Electric Cars Reviewed

Can we convert an old-school petrolhead to EVs?

EV Powered’s editor, Charlie Atkinson, puts his dad, Paul, behind the wheel of an EV for the first time to see if he can convert him over to an electric vehicle.

Before the drive…

What are your thoughts on electric vehicles?

I’ve never really been convinced. I love my cars; I grew up driving all sorts of classic cars, such as MK1 Escort’s, so I have a real passion for cars. I know the world is going electric, but I do have some concerns. You hear these horror stories of people running out of power or having to sit and charge for hours on end and it doesn’t appeal to me. I did test drive a Volkswagen ID.3 for a few minutes before and it was a strange experience. I found it very plastic-y, not very comfortable and not very welcoming as a car.

What do you drive now?

I have a 2L Volkswagen Tiguan, I call it the Volkswagen Tank because it’s just bombproof. I know it’s a bit boring, but it can do about 600 miles off a full tank and there’s plenty of room in the back for my dogs. That’s all I need it for, really. It does the job.

We have a top-of-the-range Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna for you today. What do you think?

I like it. I think it’s a good-looking car. It looks really sport, not too big but not too small, either. The alloy wheels are nice and I like the black and silver two tone colouring. The rear tailgate has a little spoiler, and the front is quite impressive, too.

Some electric vehicles look a bit bland but the front spoiler looks decent. I could see myself driving it. The interior is nice as well, nice and spacious and I like the fact that it’s got the traditional speedometer. I wouldn’t get on with one of the giant iPad-style infotainment screens that a lot of the EVs have, so the size of this one is fine. It’s all very ergonomic, and it’s got everything I’d need.

There’s plenty of headroom in the back but there’s not a great deal of legroom. That’s not too important for me, however, as I’m usually the only one in my car and I’ll never be in the back, so that doesn’t matter too much. The boot is a decent size, although I wouldn’t be able to fit the cages for my dogs in the back because of the lip. Again, that’s not too important as they’re only small and I can just put a liner in there and take the parcel shelf out. There’s plenty of room, so that’s another box ticked.

In the car…

What’s it like driving an electric vehicle?

Really good, it’s nice and smooth and the pick-up is great. We had a couple of moments where I could quickly nip into a space at a roundabout or at a junction, so that instant power is really good; I’d have had to sit and wait in my Tiguan. I was really impressed with the regenerative braking, too. It’s great to be able to put your left foot out of the way and rely on that one pedal driving. It’s really good for driving as well, especially down the country roads near where I live. It’s not always about just going from A to B; I like driving and the regen braking lets you control your acceleration so much better, so I enjoyed that.

Thinking about it, the range wouldn’t be an issue. I drive eight miles to and from work three days a week. Maybe once or twice a week I drive to the train station to go to the football, and then a few other trips here and there, so I’d only need to charge once a week maximum. I have a driveway so I’d be able to charge at home too, so it’d be cheaper to run. I’ve always used the example that if I needed to drive to Scotland, I could do that in one trip in my Tiguan, whereas I’d perhaps need to stop and charge twice in this Leaf. I know that you should probably stop a couple of times on a long journey like that, but if I wanted to do it in one go then I could. However, in the thirty-odd years I’ve lived in Northampton, I’ve still never been to Scotland, so it’s a bit of a pointless argument, really.

I have to say, I have been really impressed with this. At £36,000, I could afford this car, and I would have one of these (Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna), to be honest with you. I’m due to change my car in a few months, so I’ll definitely be looking at an electric car. Something like this would do me just fine.

Final verdict…

It’s good, it did take some getting used to but when you do get used to all the different things like the weird little gear selector and the actual silence of it, it’s quite impressive. I love the speed of it and the acceleration, but what impressed me the most was the driving experience.

Is your future electric?

I think so, yes. I’m going to seriously look at it. My car is due for changing in the next six months. I know the used car market for petrol and diesel is really struggling at the moment, and I was considering a new car. When I’ve looked at electric cars before, I have been put off by the price, but £36,000 for this car is very doable. This would suit me, the range and everything about it would suit me. There’s a very good chance that in the next six months you’ll see me knocking about in a brand-new Nissan Leaf, or another electric car of some kind.

Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna Fact Sheet

Price: £36,445

Range: 239 miles (319 City Driving Cycle)

Power: 217PS and 340Nm of torque

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds

Max speed: 98mph

Battery Charging (50kW Rapid Charger) from 20% to 80%: 90min

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