It’s time I took a few moments from studying the details of the VW engine management debacle to tell the world about my new LEAF. The lease had expired on the old one and thanks to the quirks of residual value calculations it proved better value to swap it for a new car than to buy it. Sounds easy, until you realise that six companies are involved: Nissan, Fleetdrive Electric, Benfield (the dealer), RCI Finance, Manheim (the collection company) and a delivery firm.
I’d heard some horror stories about additional charges for minor damage on return, so it was with some trepidation that I met Manheim’s inspector in the office car park. I needn’t have worried; he was delighted with the condition of the car and gave it a clean bill of health. I felt like a proud father! That result meant I would only have to pay for the excess mileage – in 18 months we had covered 24,500 miles rather than 15,000 so I knew I was in for a bill of £950. To be honest I didn’t begrudge it; even at 10p per mile it was cheaper to drive the LEAF than to put petrol in our other car.
Chris Brown at Benfield’s worked his magic to co-ordinate delivery and collection on the same day, so on 11 September I drove to work in a blue car and went home in a red one. I felt slightly peeved that the previous day had seen the long-awaited announcement of the 30KWh LEAF with 25% extra range, but in reality the 80-90 mile range of the current model works fine for our daily usage.
It’s something of a tribute to the LEAF that the new car drives exactly like the old one – you won’t usually find two petrol cars of the same model that are indistinguishable behind the wheel. Of the extra toys on the Tekna I could do without most, but the leather upholstery is a substantial improvement over the ‘brushed nylon’ effect of the standard seats and is probably worth the difference in price. Add to that the pimped wheels, marginally better sound and the four outside cameras and you have yourself a decent deal. Maybe the heated seats and wheel will come in handy in the winter. The headlights are a mixed bag: the LED dipped beam is great but the main beam adds just a faint halogen glow in the distance and really isn’t good enough. See, I’m never satisfied!