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by Tim Beissmann

Nissan aims to give new meaning to the term ‘racing green’ when it reveals the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC at this week’s 2011 New York International Auto Show.

Despite featuring the same electric underpinnings as the production LEAF which went on sale in the US, Europe and Japan in December, the LEAF Nismo RC – for ‘Racing Competition’ – is a genuine performance hatch.

According to Nissan engineers, the LEAF Nismo RC has achieved 0-100km/h sprint times of 6.85 seconds in preliminary testing, making it faster than a Volkswagen Golf GTI. Its top speed is a less spritely but still impressive 150km/h.

The battery pack, electric motor and inverter are positioned closer to the middle than in the production model, while the Nismo RC also adopts double-wishbone suspension front and rear, driver-adjustable brake balance and rear-wheel drive, which replaces the standard front-drive set-up.

The LEAF’s 80kW/281Nm AC synchronous electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, which Nissan says will have a running time of around 20 minutes under racing conditions.

Eighty percent recharges from a quick charge points will take 30 minutes, meaning pit stops are likely to take a little longer than normal.

Despite this, Nissan Americas’ Chairman, Carlos Tavares, said the brand was actively investigating a potential racing series for the LEAF Nismo RC.

“The Nissan LEAF Nismo RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” Mr Tavares said.

The Nismo RC promises to be around three seconds faster than the standard LEAF in the 0-100km/h sprint thanks to its lightweight, aerodynamic body.

The Nismo RC is 20mm longer than the LEAF despite having a 99mm shorter wheelbase. It is also 170mm wider, an incredible 350mm shorter in height, and has a ground clearance of just 60mm.

The bodywork is all carbon fibre, and with no rear doors, rear seats, boot, audio or navigation systems and no carpets, the Nismo RC weighs just 938kg – 40 percent less than the production LEAF.

The Nissan LEAF Nismo RC was created at the Nissan Global Design Centre in Japan and features removable front and rear sections, driver-adjustable rear wing, fixed windows, LED headlights, four-coat Pearl White paint, 18-inch six-spoke alloy wheels and Bridgestone racing tyres.

Mr Tavares said the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC would help change the world’s perception of electric vehicle as dull and unexciting to drive.




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