Nissan LEAF Nismo Makes Grand Debut In Tokyo

OCT 25 2017 BY JEFF PEREZ 36

Sporty on the outside, efficient on the inside.

While the base version of the new Nissan Leaf is much improved all its own, shortly after the debut of the updated electric hatchback, the Japanese marque unleashed an even more potent variant: the Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept. Finished in a two-tone black and white paint job with red accents aplenty, the Nissan Leaf Nismo – at least on the exterior – looks the part. Now the sporty EV is making its official debut in Tokyo.

The most noticeable changes from the base model to the updated Nismo version come in the fascia. A beefier front bumper with an added spoiler lip gives the Leaf some much-needed grunt. Bigger mesh pieces can be found on the trim, and horizontal LED lights replace the trapezoidal clusters found on the standard Leaf.

Nissan LEAF Nismo

With new Nismo-branded wheel, high-performance tires, and a slightly lowered ride height, the profile of the new Leaf concept also looks much improved. The hatchback gains a stiffer suspension setup, and thicker tires for a more sporting drive. Out back, a more aggressive diffuser and a center-mounted fog light gives the Leaf Nismo a more stylish look overall.

Not much can be said about the cabin. The Nismo version gains a few updated features like red accents around the air vents, red stitching on the upholstery, and even a “Nismo” starter button, but goes mostly unchanged from the standard version. Apart from the minor styling tweaks, Nissan says that the concept aims to provide “instant acceleration at all speeds” thanks to what Nissan describes as a “custom-tuned computer.”

Nissan LEAF Nismo

The new Nissan Leaf Nismo is on display now at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan until doors close on November 4. 

Nissan LEAF Nismo

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36 Comments on "Nissan LEAF Nismo Makes Grand Debut In Tokyo"

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If the Nismo was a “10” on a scale of 1-10 and Nissan would build the Leaf to an 8 on this scale (just dial the Nismo back a tad), they would sell like hotcakes.

Leave the styling and remove the hood racing stripe “eye roll” and the ground accent color and it would look great.

By the way if you have a racing stripe on your hood you better have more than 147 hp.

Looks gorgeous and I would buy one. But will it look anything like as edgy and sporty when on sale? I doubt it. Dial it up Nissan!


I’m assuming that whatever this “custom tuned” hocus pocus is could be applied to a standard Leaf if you wanted. Other than the wheels and suspension, the drivetrain remains the same.

Guess I’m old, but I can’t bring myself to care about silly red accents. Even the two-tone doesn’t do anything for me other than harken back to the fifties (era of fins, chrome, two-tone pastels, and generally dumb extravagance).

. . . . and where’s my Vinyl roof?
Do I have to wait another 50 years for it? Darn it!

No, no… what you are waiting for is a padded, vinal, half-roof. A Leaf with a Laundu!

Don’t forget the rich, Corinthian leather.

Chrome spoked wheels with whitewalls too.

So it’s a sport concept with no powertrain upgrades? None are mentioned here…

It will be on the market after the 60kWh LG pack Leaf and one can hope that they will add a rear motor just like the Zoe concept has.

While the Nismo treatment is over the top looks-wise, it begs one to wonder just how much “hot hatchness” they can achieve from a stiffer suspension and new controller programming.

I still think the new Leaf is a fugly car, this is just lipstick on a pig. I had hopes for the new Leaf and held off on getting one till this atrocity came out, now going with a Model 3 and rather wait another 1-2 years. I just don’t understand they make pretty decent looking cars with Infinity, why didn’t they go that route? If they electrify the QX50 and put a 60 Kwh battery on it, I’d buy it in snap. I don’t know what these auto executives are smoking but I don’t want any of it.

You think the QX-50 looks good?

Um, sure, okay. That explains a lot.

I think the new Leaf looks fine. The NISMO treatment (such as it is – I’d like to see performance enhancements beyond a chip and dis, but battery limitations I guess) is actually pretty nice.

And I also think – like I always have – that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My wife actually likes the look of the old Leaf. I’m sure that you don’t drive a Ferrari in real life, so your point of comparison is probably not necessarily flattering. So whatever. Buy your Tesla. But stop being a dick online.

Each to their own I guess, but the QX50 is pretty much the ugliest mid-sized SUV.

The 60 kWh battery will be fine. Look at the 60 kWh Bolt which has 200 hp. They just would have to add a more powerful motor which I don’t understand why they wouldn’t do that.

Maybe they just don’t want to invest in making a special motor just for this low volume upgrade.

