The Nissan Leaf is a… Race Car?

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Last month we talked about Nissan’s intention to make NISMO into an accessible performance brand, following suit after the Juke and the 370Z. We also talked about how the new, lower-priced Nissan Leaf will potentially be cheapest electric vehicle available in the US and many other markets. With a base price of ~$28K and as low as ~$18K with government benefits, it seems almost impossibly cheap.

So, unsurprisingly, today we see the functional evolution of the Leaf NISMO RC we first saw back in 2011 at the New York Motor Show. RC, of course, standing for Racing Competition.

That’s right, the Nissan Leaf RC – with all of its 107hp – was recorded making laps around a racetrack. Although, I would hesitate to call it “racing”. More like “cruising”. Like a Ferrari that left its parking brake off.

Now, it’s important to take a moment here and point out that whatever you or I think about the Nissan Leaf and its NISMO variant, the car has surpassed expectations. No other Japanese brand has been able to make such a well-received EV, and Nissan is certainly not the first to try. Despite lower-than-anticipated demand for EVs generally, as of this week Nissan announced their breach of the 50,000 sales threshold. Since 2011, 50,000 units have been driven off dealerships in 17 countries, 20,000 of those units in the United States alone.

Those are some very respectable numbers. And according to Nissan, the snowball is rolling.

But, however successful the Nissan Leaf may be, there’s no denying that the tuned-up NISMO RC version looks, I don’t want to say pathetic, but lackluster as it silently glides around a racetrack. It looks smooth and seems like it drives well, but man is it slow! And I’m not really sure why the video is completely silent. Maybe to point out that its zero-emission? I don’t know.

Specs-wise, the Leaf NISMO RC is 7 inches wider and 40% lighter-weight than the original version with the same 107hp. It also has numerous design differences, as seen in the video.

Honestly, I have to question whether or not the Leaf is really the best place for Nissan’s Motorsport Division to be spending their time. I mean, are Leaf drivers really looking for higher performance? More so than other segment’s drivers? I don’t think so. But in the end its not my call, and I’ll trust Nissan’s judgment.

However you feel about the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC, the Japanese brand is moving in a new direction, and the NISMO models have generally been very impressive. Maybe this will be like Lexus LFA, where it’s more about experimentation and learning new things than actually producing a marketable car.

What do you think about Nissan Leaf NISMO? Am I being too harsh? Not harsh enough?

Either way, thanks for reading.

Source: Autoblog Green

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