Nissan is rumored to be working on an affordable sports car, as a rival to the Mazda MX-5. The catch? Nissan’s sports car will feature an electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the car that usually comes up in discussion when automakers set their sights on developing an affordable sports car. Since its debut in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 has become the standard for world-class handling in a package to fit anyone’s budget. Some would accuse the MX-5 of being underpowered, but when it comes to the ability to carve corners with razor-like precision, the MX-5 has few rivals, and none in its price range.
If new rumors surrounding Nissan are correct, that’s about to change. As part of its plan to launch 52 new cars over the next five years, Nissan is rumored to be working on an affordable rear-drive sports car. It will be built on a midsize platform purchased from Daimler, that ultimately will be used on the next generation 370Z, GT-R, and Infiniti G as well.
More details after the jump.
The Daimler front-engine-rear-drive platform is extremely flexible, and will accommodate a variety of engine choices, ranging from an inline-four up all the way up through through a V-8. Here’s the twist: Nissan doesn’t want a large internal combustion engine in their MX-5 rival. Instead, the company is targeting an electric drivetrain, or possibly a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, for the sports car.
Nissan’s ESFLOW concept, shown at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, was an indication that the automaker had an electric sports car in mind. The automaker is said to be in dialogue with Lotus Engineering in regards to handling and the use of lightweight materials, but it’s far too early to speculate on construction or pricing. If such an animal really is under development, don’t expect to see it in the U.S. market before 2014.