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2018-present Nissan Leaf Mk2 | Used Car Review

Published 10th July 2024Read Time 11 min

What is the Nissan Leaf?

The original Nissan Leaf put the Japanese company on the front foot in the race to electrification. But for the second generation launched in 2018, the company decided to give its electric hatchback a more mainstream look to appeal to more buyers. As with the first Leaf, the Mk2 only came in a five-door hatchback body, while the front-mounted motor sends drive to the front wheels. It was given an improved interior with tech taken from the Nissan Qashqai crossover, while the battery tech under the skin was also improved.

By the time the second-generation Leaf arrived, there was more choice in the electric car class, although the only direct hatchback alternatives were the Volkswagen e-Golf and that company’s later dedicated EV, the ID.3. If you want electric drive but don’t need as much space as the Leaf offers, then the Renault Zoe is an option, as is the futuristic BMW i3.

Cars with similar space include small crossovers such as the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona, while later electric hatchback arrivals include the MG4, and more recently the Peugeot E-308 and Opel Astra Electric. Non-electric rivals are common, or there are plug-in hybrids that offer electric range and the backup of a combustion engine. Examples include the VW Golf GTE and Skoda Octavia, while the Niro and Kona mentioned above also come in plug-in or hybrid guises.Which Leaf Mk2 to go for?

Nissan developed the second-generation Leaf from the knowledge it gathered from the original model. The basic platform was carried over, but as well as a new body, Nissan added a larger battery and more powerful electric motor to the mix. At launch the Nissan Leaf Mk2 came with a 40kWh battery that came with a WLTP-certified range of 274km, although as with many EVs of this era, cold weather would see you achieve half that.

The electric motor is rated at 148hp, which was a healthy jump over the old model’s. In 2019 the Leaf e+ was launched with a 62kWh battery and an official range of 385km. The bigger battery meant extra weight, so Nissan also bumped the electric motor up to 215hp to cope. Charging for both versions of the Leaf is via a flap on the nose above the car’s stylised grille. Open it up, and there are two ports offered.

At launch, Nissan offered SV, SV Premium and SVE trims, while a high-spec Launch Edition was also available with lots of kit included. One option that’s worth seeking out is the Cold Pack with heated seats and steering wheel – these extras help to take some load off the battery, leaving the charge for driving range. Standard equipment is generous across the lineup, though. Alloy wheels, touchscreen infotainment, a reversing camera and a full set of driver assistance systems, including departure warning to help you stay in lane, and rear cross traffic alert for help with reversing. Higher-spec cars include equipment such as LED headlights for better visibility at night.

What’s the Leaf Mk2 like to drive and be in?

If you’re in the market for a family hatchback that can seat four in quiet and refined comfort over short distances, then the Nissan Leaf is a tempting proposition. It has more space inside than the similarly priced Renault Zoe, and because the batteries are mounted under the floor, it means that legroom is fine in all five seats. Up front the layout is fairly traditional, although a central touchscreen and a semi-digital display adds a modern touch.

It’s easy to get comfortable at the wheel, although there’s only rake adjustment for the steering, no reach setting. The touchscreen is easy to get along with, while separate climate controls offer ease of use when on the move. You’ll likely notice that you sit a bit higher in the back of the Leaf with your knees raised when compared to a similar petrol or diesel-powered hatchback, but it’s not a tortuous place to spend time. If you’re going to be carrying small children, there are ISOFIX child seat attachments for the two outer rear seats, though space will be tight for bulky rear-facing seats.

The location of the battery under the floor means that boot space is generous, and certainly bigger than you would get in the electric VW e-Golf. At 435 litres there’s room for a couple of large suitcases, and the weekly shop will easily fit in without having to move the charging cables out. Unlike some electric cars, the Leaf doesn’t have storage under the bonnet, because that’s where the electric motor and charging connections live. As with all electric cars, the Leaf has an automatic gearbox, so all you need to do is move the selector on the centre console to the right and back to select drive and you’re in your way.

There’s also a B mode on offer that offers stronger energy recovery when you lift off the accelerator, while cars fitted with the e-Pedal switch just ahead of the drive selector offer one-pedal driving. E-Pedal is an interesting addition, and it means that you can drive just by using the accelerator and without touching the brake pedal. You press the throttle as normal, but if you want to slow down, then you just raise your right foot to bring the pedal back a little, and this activates the Leaf’s energy recovery system, which slows the car and sends energy back to the battery at the same time.

