Pops’ Rants: Here’s Why the Nissan Leaf Nismo Will Suck
I’m sick of badges and stripes...by Pops, on
If you’ve been following me, you probably know that Nissan is my favorite brand. Yeah, I know, why can’t I be a normal person and worship brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bugatti? Well, I’m not in the mood to write a piece on why I like Nissan, so I’ll explain it in a few simple sentences. I think that cars made by this brand come with a lot of bang for the buck, I love its latest design language, and the massive efforts it makes to keep all motorsport projects alive. I also think that the Maxima, Juke, and Murano are exotic vehicles in their respective niches and that almost every other car or crossover have what it takes to give the competition a run for its money.
But I admit that Nissan has its own flaws. For starters, both the 370Z and GT-R are getting a bit too long in the tooth, which leaves the brand without a solid sports car lineup. Second, the Rogue and Rogue Sport are too damn similar, and the $3,000 price difference between them has cannibalization written all over it. And third, I simply can’t forgive them for giving up on the GT-R LM Nismo project at Le Mans. Nissan just gave up too soon. Which brings me to today’s rant: why can’t Nissan build every Nismo the proper way, as in with a significantly more powerful engine than the standard model? More specifically, why in the hell is the Leaf Nismo Concept — and at the same time the upcoming production car — just a regular Leaf with a nicer appearance? It’s so frustrating!
Continue reading for the full story.
What’s Wrong with the Leaf Nismo Concept?
Nismo means more power and enhanced performance, and this is exactly what I can't find in this concept car
I could say nothing because it has a cool, sporty exterior packed with Nismo-specific features. Seen from the outside, it says what a proper Nismo should say: "I look cool, and I’m faster, more powerful than my standard sibling." The interior isn’t bad either with all that contrast stitching and the sportier seats. I could spend hours in that cabin with a big smile on my face every day. But it all becomes disappointing under the hood, where the Leaf Nismo Concept is just a regular Leaf.
Am I being picky here? Some would say yes because the new Leaf is significantly more powerful than the outgoing model, it has a better range, and it has many new features that make it more exciting to drive. But, I’m not. Nismo means more horsepower and enhanced performance by tradition, and this is exactly what I can’t find in this concept car.
Why Is This a Problem?
A production Leaf Nismo with the same specs as the standard Leaf wouldn't do much to help Nissan in the current EV market
For starters, I’m pretty certain that the production Leaf Nismo will be 99-percent identical to the concept car. Just look at it, it’s basically ready to go on the production line. The design add-ons are similar to those seen on production Nismo models, and those interior updates are definitely doable, simply because they aren’t such a big deal. And, the drivetrain... well, the drivetrain is already in production and a revised suspension isn’t something that Nissan and Nismo couldn’t develop immediately.
The big issue is that a production Leaf Nismo with the same specs as the standard Leaf wouldn’t do much to help Nissan in the current EV market. Sure, some would pay the premium to get that sexy exterior so sales wouldn’t be bad, but the issue here is that Nissan actually needs a more powerful version of the Leaf. With an output of 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet, the standard Leaf falls behind the Chevrolet Bolt (200 horsepower, 266 pound-feet) and it will probably do the same compared to the upcoming Tesla Model 3. The same happens in the range department, with the Leaf being able to deliver 150 miles, whereas both the Bolt and Model 3 are returning in excess of 200 miles.
A proper Leaf Nismo version would reduce that deficit — and maybe even deliver matching performance — but for some reason, Nissan doesn’t want that yet...
It Already Happened
Sadly, the Leaf Nismo won’t be the first Nismo to lack proper engine/motor upgrades. While the GT-R and Juke received notable drivetrain updates with the Nismo badge, cars like the Sentra, Patrol, Note, and Micra didn’t. And don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Nismo as an appearance and suspension package, but it’s been a while since Nissan launched a proper Nismo car with a noteworthy engine under the hood.
Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept.