► We ride in the new BladeGlider concept
► Nissan’s three-seat all-electric sports car
► Designed to show the fun side of EV motoring
Nissan’s outlandish BladeGlider concept was first unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show back in 2013. Since then, the design – a joint venture between the Renault-Nissan Alliance with driveline input from Williams Advanced Engineering – has been refined into this.
It’s the latest example of the BladeGlider concept, and was publicly unveiled prior to the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympic Games. The strange bodywork is a derivation of the Deltawing project, though the difference in track widths between front and rear has been dramatically reduced – making it look slightly less arrow-like.
Motive power comes from a pair of 130kW electric motors, located inside the rear wheels, that are supplied by a 220kW battery pack. Don’t expect much in the way of range – this is a performance exercise.
Nissan Bladeglider: what’s the point?
‘The purpose behind it is to challenge perceptions,’ says Gareth Dunsmore, Director of EV, Nissan Europe.
‘If you’re British like me we grew up with the milkfloat; people still think there’s a compromise in driving excitement and functionality. We wanted to show that you know what? We can do this with an electric vehicle. We built it because we can.’
Sounds fascinating, but does it work?
Unflapping the starboard-side hatch, we climbed aboard this dihedral-doored oddity, legs crammed between driver’s seat and sill, and strapped into the winged race seats with four-point harnesses. It’s early days, so this would just be a passenger ride around a go-kart track with a handy Williams development driver behind the wheel.
My first impression was that this is the closest I’ll come to being in a Scalextric car. The acceleration is instant and linear, and the soundtrack is a whine that climbs in line with speed. It’s ferocious: you expect it to tail off at around 20mph like in a Leaf, but it blasts through that threshold and past double it without realising. It just doesn’t relent.
And the handling. Again, from the passenger seat it feels like a slot car. It’s completely flat, totally composed and seems to change its course in an instant.
Doesn’t this car have a Drift Mode like the Focus RS?
It does – but we’ll have to wait until the car’s in Europe later in 2016 to experience that feature for ourselves. It should work just fine, though; with the BladeGlider in its ‘Agile’ mode you can feel it waggling about with intent when pushed, before the assistance systems cut in to prevent a problematic prototype prang.
The torque vectoring feature doesn’t appear intrusive in any way, either. In some cars you can feel a sort of gritty intervention as the systems shuffle torque between sides of the chassis, but there was nothing evident here.
Nissan’s first electric sports car project appears to have been a successful venture. We’ll need a proper drive to make sure but, from our very limited exposure so far, it’s a prospect we’re very much looking forward to.