2012 Nissan DeltaWing

The rising gas prices have been impacting all of us for many years, but the world of racing seemed almost immune to these price hikes for many years. Well, with the price of fuel teetering in the $4-per-gallon range, even racing circuits are feeling the pinch at the pump. With this pinch and racing series also wanting to become more eco-friendly, they have almost all been looking into ways to modify their cars to fit this mold.

IndyCar and F1 have been at the forefront of these changes, and these changes spawned the birth of the DeltaWing in an attempt to infiltrate IndyCar in 2003. The DeltaWing was ultimately rejected by IndyCar, but its developers didn’t stop there, as they slowly worked toward getting it a spot in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it finally achieved in 2012. The Nissan DeltaWing, unfortunately, did not finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans , but its strong start did show that it had definite potential.

Now with the DeltaWing scheduled to run in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and taking home fifth place in the 2012 Petite Le Mans, the DeltaWing and its builders are well on their way of realizing their dreams. So what makes the DeltaWing so great?

Click past the jump to read our full review and learn what makes this odd-looking racecar so special.

Body and Chassis

Nissan DeltaWing

The Nissan DeltaWing boasts one of the oddest-shaped bodies in racing history, as it features a long and thin nose backed up by a wing-like back end. This shape is to obviously keep the air drag to a minimum and the weight as low as possible. It definitely achieved the drag goal, as its coefficient of drag is only 0.35.

The entire body – tub and body panels – is made of a carbon composite and its chassis is an FIA-homologated carbon-fiber monocoupe. This construction helps keep the DeltaWing’s weight as low as possible, as it weighs just 475 kg (1,047 lbs) when empty and 575 kg (1,267 lbs) with the driver and fuel. A body this light requires loads of downforce to keep it planted to the road at high speeds, and the DeltaWing provides plenty of this, thanks to its twin-vortex underbody downforce system with 75 percent of the downforce’s power on the rear axle.

Nissan DeltaWing

The DeltaWing measures in at 4.65 meters (183.07 inches) long, 1.03 meters (40.55 inches) tall, 2.08 meters (81.88 inches) wide on the rear, and 0.76 meters (29.92 inches) wide on the front. 72 percent of the DeltaWing’s weight is centered over the rear axle, giving it a less-than-ideal ratio, but with the massive 1.74-meter (68.5-inch) rear track, the back end stays planted to the ground.

Body and Chassis Specifications:

Body ConstructionCarbon Composite
Chassis ConstructionCarbon-Fiber Monocoupe
Weight475 kg (1,047 lbs) Empty / 575 kg (1,267 lbs) Race-Ready
Dimensions4.65 Meters (183.07 Inches) Long X 1.03 Meters (40.55 Inches) Tall X 2.08 Meters (81.88 Inches) Wide (Rear) X 0.76 Meters (29.92 Inches) Wide (Front)
Weight Distribution28 percent (front)/72 percent (rear)

Engine and Drivetrain

Nissan DeltaWing

What drives this odd racecar is a 1.6-liter Nissan-sourced engine with direct injection and a turbocharger strapped to it. This setup features a 50 mm diameter throttle body, borrowed from a Nissan Juke, and a drive-by-wire system, which eliminates the need for an accelerator cable. Sitting atop the 91 kg (200-pound) 4-banger engine is a high-flow, tumble-port cylinder head with a diamond-like-coated and nano-finished camshaft. This compact, lightweight engine pumps out 300 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 310 Nm (228 pound-feet) of torque between 4,000 and 6,750 rpm. The horsepower is awesome, but the torque is a little low for our liking.

The engine hooks up to a 5-speed sequential gearbox tied to an electrically actuated direct-barrel-rotation paddle shift interface. The transmission connects to the engine’s flywheel via a 4.5-inch two-plate carbon clutch. Equal-length, tripod-jointed axle shafts ship the power to the rear wheels.

All of this technology adds up to a 0-to-100 km/h (62 mph) time of just 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph).

Engine and Drivetrain Specifications:

Engine1.6-Liter, 4-Cylinder Turbocharged w/ Direct Injection
Engine Horsepower300 Horsepower at 7,40 rpm
Engine Torque310 Nm (228 Pound-Feet) at 4,000 and 6,750 rpm
Transmission5-Speed Sequential w/ Paddle shift
Drive StyleRear-Wheel Drive
Acceleration (0-to-100 km/h [62 mph])3.3 Seconds
Top Speed315 km/h (196 mph)

Handling and Braking

Nissan DeltaWing

Up front, the DeltaWing has 4130 heat-treated tubular-steel double-wishbone suspension with coil-over shocks. The rear is also a double-wishbone setup and features pushrod coil-over shocks and a fulcrum arm on the rear anti-roll bar to limit heave and roll. The steering system features a bevel-quadrant steering box without power assist for more precise track feel.

On the front corners, the DeltaWing features a set of 15-by-4-inch rims wrapped in 10/31/15 Michelin tires. At the rear, you have 310/620/15 Michelin tires wrapped around 15-by-12.5-inch rims. The rims are made from forged magnesium to help keep the unsprung weight as low as possible, thereby increasing the DeltaWing’s handling characteristics.

Nissan DeltaWing

The front brakes feature 280 mm (11-inch) X 18 mm (0.71-inch) ventilated PFC carbon discs squeezed by 4-piston, aluminum monobloc calipers. The rear is stopped via PFC carbon 320 mm (12.6-inch) X 25 mm (0.98-inch) ventilated rotors and 4-piston aluminum calipers.

Braking and Handling Specifications:

Front Suspension4130 Heat-Treated Tubular-Steel Double-Wishbone Suspension w/ Coil-Over Shocks
Rear SuspensionDouble-Wishbone w/ Pushrod Coil-Over Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar and Fulcrum Arm
Wheels15 X 4 Inches (Front) and 15 X 12.5 Inches (Rear) Forged Magnesium
Tires10/31/15 Michelin (Front) and 310/620/15 Michelin (Rear)
Front Brakes280 mm (11-Inch) X 18 mm (0.71-Inch) Ventilated PFC Carbon Discs w/ 4-Piston, Aluminum Monobloc Calipers
Rear Brakes320 mm (12.6-Inch) X 25 mm (0.98-Inch) Ventilated PFC Carbon Rotors w/ 4-Piston Aluminum Calipers
Braking Bias40 Percent Front / 60 Percent Rear


Though the DeltaWing is pretty much untested in the racing world – it has only finished one big race (Petit Le Mans) – we really think this machine has the potential to revolutionize the racing world. Will the Delta Delta Wing step in and dominate the world of racing? It absolutely will not. It will, however, spawn more models like it and eventually these types of small-displacement, low-emission, low-consumption engines will overtake the larger engines we see in racing today. A lot of the success of this revolution will bank on the Delta Wing’s success in the ALMS.

We’ll keep you updated on the DeltaWing’s performance throughout the 2013 ALMS season.

Nissan DeltaWing
  • Unique and functional design
  • 300 horsepower from a 1.6-liter engine
  • Great acceleration and top speed
  • Needs more torque to really compete
  • Untested in real-life competition
  • Too lightweight for competition and easily knocked off-track.


I must say that this is certainly unique, but not the most powerful. Of course, like what often happens, appearance is judged over the performance.

What an attractive piece of art. This Delta wing is the future of racing innovation.

This car’s appearance and features are impressive. They are targeting innovations for the future race cars; its aerodynamic figure is clearly making it gain speed.

Even if it is just an experimental car, we cannot hide the fact that this is one of the most powerful innovations they have developed. The shape really isn’t ideal, but its eccentricity makes it unique.

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