It might look the same but the next-generation LEAF is all-new

Posted on February 28, 2013 by in Latest News, News

nisleafYESTERDAY we were pleased to bring you the news that the next-generation Nissan LEAF is on its way. 

And we must admit, that at first glance, the new LEAF appears to have changed very little from the multi-award winning original.

But the breadth and depth of the changes mean, to all intents and purposes, it is a new car. It is more comfortable and roomier than before and even better to drive. It will go further on a charge than before and, depending on the market, it can be charged in half the time, too.

‘The comprehensive improvements we have made to this pioneering car reinforce its unique character: unexpected, smart, accessible and progressive,’ said Paul Willcox. Together the changes underline and enhance the innovation and excitement delivered by the original. Excitement is ensured by the biggest technical change – a new, fully integrated powertrain that brings the charger assembly, inverter and the motor together for the first time.

‘Now assembled together as a single stack, the new powertrain is again based around a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor powered by Nissan-designed 48-module compact lithium-ion batteries, mounted underneath the cabin area to lower the centre of gravity for optimum handling.

‘By moving the charger from the rear of the LEAF to under the bonnet, it has been possible to increase the luggage area by as much as 40 litres… or to put that another way, about the size of a typical airplane ‘‘carry-on” suitcase. Overall boot capacity has increased to a massive 370 litres.

More significantly, the removal of the charger from behind the rear seats turns the LEAF into an even more practical proposition. There is now no obstacle in the middle of the boot floor when the seats are folded, while rear legroom has been increased thanks to reshaped seat cushions, which allow passengers in the rear to put their feet under the seat in front.

Improvements to the heating and ventilation system centre on a new heat pump system which replaces the original ceramic heater. This significantly reduces electrical consumption and delivers an improvement in real-world driving range. This is particularly relevant to markets where drivers rely heavily on the heating and ventilation systems.

New LEAF’s real-world driving range has also been improved by the only visual change to the car: a subtly revised front grille helps reduce the aerodynamic drag coefficient Cd figure from an already impressive 0.29 to 0.28. The new LEAF’s driving range is certified at 124miles (200km) under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is an increase from 109 miles (175 km) in the prior model.

Changes to the chassis

The new LEAF is more fun to drive, too, thanks to changes to the chassis, steering and brakes engineered at Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE). Principal changes have been to damper settings to reduce float and deliver a more agile and dynamic drive without adversely affecting ride comfort. The steering system has been given more weight to provide steering feel more in tune with European tastes while the performance of the brakes has been improved to make them more progressive in use, while also increasing the amount of energy recovered.

Changes have also been made to the Eco driving mode. A new ‘B’ setting on the transmission increases regenerative braking during deceleration while a separate ‘Eco’ button on the steering wheel extends driving range by altering the throttle mapping to discourage rapid acceleration. The two systems can be operated independently of one another, unlike in the original LEAF.

Other key improvements to the LEAF’s e-Powertrain include reduced internal friction and a more efficient battery and energy management system.

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