If you think of the least sporty cars on the planet, it won’t be long before you reach the Nissan Leaf.
The heavy and dumpy looking electric vehicle was not a car given over to sporty driving. The pace of progress in EVs meant it quickly became outclassed on power, performance and range, even despite Nissan regularly updating it.
Enter the second generation car. It’s far more angular and aggressive, and Nissan has turned its attention to making it sportier and appealing, for a younger market. So much so that it has given the Leaf to its motorsports unit, Nismo, to create a tuned version.
Don’t get excited about the prospect of more power though. The Nismo Leaf — at least in this concept form — will use the same engine as the higher spec Leaf e-Plus. This is a 110kW motor (147hp), powered by a 40kWh battery pack. That should still be good to eclipse the original’s patient 11 second 0-60mph time though.
Instead you need to look at the bodywork to find the Nismo touch. The sports-Leaf has a new bodykit (with traditional red flashes) that Nismo reckons will reduce lift at speed without harming the all-important drag coefficient. Yes, it has a rear diffuser.
You’ll find more of the red highlights in the cabin too. We’re particularly fond of the red-ringed starter button, and the red 12’o’clock marking on the steering wheel.
Nismo has also worked on the suspension and throttle response. There’s no specifics on what goes into the “sport-tuned suspension”, but it does look like this Leaf sits lower than others. A “custom-tuned computer” gives instant acceleration at any road speed, according to the press release, and Nismo also swaps out the low resistance tires for higher-grade rubber.
When Nissan officially unveils the car at the Tokyo Motor Show next month, it’s likely to also announce pricing and availability.