In case you had any doubts, here’s proof that Nissan is serious about its all-electric Leaf Nismo RC race car concept. A new video from the automaker shows the Leaf-based racer being tested on a race track as engineers obsess over every detail of the vehicle.
In the video, test driver Tsugia Matsuda takes the Nismo RC for some shakedown laps around Japan’s Sodegaura Forest Raceway. He says he was expecting the modified Leaf to feel totally different from the race cars he’s used to piloting, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, Matsuda says he was impressed by the car’s acceleration and handling.
The Nismo RC uses the same electric drivetrain as the roadgoing Leaf hatchback, but the motor, batteries, and associated electronics have been moved to the rear of car, giving it the same sort of weight distribution as one would find in a mid-engine, rear-drive vehicle. Unfortunately, Nissan says that hard track driving will drain the batteries in just 20 minutes.
The body is made almost exclusively of carbon fiber, trimming weight to a sprightly 2068 pounds, which helps it accelerate much more quickly than the standard car. Abig rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels wearing Bridgestone slick tires, and fully adjustable suspension help tailor the car for track use. The standard car’s comfortable interior has been replaced with a racing bucket seat and roll cage, while the windows are made from lightweight Lexan.
Nissan is still figuring out in which race series the Leaf Nismo RC will compete, and it may ultimately be relegated to a bespoke spec-race series or an EV competition. Manaki Iwamoto, general manager of Nissan Motorsports, says in this video that the Leaf offers unique opportunities for racing: Because it doesn’t produce any poisonous emissions, indoor races are possible, and because the car is much quieter than traditional race cars, Nissan may consider holding events at night or in busy cities.