By on July 20, 2018

Nissan unveiled the Leaf Nismo EV this week, with sales commencing in Japan at the end of the month. This is a big surprise for the Western automotive media, as few of us truly believed it was possible. While rumors suggested the existence of such a vehicle, we presumed it would either not happen or manifest as a pathetic appearance package on a vehicle entirely consumed with efficiency.

We were wrong. Nissan actually retuned the Leaf’s computer for improved acceleration and gave it a bunch of meaningful performance upgrades.

However, Nissan didn’t say how much faster it would be compared to a standard Leaf. The model isn’t exactly sprightly (0-to-60 takes around 7.5 seconds), so the improvements probably won’t convert the Nismo variant into the ultimate sleeper car.

It also won’t look the part. While the automaker did chuck in a bunch of performance upgrades, appearance remains a large part of the equation. It has some strips of red trim (which is all the rage right now), new front and rear fasciae, LED headlamps, two-tone paint job, and a few other touches that make it look more aggressive. There’s also some red stitching found in the cabin, red trim pieces, a flat-bottomed, Alcantara-clothed steering wheel, sport seats, an an upgraded gear selector.

If that’s all it was, we’d be annoyed. But Nissan took the time to give the electric vehicle some meaningful hardware, as well. In addition to programming the computer to improve acceleration, Nissan also tweaked the braking system, traction control and anti-lock brakes to prioritize dynamics. The Leaf Nismo also has a new set of shock absorbers and unique 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Continental ContiSportContact 5 tires.

It’s not going to take down a Tesla P100Ds Model S, but it also isn’t supposed to. It’s an electric economy vehicle that Nissan kicked in the pants. But it does make us very excited about the future possibility of a Nismo variant of the more powerful, long-range Leaf E-Plus.

We are keenly aware that the prospects of this coming to North America aren’t great. However, we’re hoping Nissan listens and realizes that this is the kind of thing we want to see from Nismo — and that the idea of a juiced-up Leaf is something the market could be interested in.

Thus far, Nissan hasn’t mentioned any plans to sell this thing outside of Japan.


[Images: Nissan]

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10 Comments on “Nissan Leaf Nismo Confirmed, Baby!...”

  • avatar

    That ad is compelling. It appears that the performance version of the Leaf is able to both go around corners at moderate speeds, and change lanes.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Gag. Leaf 2.0 is only buying Nissan time until the Leaf 2.5 comes out with the bigger battery that is water cooled.

    • 0 avatar

      @sce: It’s like Windows and other software, never get the .0 release. Leaf 1.5 was a huge improvement. So will the 2.5. Probably improved electrode materials in the battery too.

  • avatar

    Slightly related. I think I might have figured out where a number of players in the EV industry are going in terms of electrolyte technology. One of the zillion labs in the Boston area working on battery tech seems to be getting a lot of attention. Nissan/Renault, Hyundai, Dyson, and Samsung have invested in Ionic Materials. They’re developing a polymer electrolyte that can be easily manufactured. The manufacturing part has been the tough part to crack for any of the battery technologies. You can make a miracle battery, but it’s no good if it can’t be mass produced cheaply. Apparently, with the ionic materials tech the cells can be extruded. And, they’re attracting attention from the big guys, so they might actually have something.

    The extrusion thing is interesting. I wonder if the entire pack could be built with additive manufacturing. Building coolant channels right into the cells and using a non-conductive coolant in them. Don’t know enough about to the technology to know if that’s possible.

    The next piece is the electrode composition. I don’t know what will win in that space, but whatever it is, everyone is eliminating cobalt. I think each manufacturer will end up with their own little secret sauce for electrode composition – which is what we have today. That’s the real reason my 1.5 Leaf still has 12 bars at 62k+ miles and a 1.0 would have lost a bar or two. They improved the electrodes.

    It’s too bad TTAC and some of the auto sites don’t cover battery tech better. There’s a lot going on in that space and it’s key to everything. Part of the problem is that it’s secretive. There is a crapload of little labs with the big guys investing in them hoping to get the ability to license whatever these guys come up with. I’m guessing 99% of them will come up with nothing, but then there’s that potential breakthrough. Even then, it won’t be a single breakthrough, but a bunch little advances from multiple labs that get put together by the big guys.

  • avatar

    Hmm, the usual talkative folks have little to say.

    Could that be because this car speaks loudly to them? It disrupts their thought patterns. That if it makes sense to them to pay more for any car with extra performance, it makes sense to pay more for a performance version of an otherwise ordinary electric car?

    It is a leap forward in causing a certain sub-group of car enthusiasts to accept electric cars.

    I started reading the article before I looked to see who wrote it. To see if Willems wrote it. I was not at all surprised to see he did not.

    • 0 avatar

      I noticed there was no mention of the recent Munro & Associates teardown of the Model 3

      No mention of the Dan Neil review

      I wonder why?

  • avatar

    Hmm, this is not quite as sick of a joke as the Prius c TRD edition I saw on a Toyota SE Asia site, I think it was Mtaylasia. It was an appearance package.

  • avatar

    Oh look, an ugly Bolt, with totally inferior everything. What a waste of time.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    These things might work well in The Sun Belt but not all of us live there, thank Glavin. This, or any other Leaf, can’t get me to work for six months of the year. Were it lifted 6″ and AWD – sure. As long as I could charge it at work, and know that it would both start and move with 3′ of snow blown up around it. My F-150 handles this admittedly rare situation admirably for the time being.

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