As in previous years, the front-wheel drive LEAF uses a dedicated Nissan EV platform with batteries housed in the floor for optimum vehicle packaging and weight distribution. The body design includes a rigid-mounted battery frame, which helps provide greater body rigidity compared to a conventional compact car.
Nissan LEAF rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a 175.0-inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height. LEAF provides room for five adults and 24 cubic feet of cargo space. Placing the batteries in the floor of the vehicle provides optimum weight distribution to help enhance handling and allows for five-passenger seating by not intruding into the cabin space.
The 2016 Nissan LEAF offers a number of charging options. A charge port is located in the front body for the 240V charger and portable trickle-charge cable (110V). A charge port light and lock are standard. The available Quick Charge Port (standard on SV and SL, optional on S) allows charging to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes at public charging stations using a CHAdeMO fast charger. There is also a standard photovoltaic solar panel spoiler on SL models, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for vehicle accessories.
Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine, LEAF has virtually 100 percent of its torque available from start, delivering smooth, consistent acceleration and driving feel similar to a conventional V6 engine. Smooth ride and handling are provided through use of an independent strut suspension with stabilizer bar in front and a torsion beam rear suspension with integrated stabilizer bar. Nissan LEAF utilizes a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system, while responsive braking is provided by power-assisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.
The standard regenerative braking system in LEAF helps increase range. By applying the brakes or reducing speed by letting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. The "B-mode" (standard on all grades) allows the driver to engage an even more aggressive level of regenerative braking while decelerating, such as when going down hills. B-mode is offered in addition to the normal and Eco drive modes.
Because Nissan LEAF does not have an internal combustion engine, Nissan has incorporated an "Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians" system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching.
When driving at low speeds, the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle's speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the "approaching sound" automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again.