The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC, a zero-emissions racing car concept based on the Leaf, will be demonstrated publicly for the first time next weekend. The vehicle will be put through its paces at Le Mans Vers Le Future, a support event for the 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which takes place 11-12 June.
Crave got a sneak preview of the Leaf Nismo RC (the 'RC' stands for 'Racing Car') at Silverstone race circuit and, sadly, while we didn't get a chance to drive the thing, we ogled and fondled it to within an inch of its zero-emissions life.
The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC's trump card is its lightweight body. It does away with the airbags, air conditioning and fancy electronic gizmos in the Leaf and gains a carbon fibre monocoque and body panels. As a result, the Leaf Nismo RC tips the scales at a mere 938kg, making it over 450kg lighter than the 1,390kg Leaf.
Beneath the lightweight bodywork, the Leaf Nismo RC uses the same propulsion components as the Leaf. It's powered by the same 80kW (107bhp) electric motor, which draws juice from a 24kWh battery, though the physical layout of the cells has been altered slightly to aid weight distribution.
The Leaf Nismo RC's reduced weight helps it accelerate from a standstill to 62mph in a very respectable 6.8 seconds -- a slight improvement on the standard Leaf's approximate 9-second sprint time. The car's electronically limited to the same 94mph top speed as the standard model and is capable of maintaining 'race pace' for up to 20 minutes at a time.
As far-fetched as the Leaf Nismo RC may appear, it's not just for show. Nissan hopes to one day create enough of these to start a one-off racing series, pitting drivers against each other in identical Leaf Nismo RCs.
The company isn't saying when this might happen, but if you're desperate to see the Leaf Nismo RC in action, make sure you head out to the Le Mans 24 hour race in France, where you can see the car being put through its paces by a test driver at 9.15pm on Thursday 9 and again at 12.10pm on Saturday 11 June.
Alternatively, save yourself the journey and click through our photo gallery above to see it in greater detail.