Nissan LEAF first drive

The Nissan LEAF is the automaker’s first electric vehicle (EV) entry into the local automotive market. With its addition to the local Nissan lineup, the brand wants to get ahead of the coming electric vehicle craze in the country. The EV offers more than just a clean mode of transportation as it also comes with a few key features that make it easier to drive, safe, and convenient to use as well.

We were fortunate enough to be allowed to test drive the LEAF by Nissan Philippines in a special location as part of the brand’s Safe Trips partnership with the Department of Tourism in the island of Boracay.

With that said, we go a little further and explain to you just how good this new electric vehicle is in our short drive. These are our first impressions of the 2022 Nissan LEAF in the Philippines. 

Nissan LEAF exterior

On the outside, the Nissan LEAF comes with a straightforward design. You get the V-motion design language evident on the front fascia of the vehicle that extends onto the hood and to the rest of the vehicle. For the Philippine market, the EV gets halogen projector headlights paired with LED daytime running lights and fog lights found on the lower bumper.

Moving on to the side and the leaf comes with an upswept beltline that extends to the rear of the vehicle along with blacked-out C-pillars to give the electric hatchback a floating roof look. 

At the rear, the hatchback comes with a more angular look with large L-shaped LED taillights that extends to the blacked-out C-pillars of the vehicle. It also comes with a rear bumper that is chiseled yet sleek giving it a more aerodynamic look at the back. It also comes with a blue accent piece found on the lower diffuser of the vehicle giving you a subtle hint that this is an EV and not your ordinary gasoline or diesel-powered hatchback.

Nissan LEAF interior

Stepping into the cabin of the Nissan LEAF you will find a simple interior layout. The EV comes with a dual-layer dashboard with soft-touch materials found in key locations along with durable plastics in high-touch areas. It comes with Nissan’s flat-bottom steering wheel that can be found in its other models such as the Navara and Terra. As the LEAF is an electric vehicle, it comes with a special gauge cluster that displays your speed along with how much power you are using and if you are recharging the batteries. It also displays your range along with what gear you are in and if you are in e-pedal mode.

Nissan LEAF infotainment system

In terms of technology that Nissan LEAF comes with an 8-inch advanced touchscreen display that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. While this isn’t groundbreaking, its ace in the hole is its e-pedal system that lets you drive the hatchback with just your right foot.

Aside from this, the LEAF also comes with the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of features. This gives the electrified hatchback access to Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Trace Control, and Lane Departure Warning and Intelligent Lane Intervention just to name a few. It also comes with the vehicle to X feature which lets you utilize its battery pack to power other large devices that require a plug to run. 

Nissan LEAF side profile Philippines

Driving the Nissan LEAF EV is just as easy as driving a normal internal combustion engine vehicle. The throttle is responsive but the brakes can be a little bit aggressive especially if the regenerative braking activates aside from this it handles like any other hatchback within its segment. It delivers a smooth pliant ride with great NVH as well. Since there is no engine, all you will hear is tire noise and wind noise at speeds over 100km/h which is normal. Speaking of speed, the LEAF can accelerate pretty quickly thanks to its instantaneous torque via its electric motor. Expect the hatchback to rocket you up to highway speeds in near silence as there is no combustion engine to make any noise.

When it comes to utilizing the e-pedal feature of the Nissan LEAF, this comes with a bit of a learning curve especially if you are coming from an automatic vehicle. The best way to describe driving the LEAF with the e-pedal feature on is by comparing it to a manual transmission vehicle that is in first gear all the time. The moment you let off the accelerator pedal the hatchback begins to do regenerative braking which will quickly bring it to a stop if you let off completely. With that said, you will need to train yourself to always push down on the accelerator pedal just a little bit to modulate your braking. It sounds counterintuitive, but once you get the hang of it, driving with just one pedal becomes easy and almost second nature. Don’t worry as the brakes will still function even if you are in its e-pedal mode if you want more stopping power from the hatchback.

Nissan LEAF rear quarter exterior

The Nissan LEAF is priced at P2,798,000 which can be a steep ask especially if you are comparing it to other non-electric vehicles. However, the best way to think about it is an early adopters tax. In the same way, the Apple iPhone revolutionized the smartphone market, the Nissan LEAF wants to do the same with the electric vehicle segment in the Philippines. Nissan is also ready and willing to help build up the local electric vehicle infrastructure in the country starting with its dealerships and other select locations to make charging your LEAF much easier. The automaker will also even install a personal charger in your home to make it easier for your to charge your LEAF in a couple of hours. Conversely, you can also charge the LEAF with a standard 220V outlet, however, this will take more time to do so. With that said, while some may not see the appeal of an electric vehicle immediately, these vehicles will soon prove their worth over time especially with the Nissan LEAF as it can also be used as an emergency source of power.

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