Nissan’s second-generation Leaf is almost but not quite 100% new. If we were looking at a living creature rather than a car, we might say that the skin, muscles and internal organs have all been replaced but the skeleton remains the same. As a result the new Leaf is more powerful, lasts longer between charges, looks a lot different, but retains the same basic size and shape as before.
The exterior design is a lot crisper and less duck-billed than the old version, but the new Leaf remains a little awkward looking from some angles. A complete redesign would probably have done more to alleviate the car’s heavy look around the rear haunches. The visual refresh does bring the Leaf neatly into line with the rest of the Nissan range, however, where it now resembles a bigger version of the sharply styled Micra supermini.
Of course outward appearances are a lot less relevant than inner strength in an electric car. Most importantly, Nissan has squeezed 40kWh of electrical storage into the new Leaf without changing the volume or shape of its lithium-ion battery. The old Leaf was launched in 2011 with a 24kWh battery and an optional 30kWh upgrade arrived in February 2016, so the new car has moved energy storage along by a reasonably big step.