At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Nissan previewed the Nissan LEAF Nismo, a tuned-up version of the all electric LEAF. While Nissan has made a couple Nismo Leaf's, such as the Nismo LEAF RC race car, this one is slated for limited production in Japan starting this summer. While it features aerodynamic improvements, it reportedly does not have any performance change.
The information comes via AutoCar who spoke with Nismo chief Shoichi Miyatani at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
The changes reportedly include a new aerodynamic body, new alloy wheels, and revisions to the passenger cabin. The body has a crisper look and appears to sit a little lower to the ground. While there will not be any performance improvements to the Nismo LEAF, the new look gives emotional performance improvements.
For now production, and sales, will only be in Japan. Nissan will look at the response of Japanese car buyers to gauge whether to export this version of the LEAF.
Compared to the Nissan LEAF Nismo confirmed for production, the Nismo LEAF RC has quite a few changes over the stock Nissan LEAF. Its wheelbase is 3.9 inches shorter, it's 6.7 inches wider, sits a lot closer to the ground with a 2.4 inch ground clearance, and at 2,068 pounds (960 kg), the Nismo LEAF RC weighs in at about 40 percent less than the regular LEAF. Given what AutoCar published the overall specs of the LEAF Nismo production model should be closer to those of the regular LEAF.
Even though there are no performance upgrades in the drive train, we do have some evidence that the LEAF Nismo should be a bit faster. An entrant in last summer's REFUEL race, an informally organized electric racing series in its fourth year, came with a tuned up Nissan Leaf featuring suspension and aerodynamics tweaks. Obviously the engineers at NISMO can do more to tweak a LEAF than an individual in their garage, but Nader Assemi blew the doors off the other LEAF's in that event. His 2:02 best lap time earned him 9th place, was faster than three Tesla Roadster drivers, and was 10 seconds faster than the next fastest LEAF.
Nissan recently unveiled the American version of the 2013 Nissan Leaf. That car featured a few design tweaks, improved driving range, but most importantly a much lower starting price.