Cars > Driven

Nissan Leaf: A painless way to begin your EV journey

When familiarity is the best solution

Perhaps the best way to get into an EV is with something familiar, like the Nissan Leaf. PHOTO BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

The decision to go fully electric can be a confusing one, understandably. Depending on budget, options for leaving gas-powered vehicles behind are plenty.

For a first EV, something more familiar and not too out-of-the-ordinary would probably be a better choice. Priced at P1,998,000, the Nissan Leaf just might be a good contender for a starter electric vehicle.

The subdued design doesn't scream, 'I'm an electric car.' PHOTOS BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

The best quality this EV has is that it’s easy to operate and uncomplicated. Apart from being noiseless and engine-less, it responds like a very reliable hatchback. Its size is manageable and quite typical for the midsize category.

The sense of familiarity and effortlessness are the Leaf’s strong points, and it borderline waxes nostalgia for older Nissan sedans. But what else does the Leaf have to offer?

But it does have its quirks. PHOTOS BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

On the exterior, it’s an unassuming modern five-door hatchback, but a closer look would show some sleek details from the headlamps to the signature floating roof—and even the unique geometric design of its 16-inch wheels. The redesigned V-Motion grille gives subtle ultra-modernity to its overall facade.

The interior is also very basic and familiar, save for the unique gear selector. PHOTOS BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

The interior is equally unassuming, designed to be comfortable for both driver and passenger. Up front, the instrument meter is nothing too fancy but simple enough to understand the necessary indicators, the EV settings, and the battery charge status.

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment allows you to connect to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with other connectivity options. The dashboard and the console details in general look pretty simple, but one particularly unique feature is the gear selector.

The ergonomic design is easy to adjust to and lets the driver apply minimal effort to move the vehicle.

It's still a hatchback, so it's practical. PHOTOS BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

All seats are upholstered in fabric and are actually quite comfortable. Seats are manually adjusted, which is slightly disappointing. The rear seats are 60:40 split-foldable to fit even more cargo, adding to the roomy rear cargo space.

The benefits of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology include safety features that will allow a much safer daily commute. Some of these are the automatic emergency braking, the adaptive cruise control, and the emergency stop function.

There’s also a VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians) feature to let people know you’re approaching.

It's not a blisteringly quick EV, which should help with those transitioning. PHOTO BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

Apart from being inaudible on the road, electric vehicles are also known for their instant acceleration. The Leaf, on the other hand, pretty much behaves like a regular gas vehicle would.

While this could disappoint some, it might appeal to others for bringing ease and comfort over the unfamiliar. However, it’s not designed to go super fast. Producing 148hp with 320Nm of torque, it’s decent power for the everyday drive.

The car has a practical maximum range of 311km. But based on real-world standards, this would depend on how well the driver conserves the battery charge.

It's not a long-range EV, so you will need to manage your usage and charging. PHOTOS BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

There are Eco Mode and B Mode options to improve range, and in addition, the e-Pedal feature extends battery time through regenerative braking.

It recharges the battery and allows for easy driving by letting the vehicle speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. This, however, will take some getting used to.

It might not serve a spectacular range, and public charging stations are still limited in number. But the best upside to the Leaf is that it can be charged at home, in the comfort of your own garage.

Connecting the home charger (EVSE cable) from your car to a standard 220V wall socket makes owning an EV manageable and within control. Wallbox chargers for the home are another option to consider for quicker charging.

The Leaf makes a very strong proposition as your first-ever EV. PHOTO BY PATTY MORATO-ROA

For a typical daily shuttle, the Nissan Leaf performs exceptionally well. It’s an even-tempered enabler pushing you into wanting a “starter” EV. On a personal note, it’s comfortable, familiar and unintimidating.

It’s actually quite reminiscent of past favorite Nissan sedans. That’s an odd review, given it’s a full-electric car. But really, it’s a virtuous Nissan sedan undercover.


EngineSynchronous electric motor
TransmissionSingle-speed reduction gear
Dimensions4,490mm x 1,788mm x 1,540mm
Drive layoutFWD
UpsideMakes for a good gateway electric vehicle because it’s easy to operate and comfortable.
DownsideIt’s not built to be a fast car, and some features are dated.

Patty Morato-Roa

Patty had an early career as a TV and print model. She was also immersed in the motoring world at a young age having spent her childhood around annual car shows. She has worked as an editorial assistant, and dabbles in photography as well. She’s a wife of an avid motorcycle rider and a mom of two.