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Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe test

Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe with a large battery pack in the test

Two classics on the European market for e-cars have once again been heavily revised for the current model year. On the one hand, there is the Renault Zoe ZE 135 in the small car segment, which this year will compete with the revised e-Up and the Opel Corsa-e. On the other hand, the Nissan Leaf e + is the direct competitor to the new VW ID.3 in the compact car class. In summer, the two Stromers can easily cover over 300 kilometers. With the last price cuts from May 2020, both cars offer a significantly improved price-performance ratio. We looked at the details in the summer of 2020 and tested some interesting aspects for use on long journeys.

With the current battery pack with 62 kW battery, the range for the Nissan Leaf is 385 km for the combined route according to WLTP information. We deliberately used the long distances for commuters and vacationers. The routes are varied, with long sections of autobahn with a top speed of 120 km / h, as well as short rural routes and urban traffic. In addition to the extensive Tekna equipment, the test car is also equipped with the ProPilot automatic parking system. With extensive assistance systems and activated e-pedals, you can go straight to the first long-distance test in ECO mode in warm summer conditions.

Long distance test in summer

Renault Zoe - Nissan Leaf comparison loading sills
Renault Zoe - Nissan Leaf comparison loading sills

Acceleration and overtaking maneuvers are much more agile than with the old model. The maximum speed is specified as 157 km / h, from 100 km / h the power consumption increases significantly. But at least you can now drive noticeably more relaxed on the motorway. In the test car, the speed can easily be increased to up to 170 km / h. In sport mode, overtaking maneuvers are quicker than with comparable petrol engines.

With a fully charged battery, we start our way towards Hamburg on the A7 motorway. The ProPilot assistance package is optionally available in the new Leaf; it is standard equipment from the N-Connecta equipment line onwards. The decisive feature on the autobahn is the adaptive cruise control. With the help of the radar at the front of the vehicle, the Leaf keeps the distance to the vehicle in front constant and takes over the braking and acceleration processes up to the set maximum speed.

The first section - starting from Kiel - we drive without cruise control to Hamburg, then we test the cruise control extensively in the direction of Bremen. The first activation takes place via the steering wheel with the blue symbol on one of the buttons, then the speed is set with the set button and the system takes over the speed control. While driving, two rocker switches in the control panel on the steering wheel adjust to the maximum speed. The silhouettes of the vehicles ahead are reliably recorded as soon as they cover most of the lane. If vehicles cut in for a short time in ongoing traffic, the system can be deactivated again with your own braking maneuvers. If the slow-moving traffic turns into a traffic jam, the vehicle automatically brakes to a standstill. In the event of a temporary standstill of up to three seconds, the car then starts rolling again automatically. If it takes longer, a quick step on the accelerator is enough to reactivate the system.

B-mode in the Zoe

With the smaller Zoe you sit a little higher with a very good overview. Upon delivery, the battery shows 100% charge and a range of 400 kilometers. As with the Leaf, these values ​​will hardly be achieved in practice. Here, too, there is an ECO mode coupled with the B mode to achieve the maximum range. The mode realizes stronger recuperation and automated braking maneuvers as soon as the foot takes the pressure off the power pedal. We take the identical route to the Elbe tunnel and can still achieve a remaining range of 200 kilometers in defensive B mode.

The speed settings are limited to the speed limit and the cruise control to determine the driving speed. It is activated via the multifunction steering wheel on the left-hand side by pressing a button. Without adaptive cruise control, however, you have to independently ensure that there is sufficient distance to the person in front of you. A blind spot warning is part of the equipment and is a relief factor for safe long-haul journeys.

More dynamics without ECO mode in the Leaf and Zoe

At an outside temperature of 25 degrees, the battery in Hamburg in the Elbe tunnel showed a range of a good 250 kilometers. Behind the Elbe tunnel, on the way to Bremen on the A1, we switch to sport mode, but the consumption tends to jump to 20 to 25 kWh per 100 kilometers. In the end, after a good 220 kilometers, we still have a remaining range of 80 kilometers on the display. So business appointments within a radius of up to 250 kilometers can be held quickly at milder temperatures if a quick charging station can be planned for the return journey at the destination.

The Nissan Leaf scores with the larger battery pack with a capacity of 62 kWh. This ensures sufficient range for commuters and medium-haul routes. The batteries are stowed in the underbody and thus ensure a very low center of gravity, which has a positive effect on the driving and rolling characteristics of the car. Not only technically, but also optically, the Leaf offers a revised and more contemporary appearance. The Leaf is now 4,49 meters long, 1,78 meters wide and 1,61 meters high, and looks more attractive and dynamic than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase of 2,70 meters now offers good space and 420 liters of luggage can be carried behind the tailgate. It is classified as a compact car in the NCAP safety test and was rated with full 2018 stars in various test scenarios in 5.

Driving modes in comparison

With the Zoe, a new selector lever in the center console can be used to switch comfortably between dynamic D mode and B recuperation mode while driving. The redesigned center console with a large, high-resolution display is now more ergonomic than in the previous model. All functions can be called up via the touchscreen and can also be easily set while driving. Underneath there is a practical division with shelves of different sizes and an easily accessible charging compartment for the smartphone. And behind, of course, two drink holders for the driver and front passenger.

