When we visited Japan earlier this summer to take an early crack behind the wheel of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, we had the chance to talk to designers about the next-generation EV. Of course, they were proud of what they accomplished with the new Leaf, and we think they ought to be. It’s a good-looking car, and a massive improvement over the dated Leaf design it replaces.
Still, they admitted, there were constraints that limited what they could do with the Leaf. Namely, thy told us they wish they had the freedom to lower the car, and give it bigger wheels. The wheels, especially were a sticking point. Adding an inch to a wheel adds 15 pounds to the weight of the vehicle, something Nissan simply could not afford to do in first iteration of this new-gen Leaf without sacrificing efficiency. A more powerful Leaf will come at a later date, with more range, but the designers even hinted at the possibility of a Nismo version.
What you see here are renderings from artist Andrei Avarvarii of what a Nissan Leaf Nismo could look like. Of course, it has the lowered suspension and larger wheels that the design team yearned for. Widened wheel arches accentuate the car’s width. It has really nice ground effects, accented in blue (Nismo cars traditionally incorporate white and red, but the last-gen Leaf Nismo concept used this blue color scheme). That blue is repeated on the brake calipers, carbon mirror caps, and on the double spoiler in the rear. A rear diffuser is also present to improve aerodynamics.
We assume Nissan would uncork some power on the Nismo Leaf to take advantage of the on-tap torque electric powertrains provide. Of course, with sportier throttle settings and added weight from the wheels would mean it’s not as efficient as the normal Leaf, but that’s a small price to pay to provide a performance offering to those who want to give up fossil fuels. Right now, the pickins are slim. You could get a Tesla for Tesla prices, or get a BMW i3s, which we’re not sure gets the formula quite right (hopefully we’ll get a chance to be proven wrong soon). A Nissan Leaf Nismo could be just the thing to satisfy sensible but lead-footed greenies — at least until Chevy makes a Bolt SS.