Effortless electric driving, green, clean and reliable

Top of its game: the Nissan Leaf is the most sophisticated electric car of its kind on the market
Top of its game: the Nissan Leaf is the most sophisticated electric car of its kind on the market
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With minimum effort I reversed the electric car noiselessly out of a parking space, switched to drive and glided on to the road.

There were a few puzzled looks from passers-by, confused by its silence and attracted by its sky-blue good looks, and then I moved into the flow of busy traffic as quickly as any motor car.

The motion was so smooth and quiet that I felt unsure if I was actually driving. It felt almost like this Nissan Leaf could be driving itself.

The battery-life gauge showed it had been fully charged with 80-odd miles left before I needed to plug it in again.

All I required was access to a normal household socket at a cost of about £1.80 per eight-hour charge (unless you’ve got solar-powered electricity in your home and then it’s even more green and economical).

So there’s no wallet-busting visits to the petrol station or mad panic over fuel shortages. And this five-door Leaf looks pretty smart too, inside and out, a model of clean, efficient transport with room for three in the back (or plenty of room for two).

It’s extremely comfortable and, being an automatic, very easy to drive.

It’s got all the usual modern mod cons including steering wheel controls, voice-activated bluetooth, a 7-inch LCD touch screen and sat nav plus a couple of nifty extras like a rear-view camera for painless parking and a mobile phone-controlled heating and air conditioning system.

And let’s not forget its green appeal with zero emissions. Although how “green” electric cars would be if everyone had one is another matter.

All sounds good, very good. Too good to be true, in fact. So what’s the rub? Well, the five-door Leaf comes in at just under £26k and that price is thanks to a £5,000 government grant.

Which is not cheap but then there’s no petrol costs, a hefty consideration today, and no road tax.

As Tony Metcalfe, dealer prinicpal at Lightcliffe Nissan, says: “You’ve got to be able to see the bigger picture to appreciate this car.”

He tells me the realistic range of this family car, is around 80 miles per charge (Nissan say 109 miles) depending on how you drive it.

Driving at high speeds, braking hard and using the heating and air conditioning all drain the battery pretty quickly.

But the Leaf certainly busts the myth that electric cars are not as fast as motor cars - in normal drive mode it performs no differently and will easily do 100mph.

Eco-drive, which uses less power, is fine for speeds up to around 50mph and ideal for daily short commuting, shopping and the school run.

So how geared up is Yorkshire for electric cars? In London, there is free parking and charging at Canary Wharf and no congestion fees for electric-car drivers.

Predictably, we’re a bit slower to catch on up here and finding a public charging point in Halifax was no easy matter. Lightcliffe Nissan have a super-fast charger (around 20 mins) for their customers and Sainsburys in Wade Street have one charger in the car park, which is not yet up and running, but I was assured by the store manager that it soon will be.

So if it’s the throaty roar of a petrol engine that floats your boat this is probably not the car for you.

But if you’ve an eye on the future, on a different, more practical, energy-efficient way of living the Leaf is worth looking at. Particularly for daily short commuting distances and mums on the school run.

For more details and technical stuff go to http://lightcliffe.nissan.co.uk.

Better still, drop into Lightcliffe Nissan at Shay Syke, Halifax, for a chat and a test drive. Call 01422 380380 or email tmetcalfe@lightcliffenissan.co.uk. It’s definitely worth it.