Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept zaps into Tokyo Motor Show

The electric hatchback gets juiced with high-performance bodywork and suspension.

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Nissan has taken the wraps off its Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept here at the Tokyo Motor Show, and once again, it shows that the Japanese automaker is actively thinking of ways to broaden the appeal of its all-electric hatchback.

Those with long memories may remember the Leaf Nismo RC (Racing Competition), but this isn't anywhere near as radical in appearance or performance. That said, the new Leaf Nismo Concept does look good, and it seems significantly more production-feasible than its racetrack forbearer.

This Nismo show car builds on the markedly more pleasing look of the new second-generation Leaf, incorporating a racy new body kit with red accents. Just as importantly, the whole thing looks far more planted thanks to a sports suspension paired with unique six-spoke tuning-fork wheels wrapped in high-performance rubber.

Sadly, Nissan isn't providing much in the way of details regarding the Nismo's actual performance, only noting that it has a "custom-tuned computer that delivers instant acceleration at all speeds." The production 2018 Leaf has just 147 horsepower, but its 236 pound-feet of torque help the eco-minded hatchback feel quite sprightly off the line. As EVs tend to respond well to simple reflashes (just ask Tesla), it's indeed possible that Nissan could realize a genuine improvement in acceleration without investing in costly new hardware like a unique motor or battery pack.

With the new-generation Leaf's already improved performance and handling, the 2018 model could be a solid platform on which to base a higher-performance production Nismo version.

If Nissan builds it, let's hope the company is smart enough to make sure it doesn't end up being just a look-faster proposition. To earn a Nismo badge, it ought to be a proper go-faster one, too.