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Auto Show:  2011 Tokyo Auto Show

Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - Tokyo Auto Show

author photo by Jeffrey Archer December 2011

Although electric cars aren't known for their high-performance capabilities or precise handling, Nissan is looking to help change that notion with a new concept revealed at this year's Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Leaf Nismo Concept, the hatchback features several upgrades that transform Nissan's plug-in Leaf from a mundane electric car to a more engaging hot hatch.

The most obvious upgrades to the Leaf Nismo Concept come to its exterior. Displayed with a stylish white finish, the concept features an exaggerated front and rear body kit that gives it a lower presence, while enlarged side skirts further enhance the EV's sporty appearance. Other exterior revisions include 18-inch, black-painted wheels, LED front lighting that accentuates a sense of motion and blue mirrors which remind buyers of the Leaf's earth-saving electric powertrain despite its sporty touches.

The Leaf Nismo Concept also features several modifications designed to boost the hatchback's performance. Among them are and several aerodynamic upgrades that improve the flow of air over the Leaf's body and add downforce for better handling, plus low-profile tires that increase grip in turns. Although Nissan didn't make any changes to the Leaf's drivetrain, the automaker notes its electric powerplant perfectly lends itself to a high-performance version thanks to the technology's instant torque at all engine speeds.

"Nissan LEAF has shown that zero emission mobility is no longer a dream but a reality," said Hideaki Wantanabe, Nissan's corporate vice president in charge of the company's electric vehicle business unit. "The Nismo Concept not only proves the hidden potential of Nissan LEAF but also adds even more excitement and energy to LEAF, delivering a guilt-free yet exhilarating driving experience that can be enjoyed by every car enthusiast."

What it means to you

While Leaf Nismo Concept probably won't make production, the hatchback's Tokyo debut - coupled with the Leaf's participation in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb earlier this year and Nissan's recent unveiling of the track-oriented Leaf RC Concept - proves the automaker may be considering a high-performance EV.

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Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - Tokyo Auto Show - Autotrader