Just as Nissan’s Leaf hits its third generation, the company’s seven-seater MPV gets a makeover. The Evalia is based on a commercial platform, and it looks like it, but seven seats and electric propulsion could still be a winning combination, particularly as the range has been extensively upgraded.
It’s a big thing, 1.8m tall and more than 4.5m long, based on a vehicle over a decade old. The lines are sort of eye-catching, but this isn’t really a market sector where looks are paramount. What is of primary interest is the fact that the makeover hasn’t been all that extensive, so the 107bhp electric motor, for example, remains unchanged along with much else. However the better news is that the battery is the same size as it was but it has jumped from a 24kWh to a 40kWh job. That gives a 60 per cent improvement in battery range.
The result is something that takes off from rest with surprising vigour. You whirr forward, building speed remarkably quickly, but then that old graph line reasserts itself and the momentum tails off quickly once you’ve passed 50mph. It will battle up to 76mph but that will take a while and once there you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of noise wrought by the wind, that makes it sound like you’re struggling through a Force 10.
With a heavy battery down low, the handling isn’t bad, so you can slot it around roads and other traffic fairly easily, but the ride reveals the joys of leaf springs. Rear passengers in particular will get a slightly rough ride of it, with bumps and thumps pattering through to the cabin.