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The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC: Mama Mia!

  • All-wheel drive, zero-emission racer features Nissan’s latest electric vehicle technology.
  • Nissan plans to build six LEAF NISMO RC vehicles to deploy around the world for fans to see.

Now that’s what I’m talkin about! Being kind to Mother Earth is all well and good, but you want to sell electric vehicles? Make them fun! The best way to make a car fun is to go out and race it, and this, the LEAF NISMO RC from Nissan, looks as much fun as a big electric go kart.

Sign. Us. Up!

First Of Its Kind – Kinda

The new electric racer from Nissan has more than double the max power and torque than its predecessor had. Wait, there was a predecessor? How come I didn’t know about this? How come we didn’t get one in at One Automoblog Towers for testing? Ha, alas, but this new one? Mama mia!

Power & Performance: Two Is Better Than One

The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC is powered by two electric motors, one at each end of the chassis. Combined, the motors produce 240 kilowatts and send an astounding 472 lb-ft. of torque to the wheels. And yes, since this is an EV, all that torque starts at zero RPM. Curiously, the drivetrain tech comes from the new Nissan Leaf, including the high-capacity lithium-ion battery and the power inverters.

The all-wheel drive system gives the LEAF NISMO RC the cornering ability to match all that torque. The power is managed independently to each axle, providing torque to whichever tire has the most grip. The battery pack sits amidships, and the electric motors and inverters are ideally placed over the front and rear tires.

This is a race car, so of course, Nissan has lightened things wherever they could. A full carbon-fiber racing monocoque structure means it tips the scales at just 2,700 lbs. Impressive, given how heavy batteries can be. This breaks down to a zero to 60 time of just 3.4 seconds. Think of how much guilt-free fun that could be!

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The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC on display during its unveiling in November in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Styling & Design: Looking The Part

Since this is not just a race car, but a Japanese race car, the whole thing looks like something Brian O’Conner would drive to a Neon Evangelion cosplay convention in the Ginza. Nissan talks about the “more aggressive exterior,” and I ain’t gonna argue. The hood is long, the grille is that ugly signature V-motion deal, and the front end has been totally restyled. It’s all silver and black with NISMO red accents, aping the look of the company’s Formula E car.

The front and rear sections of the three-piece bodywork are removable but the windows are fixed in place. LED headlights and tail lights adorn both ends and there’s an adjustable rear wing. The whole thing is as ugly, and no doubt as effective as a Sten Gun.

Careful where you point it.

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Photo: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

In Person

Nissan will be showing off the LEAF NISMO RC at Formula E races and major auto shows. A smart marketing move considering the growing popularity of Formula E. Nissan plans to build six LEAF NISMO RC vehicles to deploy around the world for fans to see.

All this sounds good, but what’s really missing here Nissan is a street version of the LEAF NISMO RC. Yes, yes, I know. Marketing plans, blah-blah-blah, corporate image, yadda-yadda-yadda – I don’t care: Sell me one. With license plates. Please?

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.

Photos & Source: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.