Last sentence = +1

I still think the new Leaf is a ugly car, this is just lipstick on a pig. I had hopes for the new Leaf and held off on getting one till this atrocity came out, now going with a Model 3 and rather wait another 1-2 years. I just don’t understand they make pretty decent looking cars with Infinity, why didn’t they go that route? If they electrify the QX50 and put a 60 Kwh battery on it, I’d buy it in snap. I don’t know what these auto executives are smoking but I don’t want any of it.

The new Leaf looks good, as it’s built to carry 5 Adults in comfort, and have room in the back for your stuff. It wasn’t designed to replace your Porsche.

Although, in city, suburban driving it will be more fun then churning thru Porsche gears.

Maybe 4 adults in comfort, need a wider car for 5. The 2017 Leaf has a smallish 50″ rear hip room. Less than the relatively small Bolt EV. A Honda Clarity or other largish mid-size has around 55″. That is a huge difference in comfort if you want to seat 5.

That seems odd. The current LEAF definitely has more space across the rear seat than the Bolt does. I’ve owned both.

Admittedly it’s really the shoulder room where the LEAF feels wider in the rear but according to the figures the Bolt is wider in that figure too.

This doesn’t make any sense.

It is refreshing to see an ICE manufacturer give some aftermarket sports style love to it’s EV offering, though. Many considering an EV don’t want their style considered as Joe Practical even if they are.

There have been calls over the years for a sporty SS version of Volt, for example. Nothing big, maybe upgrades akin to ELR suspension love and a reprogramming for a second or two uptick to 60mph.

Wheels can sex up a boring car. Just not too wide to ruin the AER…Add some stripes and sporty details.

EVs are still microwave ovens and wash machines in the minds of the public. We know about torque and their planted feel. It’s nice to show a little leg sometimes.

“reprogramming for a second or two uptick to 60mph.”

The reason NISMO hasn’t already done this is because power output is pretty much completely reliant on the battery. And shaving off two seconds of *any* 0-60 time is a whole hell of a lot more complicated than a little bit of programming. You’d need a pretty big turbo on a gas car to accomplish that, just for reference, and that’s not trivial.

True, but not on all count.
The present Leaf have the same motor of the older aging one.
They just pull out more power via computer maping and beefing up the inverter a bit.

And there’s more to play with the existing motor.

So yes, inverter and battery are the one holding more output, but motor and mapping are pretty easy to mod.
Except if you wnat to pull a lot more power, you might have control and handling problem to solve too.

The point was that the power limits are down to the battery, not the motor.

You can run more power through an electric motor, if you do it within reason it mostly just increases the need for cooling.

But your battery has a power limit determined by the power density and pack size. You can’t up this just by reprogramming the motor controller or changing out the motor. Not without damaging the pack at least.

But aren’t they putting in a LG Chem 60 kWh pack next year just like the one in the Bolt which has 200 hp?

Also the Volt has only 18 kWhs and it tops out at 160 hp.

No limited slip differential? No re-tune of the stability control? Meh…

Twin turbo? Intercooler? Double exhaust pipes..?

The Nismo may just be an early release of the 60 kwh battery which was reported to come with more horsepower. That would be an easy/quick way to get the 60kwh out there in limited availability at a price premium without impacting 40kwh sales. Also rolling test-beds for the upgraded drivetrain.


although there is part of me that wants them to make it a 4 seater with a big “transmission tunnel” filled with batteries that take it to 80 kWh. Remove the front motor and replace it with 2 independent motors on the rear wheels with torque vectoring. Change the weight distribution to mean all the grip is in the rear so that you can accelerate hard during cornering. Ideally the torgue vectoring should do all the steering with the front wheels being little more than oversized shopping kart wheels until the brakes are applied.

I think the NISMO will be pretty awesome. But it will take more than power and sporty tires. My MY12 likes the high profile winter tires much better than the low profile summer ones. It’s a very comfortable and effortless drive and the low profile tires just makes it less good. With a suspension tune-up, in addition to much more power, I’m hoping it’ll become an exciting drive – at a reasonable price!

The adjective “potent” seems misplaced here… All I see is cosmetics. If the changed spoiler/tires/ride height change anything at all in the performance envolope, I’d have expected it to be mentioned.
Since this is a concept, and so doesn’t commit Nissan in any way, it’s a poor showing. At the least, I’d expect an added motor for AWD, or even just stronger single motor.

Compare to what Renault’s done with the Zoe Sport…

And after all of that, still slower than a base Model 3.