Footnote in the press release meant to dash all hopes.
Japanese carmaker Nissan has announced internationally that its new Leaf electric family car will not only receive a hotted-up Nismo variant, but that it’ll go on sale at the end of this month in its home market. More than just an aesthetic tart-up, the Leaf Nismo also sports a variety of unique chassis upgrades that promises a thoroughly more involved and engaging driving experience, though how the ingredients of hot-hatchery translate onto an electric car remains a bit of a mystery.
Changes under the skin are aplenty, but we’ll start first with the obvious bits. Befitting a performance variant, the Leaf Nismo sports a bunch of visual upgrades to denote its pointier driving experience. There are custom LED daytime running lights, a unique grille & front bumper, and variant-specific door mirrors (in black), side sill protectors, rear fog-lights, and rear bumper.
Step inside and the changes are significant here too. The steering wheel gets finished in Alcantara (replete with a red straight-ahead marker), while the gear shifter gets a rather tasty gun-metal treatment. Cloth upholsters the cabin with smatterings of red and grey contrast stitching, while a carbon-like finish is used for the instrument panel and select bits of trim get a bright red hue applied.
Beyond the aesthetic changes are upgrades that’ll improve the driving experience. There are “custom” 18-inch alloys outside wrapped in Continental ContiSportContact 5 rubber, as well as revised steering, uprated chocks, improved brakes & power management, and tuned stabilisation & dynamic softwares. As a result, the whole car should (in theory) feel more connected & thrilling than the standard Leaf to drive, though that’s something we’d have to experience to really talk about.
Despite the international distribution of the press release, one line buried deep within reveals some heartbreaking news: There are no plans to bring the Leaf Nismo to markets outside Japan. While not set in stone, following the news of a longer-range higher-power Leaf E-Plus, we were hoping that a Leaf Nismo might be more widely available. Drat.