A 60 kilowatt-hour battery is expected when a new Nissan Leaf electric car arrives next year, and now a hint has been dropped that a performance version could also be coming.
While speaking with Britain’s Car Magazine about an upcoming performance electric vehicle, Gareth Dunsmore, director of EV Nissan Europe hinted at more performance by saying, that the Leaf NISMO RC Concept “shows where the [Leaf’s] spirit could go.”
Dunsmore was referring to the 2011 Leaf race car concept (above photo). NISMO is Nissan’s performance tuning division and RC stands for “Racing Challenge.”
“In Japan we have a special-edition Leaf called the Leaf Aero Style, which is a more sporty package,” Dunsmore said. “One thing we certainly need to do is challenge perceptions and that’s also what Bladeglider is here to do — to challenge those perceptions.”
The Bladglider is an all-new 268-horsepower EV prototype unveiled at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro two weeks ago that demonstrates Nissan’s lean towards a high-performance electric car.
Should the new Leaf receive a NISMO treatment it won’t be close to the NISMO RC concept race car.
The concept racer features a carbon-fiber body with removable front and rear sections and the fenders were filled with 18-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped with Bridgestone racing tires.
NISMO retained the standard Leaf’s lithium-ion battery pack and 80-kilowatt AC synchronous motor, but moved them amidships and directed power to rear wheels instead of the fronts.
With a zero-to-62 mph time of 6.9 seconds, it’s not amazingly quick. but is significantly quicker than the 10 seconds of the conventional Leaf.
Dunsmore said that Nissan’s EVs were already quite sporty, with their electric takeoff and maximum torque from standstill.
“If you jumped into a Nissan Leaf and you’d never driven an electric vehicle before, I would challenge anyone to get out and say the car doesn’t have a sporty feel to it. The second you touch the accelerator, the instant torque and smoothness of acceleration, that is exciting, and well-suited to link up with things like Nismo.”
But if Nissan wants to build a performance Leaf it needs to upgrade the handling, which could include tightening the suspension, lowering the car and adding performance tires along with NISMO aerodynamic body add-ons. The bigger battery could also support a bigger motor, and then they might really have something.
A sporty NISMO tuned Leaf won’t be a top seller, but it could go a long way in building excitement for electric cars.