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Nissan Leaf NISMO RC arrives in Europe

All-electric 322hp racing car debuts at Circuit Ricardo Tormo

By Matt Bird / Monday, January 20, 2020

Despite the general lack of enthusiasm towards electric motorsport in these parts, Nissan's Leaf RC does offer several reasons to feel optimistic. For starters, it weighs just 1,220kg, a snip for an EV and far more enticing than the two-tonne kerb weights offered by the current generation of electric hypercars. Its dual motor set-up also delivers 320hp and 472lb ft of torque for a 0-62mph sprint of just 3.4 seconds, which is quick by almost any standard.

What's more, Nissan claims that the all-wheel drive racer is not just for show, but "acts as a testbed for future technological evolution and ... explores what can be achieved with an all-electric twin-motor and all-wheel-drive drivetrain, expressing Nissan's dedication to continually evolve and improve its EV models for drivers worldwide." Given that the company has sold 450,000 Leafs over the past decade, that feedback ought to benefit a large portion of the EV-buying public and, hopefully, lead to more exciting road cars in future.

Having been unveiled at Fuji's NISMO Festival late last year, the Leaf RC has now landed on European shores for the first time. Seen here at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain, it is said to "showcase of the power, innovation and excitement of Nissan electric vehicle technology." Power and innovation certainly dominate the segment, but if Nissan really does intend on generating that all-important excitement around EVs, then it's certainly off to an appropriately fast start.


For fans of Japanese fast cars, the NISMO festival is an early Christmas present every single year. The Nissan faithful descend on Fuji for a day of motorsport celebration like no other - various Skylines, Zeds and Silvias are trotted out for the adoring fans, their road cars just as droolworthy as those on track. The festival is on again this weekend, but the focus is a little different in 2018...

It's the electric cars. Of course. Yep, we know, another Z-Tune GT-R would be much more up PH's street, but there's no denying the increasing importance of the electric automobile - both for road and track. So alongside its new Formula E car, Nissan will also reveal this new Leaf RC to the NISMO festival.

The Leaf RC is a familiar nameplate, the first car having first been seen in 2011. This one is far more serious though, boasting considerably more power and performance. Now powered by a pair of 120kW (160hp) motors, the Leaf RC is said to be capable of 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds.

That's a 50 per cent improvement on before, most likely helped by 472lb ft and a relatively lithe kerbweight of 1,220kg. With a motor at each end, the Leaf is all-wheel drive, Nissan promising that the car will "manoeuvre quickly and efficiently around the track", its balance aided by the batteries plonked low in the middle.

Despite the name and the claims of drivetrain technology sourced from the road car, this RC is very far from a production machine - a carbon monocoque and a vehicle height a foot less than normal see to that. Still, there are hints of more performance focus coming to Nissan production EVs: "The all-new Leaf NISMO RC shows how we're setting our sights even higher when it comes to raw power and performance - making electric vehicles even more exciting for customers," said Daniele Schillaci, whose Nissan global head of marketing and sales for EVs. If the past is anything to go by, transferring some race tech to road cars is a sure fire way of getting buyers onboard, especially if it involves additional power.

Six Leaf RCs will be made, "so that fans can experience the power and excitement firsthand", as well as making appearances at Formula E races across the world. So EV racing fans will have even more to be excited by in the coming months - for fans of more conventional motorsport, it might be best to stick with the old Super GT videos for a while.

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