The Nissan Leaf - the world's most popular all-electric car - got a major upgrade at a bustling event in Yokohama, Japan this morning. We elbowed our way through the massive crowd of excitable dudes in suits to bring you the latest about one of the most promising mainstream EVs yet.
New features, new look
The new Leaf has had an overhaul inside and out. A sleeker, more aerodynamic design is coupled with exciting new tech including ProPilot - essentially autocorrect for driving.
It's not as autonomous as what Tesla is offering - or indeed the fully autonomous Leaf we tried in March - but ProPilot is a level two technology that promises "less stressful and more relaxing" driving. We're not sure driving should be relaxing, exactly, but it does sound like ProPilot will be handy for perfecting your already-pretty-awesome driving skills.
As well as offering "driver assistance" during single-lane highway trips, ProPilot can basically park the car for you. This is good news for anyone who's ever tried to get a spot in Waitrose of a lunchtime. ProPilot Park handles the steering, braking, gear switching and acceleration, so you can concentrate on lowering your sunglasses as you glide effortlessly into a tight spot.
ProPilot is accompanied by the ePedal, a smart accelerator that essentially lets you do gesture control with the pedal. For instance, taking your foot off the ePedal kicks in the regenerative and friction brakes, stopping the Leaf completely. It stays there, even on steep inclines, until you tap the pedal again. But Nissan were quick to point out that you'll still need to use the actual brake if you need to stop suddenly, for a pedestrian or a frog or whatever.
Giving power back
The Leaf comes with vehicle-to-grid (or V2G) tech, which uses two-way charging to actually put electricity back into the grid. This has implications for renewable energy, but also promises to be a way for Leaf owners to make a bit of cash on the side.
The app's been given an overhaul too, allowing you to check on your car's charging, find a charging station and even warm up the car before you get in.
But can you go anywhere in it?
Predictably, the new Leaf is promising improved range, which is always one of the sticking points for mass adoption of EVs. The headline figure is 235 miles on a single charge, but as ever we suspect the real-world figures will be a fair bit lower.
Update 6/9: You might have seen US outlets reporting 150 miles for the Leaf's range. We spoke to Nissan and they confirmed that this is the US figure from the EPA. For Europe, the figure is 235 miles, from the NEDC. The tests use different parameters, so you might want to look into EPA and NEDC ratings for past EVs and decide which you think is closer to your experience. Realistically we think EPA is probably closer in this case, but it's too early to know for sure.
The e-powertrain provides 110kW, over a third higher than the previous model, and torque has had a 26% boost up to 320 Nm. Nissan reckons you can still charge the new 40KWH battery as quickly as the previous one, with a full charge possible overnight.
Nissan Leaf 2018 price and UK release date
The Nissan Leaf 2018 will be on sale in Europe, including the UK, from January next year - but we don't yet have confirmed UK pricing. In the US, it'll start from about $30k, so we're probably looking at mid-high 20s for the base model, but we'll have to wait to know for sure.
We'll be back shortly with more from the Nissan Leaf launch event - we're not allowed to drive one, but dammit, we're at least going to give it a stroke. Stay tuned.