This is the new Leaf Nismo RC, a competition concept using the Leaf's EV drivetrain which will debut at the 2011 New York motor show.
Nissan Leaf Nismo RC: is it radio-controlled? It looks like an R/C racer...
It's not a mini model racer, despite having a composite body, battery pack and electric motor – the RC stands for Racing Competition. Nismo (Nissan's motorsports arm) and Nissan's Global Design Centre in Japan have treated the Leaf to a full carbonfibre monocoque chassis and body panels. The front and rear sections lift off to reveal the bespoke suspension components and give access to the EV drive system. That huge rear wing is driver-adjustable from the cockpit.
The Leaf Nismo RC's body is 20mm longer, 170mm wider and a massive 351mm lower than the production Leaf. At a trim 938kg it also sheds about 40% of its kerb weight versus the Leaf five-door hatchback.
The Leaf Nismo RC looks mean enough, but has Nissan uprated the EV drive?
The Nismo RC retains the Leaf's standard 80kW electric motor and 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack, but the drivetrain relocates to a mid-rear location in the chassis, with drive going to the rear wheels.
How fast is the Leaf Nismo RC, and what's the range?
Preliminary tests of the Leaf Nismo RC resulted in a 6.85 second 0-62mph time, and a top speed of 93mph, making it significantly faster in the acceleration stakes but with a similar top speed to the Leaf road car. Range is estimated at 20 minutes under racing conditions. Since the standard battery pack takes 30 minutes to reach 80% on a heavy-duty fast charger, it's fair to say that Nissan won't be taking the Leaf Nismo RC endurance racing any time soon.
So we won't see the Leaf Nismo RC competing on the track?
The Leaf Nismo RC is designed as a promotional tool and technology testbed, and won't be competing in any racing series at this time. But don't be surprised if you do see it at a racing circuit, doing promo laps and countering perceptions that EVs are dull. Although when parked next to the production Leaf it won't flatter the road car's sensible-shoes exterior styling.
The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC will be unveiled at the 2011 New York motor show on 19 April.
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