It’s strong enough that one-pedal driving is easily possible – it might take some getting used to, especially when coming to a complete stop when lifting off (the Leaf’s auto-style forward creep is deactivated in this mode, while Auto Hold prevents the car from rolling backwards or forwards) but once you’re accustomed to the sensation, it’s easy to get along with. Since the Leaf is hatchback sized, it’s easy to place on the road, while a standard reversing camera helps with parking.

Any known issues?

If you’re looking at a Leaf Mk2 powered by the 40kWh battery, beware that – like all EVs – the pack can lose its charge capacity over time, especially if it has been rapid-charged on a regular basis. This degradation of the pack isn’t dangerous, it just means that the car will have a reduced range, so you’ll have to charge it up more often, which might be a hassle if you’re not able to park and charge the car overnight. While the Leaf has 50kW charging, it’s common to see a maximum rate of around 30kW when plugged in. However, that slower charging rate should help battery life to an extent. While the electric running gear should prove dependable, there are electrical glitches to beware of from the Leaf’s in-car electronics. Check that everything works properly, such as the window switches, climate controls and infotainment. Impressively, there have only been two recalls for the Leaf Mk2 so far. The first was in October 2020, when UK-built cars manufactured between July and September 2019 were recalled to check the welding of an actuator plate within the transmission that could fail to lock the car in Park when that mode was selected. The second recall three years later in October 2023 affected around 170,000 cars built from December 2017 to May 2023. It focused on the vehicle control module, where deactivating the cruise control could cause sudden and unintended acceleration. It’s worth bearing in mind that these recalls may not apply to all vehicles but are worth getting checked to see if any car you’re looking at has been affected and fixed appropriately.

Is the Leaf Mk2 cheap to run?

Zero emissions from the electric running gear means the Nissan Leaf has the lowest motor tax rates, and these apply to all models, including UK imports. The cheapest way to keep the battery of the Leaf topped up is to plug it in at home. Based on an electricity price of 30c per kWh, the 40kWh Leaf should cost around €12 to fully charge, while the 62kWh version might take longer, but will still only cost around €18-€20 to do the same. Public charging is more costly and rapid chargers will be costlier still, although prices should still be lower or on a par with filling a petrol or diesel model to cover the same distance. Electric cars have fewer moving parts than petrol models, so logic dictates that servicing costs are lower, too. That is largely the case, although there are still filters and fluids that need to be replaced over time, while a heavier kerb weight means there might be more wear and tear on items such as the tyres and suspension, although the brakes should last a very long time if you’re tuned into using the Leaf’s energy recovery to slow down. Insurance costs should be reasonable for this hatchback when compared with some more glitzy and upmarket EVs, but since electric cars are still a bit of an unknown quantity in terms of repair costs, cover might be pricier than it is for a petrol or diesel hatchback. The Leaf’s popularity should help keep costs lower than for some rival EVs, though. For an idea of how much you could pay, the AA can find you quotes, while the AA Approved used car scheme will offer extra peace of mind with any potential purchase.

How expensive is the Leaf Mk2?

The Nissan Leaf Mk2 arrived in 2018, so there is a wide selection of models available at different price points used. Early, high-mileage 40kWh cars are around €12,000, while the most recent facelift models from 2023 on are around €24,500. If you’re after the bigger battery for a longer range, prices start from around €18,000. In Ireland, the trim range comprised SV, SV Premium and SVE, plus a Launch Edition model that was offered in 2018. If you’re looking at UK imports, the range started with basic Visia with steel wheels and plastic trims, while Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna trims ramped up the equipment in similar stages to domestic cars. It’s worth seeking out higher-spec versions of the Leaf that come with a heat pump. This helps to take a load off the drive battery to keep the cabin temperature in check.

Why buy an AA Approved Car?

You can benefit from extrAA peace of mind when buying a used car via the AA Approved Car program. Our trusted network of AA Approved Dealers offer a range of services to help get you on the road with a car that you can trust. Buy a used car from an AA Approved Dealer, and it will come with 12 months of roadside assistance as standard. Your used car will also be the subject of a 101-point safety check by a qualified technician that will cover the bodywork, brakes, steering, suspension, lights, wheels, tyres, interior and safety kit. As well as these hands-on checks, our Approved Dealers offer a full history check of any potential purchase.