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Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty

By Bob Nagy on January 27, 2014 10:00 PM
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Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street dutyNissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 1Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 2Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 3Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 4Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 5Nissan's new 400-hp/3-cylinder race engine could see street duty 6

Nissan has just released details on the new gasoline engine that will be fitted to its revolutionary electric-powered ZEOD RC racing car due to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June. As we reported earlier, the radically styled Nissan ZEOD RC was designed to be the first entrant ever to run a full lap of the 8.47-mile Circuit de le Sarthe at race pace in pure EV mode. However, it will rely on this super-light, super-compact and super-efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter/3-cylinder gasoline engine backed by a 5-speed paddle-shifted manual transaxle to keep it fully up to speed during the remaining laps of each one-hour racing stint. "Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a 3-cylinder engine in major international motorsport. We're aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focusing on downsizing," notes Darren Cox, Nissan's Global Motorsport Director.


Boasting some 400 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, Nissan's new 1.5-liter DIG-T R weighs a scant 88 pounds in base form, giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than the new 1.6-liter engines that will be used in the 2014 Formula One World Championship Series. While information gathered from all aspects of the experimental ZEOD RC program will be used to help create the automaker's primo P1-category Le Mans Prototype entry that will contest the full 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, Cox also confirmed that "lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future."

"Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine," notes Cox, who also credits French lubricant experts and Nissan technical partner, Total, with providing major expertise to advance the program. "Friction is the enemy of horsepower and tackling that has been one of the efficiency targets we have concentrated on heavily. Our aim is to set new standards in efficiency in regards to every aspect of the car - powertrain, aerodynamics and handling.  For the powertrain we have worked closely with the team at Total to not only reduce friction inside the engine, but within all components of the powertrain."


The Nissan ZEOD RC racer has now begun what will become four months of extensive on-track testing to prepare for its debut at Le Mans. It will be interesting to see where Nissan's new DIG-T R engine makes its next motorsport appearance -- not to mention finding out where and when we might see a detuned variant hit the streets. 

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