Editor's note: A previous version of this story, which also appeared on Page 6 of the June 17 issue, gave an incorrect sales tally for the Nissan Note e-Power Nismo. Nissan has sold 23,000 units, not 6,800.
OISO, Japan — To fully appreciate the pulse-pumping potential of the pedestrian Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, strap yourself into the safety harness of the newly developed Leaf Nismo RC.
It has the same battery and motor, albeit two instead of one, as the street-legal, extended range Leaf S Plus that went on sale in the U.S. this spring. But the similarities end there.
The sleek, carbon-fiber, monocoque RC racer does 0 to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds and churns out nearly double the torque. At a recent test drive here along the Pacific coast south of Tokyo, the Leaf Nismo RC delivered stomach-turning, neck-snapping acceleration. It spat up the asphalt, whined like a jet fighter on takeoff and laid streaks of burnt rubber across the tarmac.
It was a visceral display of Nissan's ambition to make electrified cars as mean as they are green.
Indeed, Japan's EV champion is starting to tout the performance chops of its zero-emission cars with a host of Nismo tuner packages on its Leaf and e-Power hybrid offerings.