Nissan's new all-electric Leaf hatch is now on sale in Australia, priced, as revealed late last year, at $51,500.
On sale internationally since late 2010, the Leaf has been a long-time coming for Australian buyers, with only a lucky few taking part in the car's 2011 pilot programme.
The arrival of the Leaf marks a significant step forward for Nissan Australia, joining Mitsubishi - soon to be joined also by Holden and Renault - as one of the few global carmakers to offer an electric vehicle on the local market.
Nissan Australia boss Bill Peffer says the Leaf is just the first shot in the company's electric arsenal, describing its upcoming EV range as a "major part of Australia's zero emission future".
The company has partnered with energy company Origin as its preferred provider of charging services, which means that Leaf buyers will have the option of having Origin's charging equipment installed in their garage.
The Leaf is powered by an electric motor that produces 80kW and 280Nm of torque - that's more torque than the 2.5 litre six-cylinder petrol engine in Nissan's Maxima 250 offers.
Maximum speed is around 140km/h. There's a driving range of up to 170 kilometres, and a full battery charge will take around eight hours. The Leaf, however, can regain up to 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
Energy for the electric motor is drawn from a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack, comprised of 48 compact modules designed to accommodate flexible installation and greater weight distribution, while offering greater storage space for buyers.
The Leaf features independent strut suspension with a stabiliser bar in front, and, at the rear, a torsion beam arrangement with an integrated stabiliser bar.
Steering is controlled by a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system, and braking is managed by power-assisted front vented disc and solid rear disc brakes.
The braking system also features regenerative braking technology, feeding more energy to the battery pack and contributing to the car's driving range.
Built on an all-new dedicated EV platform, the Leaf measures 4445 mm long, 1770 mm wide and 1550 mm tall. The car sits on a 2700 mm wheelbase, and its kerb weight is listed at 1534kg.
Interior dimensions (front/rear mm)
- Head room - 105/95
- Leg room - 107/79
- Hip room - 130/127
- Shoulder room - 138/133
- Knee room - 60
Rear storage capacity is listed at 410 litres with the 60/40 split-folding seats upright, an 680 litres with the seats laid flat.
Standard features include a seven-inch multi-information display, satellite navigation, rear-view camera, aux/USB/iPod connectivity and steering-mounted controls.
There is also push-button start, climate control, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, chrome door handles, aerodynamic external mirrors and five-spoke 16-inch aluminium-alloy wheels.
The seat fabric is made with partially recycled materials. Recycled materials are also used for the back door trim, roof trim and headliner, carpeting and a number of other interior pieces such as the door panels and centre console storage cover.
The Leaf also features a system that can determine if the vehicle is carrying enough charge to reach the intended destination (based on satellite navigation input), instantly searching for nearby charging stations.
The on-board computer will also sync-up with a smart phone. This enables the charging state to be monitored and started/stopped remotely, as well as allowing the air-conditioning system to be fired-up before the driver enters the car.
Standard safety features include electronic stability control (Vehicle Dynamic Control), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).
Airbags include dual front airbags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted airbags and roof-mounted curtain airbags for the front and rear seats.
The Leaf has yet to be given a crash safety rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, but its Euro NCAP sister organisation has awared the car a five-star rating.
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