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First Look: Nissan Leaf NISMO RC

Nissan ponders the possibilities of battery car racing.

by on Apr.18, 2011

Nissan reveals a race-ready version of its Leaf battery car at the NY Auto Show.

Who says green cars have to be slow and boring?

True, you won’t set any land speed records with the likes of the Nissan Leaf, but the Japanese maker is nonetheless studying the motorsports possibilities of a specially tuned NISMO RC – as in Racing Competition – version of the little battery car.

Set to make its formal debut at this week’s New York Auto Show, the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC bears a clear resemblance to the more conventional battery-electric vehicle that started rolling into U.S. dealer showrooms last December.  But there are also some significant differences, including a carbon fiber monocoque that’s 20% lighter than the stock Leaf’s platform.

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To further curb weight – which comes in at just 2,068 pounds for the Leaf NISMO RC – Nissan engineers have switched to a 2-door design while trimming the car’s wheelbase by 3.9 inches, though it’s 0.8 inches longer overall and 6.7 inches wider.  The most distinct difference is height, the race version lowered nearly 14 inches compared to a standard Nissan Leaf.  Ground clearance has been cut to 2.4 inches from the stock 6.3.

They’ve tossed out such unneeded items as the radio and navigation system, and the side windows don’t roll down.  They’ve also relocated the battery closer to the middle of the Leaf NISMO RC to improve its center of gravity.