New Nissan Leaf Nismo RC – 322 hp electric race car

The Nissan Leaf may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a race car, but the electric hatchback has long had a racing version in the form of the Leaf Nismo RC, and supporting the second-generation Leaf is a new RC with more than twice the horsepower.

Okay, so calling it a race car is a bit of a stretch, because this rolling tech showcase hasn’t been strictly built to go racing. In fact, it’s more of a moving piece of marketing material to promote the new Leaf, with six units destined to be produced to be shown around the world.

But it’s more than simply a papier-mâché shell covering a milk float, because there is some serious firepower hiding underneath. Sitting at the front and rear of the car are a pair of 120 kW (161 hp) electric motors, which combine to churn out a total output of 240 kW (322 hp) and a titanic 640 Nm of torque. That’s more than double the amount of power and torque of the original RC.

And because the motors power both axles, there’s all-wheel drive for the first time, with real torque vectoring to provide the optimum amount of torque to each wheel. The lithium-ion battery – sourced from the actual Leaf, as have the inverters – is placed low in the middle of the car for the best weight balance.

Lightweight components and a full carbon fibre monocoque have allowed the RC to shed the weight, tipping the scales of just 1,220 kg. As such, it sprints from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.4 seconds – half of the time it took the previous version.

While the exterior is still recognisably a Leaf, it has been stretched in every way to be meaner and lower to the ground. The V-Motion grille, sweptback headlights, floating roof design and boomerang-shaped tail lights are similar to the road car, but there’s a longer bonnet and much broader fenders to house the fat slick tyres, plus a large front splitter, a sizeable rear diffuser, no rear doors and a massive rear wing.

The dramatic design is thanks to the resized proportions, being over 300 mm lower than the production Leaf at just 1,212 mm tall. Compared to the previous RC, this new one is slightly longer, with an overall length of 4,546 mm and a wheelbase of 2,750 mm.

The new Leaf Nismo RC will make its debut at the upcoming Nismo Festival at the Fuji Speedway on December 2, where professional drivers will run it at full tilt around the circuit. It will also be on display at Formula E races and major shows and events around the world.

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