Adam Workman / The National
Adam Workman / The National

Test drive: 2018 Nissan Leaf



The UAE is fast catching up with early adopters of electric vehicles around the world, such as the United States, which is where I am test driving Nissan's new second-generation Leaf ahead of the model arriving in the Emirates this year.

It will make its debut against a background of the Japanese car maker becoming an official automotive partner for Expo 2020, a move that will see the Leaf feature in a fleet of about 1,000 cars provided for the event.

The Leaf is itself playing catch-up with fully-electric rivals. The latest Renault Zoe has a quoted range of more than 300 kilometres; Tesla is leaving almost everybody else in its dust with its seemingly ever-increasing figures. And Nissan has responded by extending its expectations to about 240 kilometres, up from the previous model year's relatively paltry total of about 170km.

On American soil, those claims don't seem to have fallen foul of the proneness of certain competitors to exaggerate, proved by a drive from Las Vegas, where the Leaf has been on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, towards the spectacular scenery of Red Rock Canyon in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, about 20 minutes outside the city. While the dashboard displays a rapidly dipping number on the outbound journey, which is partly uphill, requiring more energy, the return leg actually takes less kilometres out of the range than we travel in total. How so?

The answer is the “e-Pedal” feature, which in a nutshell turns the accelerator into a secondary brake. After e-Pedal is engaged from a switch next to the computer-mouse gearstick, when you lift off the accelerator, the car will automatically slow, depending on how you feather the throttle, with the result being smart deceleration. That friction contributes to regenerative braking that replenishes battery power. Traditionalists will be glad to know that there is still a regular brake pedal for harder, faster halts.

The e-Pedal function combines with Nissan's other headline innovation: level 2 autonomous technology entitled ProPilot. Essentially, it is a combination of lane-keeping assist and adaptive/intelligent cruise control – both features that are far from new in cars across the board. But on well-marked motorways, the integration means that you can actually temporarily remove your hands from the wheel (although Nissan don't recommend that, per se) as the car navigates its way round gentle curves and stays in lane. In traffic, it melds together to more or less form an automatic crawl function without the use of accelerator or brake pedals, which will certainly spare the tired legs of commuters.

There are glitches: apparently anything above intermittent windscreen-wiper action can throw off the ProPilot's sensors; standing water or anything covering road markings can do similar damage; and during my drive, junctions and areas of widened road seem to momentarily confuse the car. Rather than veering off into a canyon in such events, thankfully, the Leaf merely bleeps and a dash message politely informs you to resume manual steering. If you take your hands off the wheel for more than about a minute and fail to heed subsequent gentle braking warnings, meanwhile, the car will assume that you have fallen asleep or suffered a medical problem, which triggers an emergency response to bring you to a standstill. The next stage in Nissan's research might be to develop an autonomous system to pull the car safely on to the hard shoulder, because presently the end result could potentially be a sudden stop in the fast lane – something that could conceivably prove just as lethal as the scenarios the car is built to anticipate.

Charging times are about standard for this segment, although if you can locate a quick-charging station, Nissan claims that you can get to 80 per cent juice from empty in about 40 minutes. It still doesn't cost pocket change compared to similar-sized petrol cars, with its starting price on the wrong side of Dh100,000, but the newbie is due to be slightly cheaper than the outgoing model, which is no mean feat considering the additional tech that it boasts.

With more than 250 kilograms of battery mounted beneath the floor of the passenger cabin, though, the Leaf's low centre of gravity will handle better than most fossil-fuel peers, with its perky 147hp giving it a little punch through corners, aided by the e-Pedal. The Leaf hasn't changed the course of EV history here, but it is without doubt a welcome addition to the green motoring options in the UAE.

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FIXTURES

Thu Mar 15 – West Indies v Afghanistan, UAE v Scotland
Fri Mar 16 – Ireland v Zimbabwe
Sun Mar 18 – Ireland v Scotland
Mon Mar 19 – West Indies v Zimbabwe
Tue Mar 20 – UAE v Afghanistan
Wed Mar 21 – West Indies v Scotland
Thu Mar 22 – UAE v Zimbabwe
Fri Mar 23 – Ireland v Afghanistan

The top two teams qualify for the World Cup

Classification matches 
The top-placed side out of Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong or Nepal will be granted one-day international status. UAE and Scotland have already won ODI status, having qualified for the Super Six.

Thu Mar 15 – Netherlands v Hong Kong, PNG v Nepal
Sat Mar 17 – 7th-8th place playoff, 9th-10th place play-off

UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
WORLD CUP FINAL

England v South Africa

Yokohama International Stadium, Tokyo

Saturday, kick-off 1pm (UAE)

BELGIUM SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Leander Dendoncker, Zeno Debast, Arthur Theate, Wout Faes

Midfielders: Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard, Timothy Castagne, Thomas Meunier

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Loïs Openda, Charles De Ketelaere, Eden Hazard, Jeremy Doku, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard

MATCH INFO

Inter Milan v Juventus
Saturday, 10.45pm (UAE)
Watch the match on BeIN Sports

The Uefa Awards winners

Uefa Men's Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Uefa Women's Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze (Lyon)

Best players of the 2018/19 Uefa Champions League

Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool)

Defender: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Midfielder: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax)

Forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Uefa President's Award: Eric Cantona

Arctic Monkeys

Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino (Domino) 

 

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Zodi & Tehu: Princes Of The Desert

Director: Eric Barbier

Starring: Youssef Hajdi, Nadia Benzakour, Yasser Drief

Rating: 4/5

Results

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,000mm, Winners: Mumayaza, Fabrice Veron (jockey), Eric Lemartinel (trainer)

5.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m, Winners: Sharkh, Pat Cosgrave, Helal Al Alawi

6pm: The President’s Cup Prep - Conditions (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: Somoud, Richard Mullen, Jean de Roualle

6.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh90,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Harrab, Ryan Curatolo, Jean de Roualle

7pm: Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup - Prestige (PA) Dh125,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Hameem, Adrie de Vries, Abdallah Al Hammadi

7.30pm: Al Ruwais – Group 3 (PA) Dh300,000 (T) 1,200m, Winner: AF Alwajel, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

8pm: Maiden (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m, Winner: Nibras Passion, Bernardo Pinheiro, Ismail Mohammed

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5


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