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nv2Everybody knows electric cars are ideal city cars, so obviously the sensible test for Nissan’s new 7 seater EV was to head from our Northamptonshire base to North Wales with the kids for the weekend.nv4

200 miles each way should be fine shouldn’t it?

Well actually it was. The sumptuous comfort and magic-carpet ride had the kids dozing in the generous seats for much of the journey and my unhurried approach – pretending to be a lorry – made the journey a relaxed affair for me too.

The well populated charging network through the middle of the UK means the three stops for a top up heading North went without a hitch and, although North Wales is rather less generous with its charging infrastructure, there was never a problem with access to some free electrons here either.

The car itself is a wonderful thing. Being van-derived the suspension was a little bouncy over potholes and humps but sublime on decent roads. The feeling of space coupled with the excellent visibility and high seating position gave superb awareness at all times.

Driving in ECO β€œB” mode (the most efficient) and making use of cruise control on motorway sections meant runs of up to 70 miles between charging stops became the norm – given my penchant for coffee this tied in perfectly with the bladder – this may not have been in the design brief but it worked for me.nv6

Standard 7 seaters would ask you for Β£50+ worth of fuel for this weekend break but not the Evalia; pull up at a charging point, available in most service areas and many other locations, plug in, wave your free Ecotricity card and get lots of lovely free fuel from the greenest energy company in the UK.

Then go have a coffee.nv7

For sure stopping every 70 miles sounds like a bit of a pain, but if you are travelling with kids you would be lucky to get this far between stops anyway, and it is a bit outside the design intentions of the Evalia – its a school bus really. Which is probably why I did another 300 mile round trip into Kent and back a few days later…

My point is the car can do it, and with aplomb – the change is in your attitude rather than the vehicles perceived limitations.nv8

As a commuter there is not a fossil-fuelled car I have driven that fills this role better – even the motorbike doesn’t get the neighbours curtains twitching like the Evalia did. The seamless power delivery makes hill starts and busy roundabouts a stress-free joy and sitting in stop-go traffic does not kill your left leg as there is no clutch of course. Music sounds better too, as it is not competing with engine noise.

nv3While large parts of the vehicles components are taken from the Leaf, the infotainment system is not up to the current Leaf standards. It does offer useful driving statistics; a decent satnav and useful features – such as Nissan CarWings – are options on Acenta models and standard on the Tekna, but the unit is less intuitive and more fiddly to navigate than the latest generation device.

A few other areas of the car showed where the focus was on keeping the cost down – seating is offered in one colour for example, DAB is not an option and the rear seats are not easily removable like in most 7-seaters, but at Β£27k it is a big slab of Lithium-powered practicality with a service and support pack from Nissan that you just don’t get with any standard-fuel car.nv5

After 750 miles in one week there are few cars I have tested more thoroughly or more inappropriately, and fewer still that I have found so completely charming.

TECH SPEC

Range (NEDC) 106 miles

Electricity consumption 165 Wh/km

Acceleration (0 – 62 mph) 14 sec

Max speed 76 mph

words + pics – Mark Wolens