An exercise in electric possibility thinking, the purpose-built Nissan LEAF NISMO RC -- for Racing Competition -- makes its world debut in New York. Nissan intends to put this intriguing one-off through a series of on-track demonstration runs at various motorsport venues throughout the coming months in an effort to spur interest, and with luck, widespread involvement in the nascent high-performance side of EVs.
A hardcore racer designed at Nissan Global Design Center in Japan and developed by the automaker's in-house competition wing, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC features a full carbon-fiber monocoque with three-piece composite bodywork and a driver-adjustable rear wing. In addition to dispensing with virtually all of the production LEAF's creature comforts as well as its rear doors, the NISMO RC version is 6.7-inches wider, has a 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase and weighs in at just 2,068 pounds -- some 40 percent less than the series-built car. It matches its performance-spec version of a double wishbone suspension with 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone racing rubber, while super-bright, low-draw LED head and tail lights ensure see-and-be-seen status day or night.
Although the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC uses the same 80kW AC motor, 48-cell lithium-ion battery pack as the production LEAF, that hardware along with the inverter have all been repositioned amidships to improve the car's balance and send the system's 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. In early testing saw the LEAF NISMO RC ran 0-62 mph in 6.85 seconds and reached a top speed of 93 mph. With this package, Nissan estimates the car should be able to run about 20 miles at speed before needing to come in for a recharge.
Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas, believes there's a bright future for this high-profile radical recast of the production LEAF now and in the future. "Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan's world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company's Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series."