In drive mode, overtaking maneuvers on the motorway can be started and completed more quickly. The top speed is electronically limited to 140 km / h, but that's enough for relaxed driving on the motorways, as most of the route is equipped with speed limits. A traffic sign recognition is on board and continuously shows the current speed limit in the traffic in the central cockpit. If the limit is exceeded, the traffic sign is animated accordingly. At the end of the route on the A1, we still have 50 kilometers remaining on the display. The two trips were not identical in terms of traffic density, but it can be said that both cars can also be used well on the medium-haul routes between spring and autumn.

Assistance systems for relaxed driving

Another feature of the Nissan Leaf is the steering assistant for constant lane keeping in the middle of the lane. The front camera provides the starting material for the automated control. At the same time, however, it is also checked whether the driver can intervene while keeping his hands on the wheel.
If you let go of the steering wheel, a warning signal sounds first, then the Leaf brakes the vehicle to a standstill without any intervention by the driver and warns the following traffic with the hazard warning lights switched on. These assistants also include the high beam and blind spot assist, hill start assist, cross traffic warning, traffic sign recognition and an emergency brake assist with pedestrian recognition. Finally, by means of the integrated camera system and the ultrasonic sensors, a free parking space can be determined and parked automatically. The system can be switched on at the push of a button and the ProPilot takes over all maneuvering processes until the car is in the parking space.

The more compact Zoe also has an extensive package of driving aids in the Intens equipment we tested. In addition to the blind spot warning system presented, the reversing camera, the lane departure warning system and the acoustic parking aids in particular are plus points on the way to daily work. A traffic sign recognition and a cruise control complete the package. The tinted windows for the rear seat and the rear window are also practical. An anti-reflective windshield is desirable for the future.

Two different charging connections

The Leaf continues to rely on the CHAdeMO fast charging connection. In the meantime, almost all of the rest areas on the motorways nationwide have been equipped with fast charging stations. The advantage of the four charging stations per charging station lies in the different charging connections. The charging times with the CHAdeMO connection with 50 kW direct current is currently the fastest charging option for the Leaf. We are still at 20% remaining capacity at the start of charging and summer outside temperatures.

The Zoe has the CCS charging connection, which is now more widespread in Germany, but is only available for a hefty surcharge of 1.090 euros. The charging process with direct current can then take place quickly with 50 kW. With the air-cooled 50 kWh battery you can reach up to 80% of the charging capacity in about half an hour. For a new car, this should definitely be ordered as an accessory.

If you are traveling in regions without fast charging stations and want to charge as flexibly as possible, you can use the JUICE BOOSTER 2. With this flexible system, users are able to charge automatically, correctly and safely as quickly as possible, regardless of the power connection. In mobile use, it secures the charging process, especially in the leisure area such as camping, in rural regions or in holiday home regions. The booster covers all relevant power connections and enables relaxed travel.

Renault Zoe cockpit
Renault Zoe cockpit

A look at the center console in the Zoe and Leaf

The approximately 8-inch, non-high-resolution display is installed in the center console. After the start, the safety regulations must be confirmed each time via touch control. Audio systems, hands-free equipment, vehicle features and navigation systems can be controlled from here. The Bose audio system, in conjunction with the DAB car radio, delivers an appealing and rich sound.

The hands-free system, coupled with your own smartphone, is very reliable and easy to use. The navigation system can still be expanded. For example, if you want to be even more differentiated in the area of ​​navigation, you can switch to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and couple the display with your smartphone. Maps from Apple or Google Maps work much more quickly and navigate around the traffic jam. On the other hand, this naturally costs the corresponding data volume. The more sophisticated voice guidance in these systems is more practical while driving. The manufacturer's own Nissan Connect EV app is also easy to use. The available ranges can also be checked here at any time.

Nissan Leaf cockpit
Nissan Leaf cockpit

Infotainment monitors

Below the screen, the complete control of the air conditioning and heating is well sorted on the control buttons. Below you will find the practical storage compartment for the smartphone including USB access. There are two storage recesses behind the automatic selector lever for drinks. There are additional storage compartments on the doors.

The Zoe's cockpit looks tidier. The high-resolution monitor sits enthroned on the center console and can be controlled intuitively using touch controls. The camera images when pulling out of a parking space also show a high resolution. Overall, the operation seems smoother and easier to control the various menu items.


The Leaf in the compact class as the e + variant has noticeably improved with the larger battery pack and the more powerful motor, especially in terms of driving dynamics. The possible uses are expanding significantly, city traffic, land traffic and motorway journeys can be dealt with quickly. Range and driving style can be individually adjusted with the different driving modes. With a good 340 Newton meters of torque, driving dynamics and overtaking maneuvers are far superior to comparable gasoline engines in the compact class.

More articles on Nissan - click here

The smaller Renault Zoe has a good price-performance ratio with the new price list from May 2020. The starting price for the model with 40 kWh battery is 21.900 euros without battery. In addition, there is the battery rental, which is between 74 and 124 euros per month. The strengths lie above all in a very smartly designed cockpit, a good range of over 300 kilometers in summer and fast charging via the optional CCS charging system.

More articles on Renault - click here.


Test from summer 2020

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