Nissan turns the electric Leaf into a hot hatch with supercar-like acceleration

In its standard from, the Nissan Leaf is hardly the most exciting car on the market. It’s electric, affordable, and practical, but there’s nothing about it that tugs at the heartstrings of driving enthusiasts. It has potential, however, and the Japanese firm demonstrated just how far it can stretch the concept of electric mobility by turning a Leaf into a battery-powered hot hatch for the track.

The 2018 Leaf Nismo RC is a follow-up to the eponymous model introduced in 2011. Nismo — Nissan’s racing arm — cranked up the performance dial in order to make the new car twice as quick as its predecessor. It’s powered by two electric motors (one over each axle) that work together to zap the four wheels into action with 321 horsepower and a stout 472 pound-feet of torque. The result is a silent, 3.4-second sprint from 0 to 62 mph.

Nissan noted the RC shares its 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with the regular-production Leaf sold worldwide. It hasn’t quoted a range figure yet. Using lightweight materials such as carbon fiber to build the car allowed engineers to offset the not-insignificant mass of the battery pack. The RC weighs about 2,700 pounds, a figure that makes it nearly 100 pounds lighter than a Subaru BRZ and a whopping 733 pounds lighter than a stock Leaf.

It helps that there’s not much left of the Leaf on the RC. Every single body panel is new. Nismo made the front and rear sections removable for easy access to the motors, installed fixed windows, added LED lights on both ends, and dropped a sizable wing on the rear-end to create downforce. It’s the same story inside, where the dashboard is a piece of carbon fiber and a tablet replaces all of the instruments.

Don’t start saving up money quite yet; the Nismo Leaf RC isn’t heading for production. Nissan will build six examples of the car to use during demonstration runs around the world. You might see one lapping a Formula E track before a race or racing up the hill at next year’s edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. While Nissan hasn’t announced plans for a hotter Leaf, we wouldn’t rule out seeing one sooner or later.

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…