Nissan Leaf Review: 2009 Model | Leaf | Car Buyers Guide

2009 Nissan Leaf Review

General Motors must be kicking itself. Over a decade ago, it had a highly advanced electric car, the EV1 on its hands. It leased over 1,000 examples of the experimental model to customers in California over a three-year period, and they liked it so much that GM had to practically pry the cars from their hands to get them back. It should have paid attention, but instead it went back to producing the highly profitable behemoth SUVs that sold like hot cakes in the heady days of the early Noughties. Two Middle Eastern wars and one credit crunch later, and suddenly the electric car has been catapulted back into relevance. GM hasn’t totally dragged its heels – it’s currently deep in the development of the Volt electric car – but thanks to its short-sightedness it has now, once again, been beaten to the punch by the Japanese. Nissan, to be specific, which has just announced details of the LEAF zero-emissions vehicle that should be gliding silently around American, European and Asian cities in just over a year’s time.     

Nissan describes the LEAF as ‘the world’s first electric car designed for affordability and real-world requirements’ – subtle digs at the celebrity-baiting Tesla Roadster and overgrown roller skates like the G-Wiz, perhaps? The car is a suitably futuristic-looking, five-seat, mid-size hatchback powered by a brace of lithium-ion batteries that give it a top speed of 140km/h and a maximum range of 160 kilometres, aided by a regenerative braking system. There’s no word on prices yet, but Nissan is promising that the LEAF will be competitive with the likes of the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Opel Astra, and it will also benefit from the significant tax breaks for electric vehicles that exist in most countries.

Nissan has also taken proactive steps to ensure that the infrastructure necessary for the LEAF to be a practical everyday car will be put in place. Together with its parent company Renault, it has formed partnerships with countries such as the UK and Portugal, as well as local governments in Japan and the US, in order to develop a comprehensive charging infrastructure through public and private investment; secure incentives and subsidies for electric cars from local, regional, and national governments; and initiate public education programmes on the individual and societal benefits of zero-emissions mobility.

Engine: The LEAF is powered by compact lithium-ion batteries, which generate a power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW. Nissan says this drivetrain delivers the fun and responsive driving experience that consumers have come to expect from traditional, petrol-powered cars.

Power socket (located under the Nissan badge on the car’s nose): The LEAF can be charged up to 80 percent of its capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. Charging at home through a 200V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours, however.

Headlights: As well as looking pretty funky, the LEAF’s LED headlights split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag. They also consume about 50 percent of the electricity that conventional lights do, which helps the LEAF to extend its range. Clever!

Windows: The LEAF features an exclusive and advanced on-board IT system. Connected to a global data centre, it can provide support, information and entertainment for the car’s occupants 24 hours a day.

Read all of our Nissan reviews here.
See all used Nissan cars for sale on Car Buyers Guide here.

Compare specs to an alternative car!
€ 23,990 when New

Key Facts

New Price
€ 23,990


First Launched
Engine & Transmission
Fuel type
Body Type

Running Costs

Tax Band
Average L/100km
Fuel Tank Range (km)
Emission Standard EU


Driven Wheels
Break Horsepower
Top Speed
Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

Space & Practicality

Boot capacity (L)
Tyre Size Back
205/55 R16


Euro NCAP Star Rating

Nissan Leaf (2012)


This is one of the best EVs available to the Irish market. It’s very practical and the range is ever-improving.


The Leaf is not the most attractive vehicle on the road.

Our Rating 3/5
  • Performance
  • Ride & Handling
  • Refinement
  • Quality & Reliability
  • Safety & Security
  • Space & Practicality
  • Verdict

The Nissan Leaf has been around since 2010. This car is probably the best known electric vehicle in Ireland and it has played its part in the ESB marketing for EVs. The Leaf has recently received a huge update and it is starting to improve in the area that deters most potential customers – range anxiety. The new Leaf has a claimed reach of 250km and while this is very good, we wonder if it’ll be enough to attract some more early adapters to plug in.


If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle you will already be armed with the fact that if you put the foot to the floor you will receive instant torque. This is probably your ammunition for all of those naysayers out there. Unfortunately, instant torque is as thrilling as it gets in an electric vehicle because actually getting from 0-100 km/h can be achieved in 11.5 seconds. On-paper that figure isn’t too impressive but while driving around cities this machine is a nippy little car. We’re told that the maximum power of the engine is 80kW, which in conventional terms translates as 107 bhp. The maximum torque of the vehicle is 254Nm. Top speed according to Nissan is 144 km/h.

Ride & Handling

What is astonishing about the Leaf is how conventional this fully electric vehicle actually feels when you bring it onto the open road. If this car wasn’t silent and had the sounds of a conventional engine coming from under the hood the only thing that would give away the fact that it’s an electric vehicle is the instant delivery of torque when you put the foot down. On the open road it rides smoothly and when it comes to twists in the road it doesn’t throw up any major flaws. However, and this bring me back to range anxiety – it may deal with the motorway well in terms of drive, but if you drive at motorway speeds for a prolonged period the range drops faster than it should. People who do opt for an electric vehicle will know in advance that driving styles of potential owners must change to get the best possible range from their vehicles.


At this point we usually give out about the grumble of a diesel engine but because this vehicle is fully electric there is nothing that be complained about in terms of engine noise. The silence of the engine does allow you to hear road and wind noise, but even at that the noise is not what we would describe as overly intrusive.

Quality & Reliability

There is a fair amount of plastic on the dash of the Leaf but it isn’t cheap looking. The touch screen where you get all of the information about the vehicle looks dated and could do with some newer graphics.

Safety & Security

The Nissan Leaf scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP in 2012. For adult occupancy they scored 89%. The child occupancy result was very good too with the Leaf scoring 83%. This vehicle comes with six airbags, approaching vehicle sounds for pedestrians and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points.

Space & Practicality

Along with the very conventional looking Renault Fluence ZE, the Leaf is probably the most practical electric vehicle that is readily available to our markets. The boot offers 370 litres and four adults would fit in here without any discomfort. Both head and leg room is excellent.


Login to leave a comment

Login with Facebook Login with Twitter