Nissan has finally given their Leaf electric car the NISMO treatment.
There are very few cars that Nissan makes that don’t eventually get handed over to their Nismo performance division. Nismo specializes in making extreme versions of anything Nissan makes, to which they have varying degrees of success. The Sentra Nismo was a big deal back in the day--the Juke Nismo, not so much.
But now the fine engineers over at Nismo have been given the Leaf to play with, which gives everyone hopes for something that might be able to take on Tesla in the performance department. What we got was something with a lot of style but not a lot of substance.
Nissan says the Nismo Leaf comes with a slew of upgrades, including sport-tuned suspension, brakes, steering, and a brand new tuned computer that provides for smoother and faster acceleration. There’s also a stylish new exterior that provides even more downforce but retains the same drag coefficient.
Those are all positive things, but what about power? The normal Leaf comes with a rinky-dink electric motor that produces 147 hp if you really beg for it, and 236 lb-ft of torque. Range is a hardly class-leading 150 miles from a 40 kWh battery.
Now, since the Leaf is one of the cheapest electric vehicles you can buy, those numbers aren’t really all that bad. But a Nismo car should have something to show for itself. Like, maybe they took the same engine out of the GT-R and put it in the Leaf as they did with the Juke that one time.
Sadly, Nismo seems to have disappointed us. There’s no performance figures or even the mention of powertrain upgrades in Nissan’s press release. A missed opportunity if there ever was one.
Instead, we make do with some custom 18-inch aluminum wheels and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. Whoop-dee-doo.
The good news is the Nismo Leaf only goes on sale in Japan at the end of the month, so we’ll never see it here in North America. We will, however, see an upgraded battery come out for the 2019 model year Leaf that upgrades its range to 225 miles. That’s something to write home about, at least.