one would expect them to be priced accordingly. Australian prices for the Model 3 also haven’t been released yet but they’re expected to begin around $55,000 drive away.

Only time will tell whether Nissan prices the Leaf attractively enough to drive significant sales. If they end up only being a few thousand dollars short of what Tesla is charging for their much more luxurious Model 3 there might not be too many people biting!

How does the Nissan Leaf stack up?

As the 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 older Leaf exterior some love it. While it’s no Lamborghini design, it is very unique and helps to differentiate it in a sea of tired old ICE cars.

The new 2018 Leaf hasn’t been officially released for sale to the public yet so most reviews that are available now are just general overview pieces. There are some personal driving experiences given, but most have only driven it for a very limited time and in Japan.

We’ll have to wait until it lands in Australia before we get more in depth information like what it’s like to drive after a few weeks of use.

Cars Guide Nissan Leaf 2018 review: first drive video

Drive.com.au 2018 Nissan Leaf First Drive Review

Car Advice 2018 Nissan LEAF first drive review

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.

Equipped with both on board AC charging for home use and direct DC fast charging for trips

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.

For the older Leaf models the battery will only allow real world (or EPA rated) ranges from 117 km to 135 km depending on the year purchased. For the new 2018 Leaf models they’re promising a much more robust 240 km range for the base 40 kWh battery option.

They’ve also said that a longer range 60 kWh battery model will be released later on too. No range for this one has been given yet but we can extrapolate it out to get a rough idea. If it’s the same efficiency as the 40 kWh model it should be rated for around 360 km of EPA range.

The new 2018 Nissan LEAF has no heavy second fossil fuel engine to drag around with it

The 2018 Nissan Leaf also has two charging examples as shown below to give you an idea on how quickly the new model will charge in various cases.



On the left, CHAdeMo. On the right, J1772. All Leaf trim levels have an onboard 6.6kW charger, and the SL trim comes with a level 2 charger to connect to your own 240v power supply at home. Source: arstechnica.com

Information on what chargers connectors are included in the purchase in Australia haven’t been officially released yet but from early reviews it looks like CHAdeMo and J1772 will be there just like on the original Leaf.

This is quite good as 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 look like?

2018 Nissan Leaf Interior. Source: Nissan

Once again, the interior heavily depends on if you’re purchasing an older model Leaf or the new one. Nissan redesigned the interior for the new 2018 model slightly and overall it has been reviewed as being very traditional and solid. One minor gripe from many has been that the steering column isn’t as adjustable as it needs to be.

While the interior might not win awards for innovation, it’s also a great interior that won’t scare off your average buyer. It has a seven inch touch screen built into the dash along with many other features such as energy usage meter, rear camera (as well as an overhead view with the upgraded packages) and even a screen based dashboard.

2018 Nissan Leaf Interior in light grey. Source: Nissan

As stated there are many different options available for the new 2018 Nissan Leaf. This is also extended to the interior as well with various options such as Black Cloth as standard as well as Light Grey or Black Leather on the higher trims.

There’s also options available for Android Auto, Apple Carplay, blind spot warning, premium audio, LED headlights, 17″ alloy wheels and their Pro Pilot system which can follow the car ahead of you and even park the car itself.

With room for 5 passengers, a hatchback design to allow for fitting large items in the boot and a great 435 L capacity the new 2018 Leaf is plenty appealing. If you’re after a second hand older model Leaf the interior is only slightly different.

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

As you can see the steering wheel, section under the main screen and the dashboard have all been updated with the newer 2018 model. That being said the older Leaf is still very modern and has excellent features such as the touch screen and digital dash.

The earlier 2015 Nissan Leaf interior lower spec version. Source: motortrend.com

In black and with a lower trim level the screen is different on the older model Leafs. Either way it has everything you’d need such as steering wheel controls and a clean, simple design.

What other great features does it have?

Nissan Leaf
Source: nissanusa.com

One of the best things about the new Nissan Leaf is its companion app. As you can see, the interface is gorgeous and very useful, allowing you to see immediate data as well as easily access many cool features. Unfortunately you’ll have to purchase the SV or SL trim levels to gain access to it which is a bit of a shame.

With NissanConnect you can remotely monitor the cars temperature and charge status. You can turn on the heater or AC before you get to your car. It even allows you to lock or unlock it similar to the new Tesla Model 3’s phone based system.

Being an EV, you can even turn the car on and heat/cool it while it’s in a garage. It’s fantastic to see Nissan offering these very advanced and modern day features in a non-luxury car. There’s even the ability to flash the cars lights or find near by charging stations.

Nissan Leaf
Source: nissanusa.com

Nissan has also introduced what it calls the “e-Pedal”. Their take on regenerative breaking. With it you can use just one foot/pedal to make the car accelerate, slow down to a stop and even stay still on a hill.



Not only does it make driving easier, it should encourage people to use regen more often which will help prolong the life of their breaks.

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.

With the reported huge range of trim levels, paint options, features and combinations, the 2018 Leaf will be appealing to a huge range of buyers. This is especially true given its highly popular hatchback design. While the older Leaf mostly suffered from limited range and its “unique” exterior design, the new 2018 model addresses those problem excellently.

Furthermore Nissan is a very well established car manufacturer that people trust. This trust is critical to many buyers and is an excellent advantage. Adding onto this the 2018 Leaf is their second generation model. This means they have a huge advantage over most other car companies with the only exception being Tesla. 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 this new model and it shows.

The new design is more modern and quite frankly just better looking. At the same time you can still see a bit of “Leaf” in it which isn’t a bad thing. The interior is modern and integrates a lot of new and advanced features like their Pro Pilot, NissanConnect app and digital displays. At the same time it’s not so futuristic that it will alienate new owners. The entire car screams “one step at a time” when it comes to pushing people into the new, all electric future that every manufacturer is heading towards.

Range on the Leaf is now also well addressed with that 240 km EPA Rated range and an even longer range version coming later on for those who want it. While the older Leafs range relegated it to more of a “second car”, the new Leaf can easily handle itself throughout heavy driving loads. Regardless of whether you’re driving on the freeway, hauling heavier loads in the boot or just driving in hot weather with 5 passengers and the AC cranked right up you’ll likely not have to worry much, if at all, about range which is fantastic.

The Nissan Leaf gives buyers a great range of options when buying an all electric vehicle. For those looking for a cheaper version there are the second hand older model Leafs which are still great cars but just have a bit lower range. For those shopping for a new car the 2018 model looks to be one of the first all round great EV’s that’s right up there with the Tesla Model 3.

The critical test for Nissan though will be in how they price it. Not too many people will want to pay Tesla prices for something that’s nowhere near as pretty, powerful or technologically advanced as the Model 3. If Nissan can price it appropriately lower than the Model 3’s likely luxury price though they will have a fantastic car on their hands.

Editor in Chief at Alex Shoolman - Learn how to improve your life with technology, see where it's going in the future and how you can take advantage of it, and at Mutilate The Mortgage - We help people go from "no idea" to mortgage free in under 10 years and offer How To Pay Off A Mortgage Early - What if you could be mortgage free in under 10 years, automatically and without cutting back on the things you love?