Nissan Is Thinking About Making A Nismo Leaf
Nissan’s performance subdivision has some ideas for the Leaf.
Nissan only unveiled the 2018 Leaf a week ago, but by the sounds of things, they're already willing to slap a Nismo badge on it. In an interview with Autocar, Nissan's Senior Vice President for Global Design, Alfonso Albaisa, posited that there is space in the Nissan lineup for a Nismo Leaf, and that an easily drawn up Nismo appearance package would help the car sell more units. “The previous Leaf’s design wasn’t popular with the majority of people, so its look couldn’t contribute to sales,” said Albaisa to Autocar, "the new car is lower, wider and sportier, with the point of this design being to get greater accessibility of the market.”
It was not stated if the hypothetical Nismo package would be available for the base model Leaf, or only for the upcoming Leaf E-Plus, due in 2019, with better batteries and a stronger chassis.
If Nissan opts to make a Nismo-branded Leaf, they may continue to dilute their Nismo brand, as current Nismo offerings struggle for sales and positive reception. The Sentra Nismo was lambasted by Jared Gall of Car & Driver, who found it hard to enjoy its cheap interior, standard CVT, and sub-200 horse engine. He, agrees with our stance on the Nismo brand, too, and calls it "almost as empty of product as the word is of meaning."
It's not like making an exciting electric hot hatch is impossible, though. Renault proved it could be done with the Zoe E-Sport. That said, with what we've seen from Nismo in the past decade, with products as lukewarm as the aforementioned Sentra Nismo and Juke Nismo RS reaching production, we wonder if Nissan no longer cares about making new enthusiast cars. Considering their confirmation that the 370Z will stay in production for at least another few years, we're starting to believe Nissan just isn't interested in making fun cars any more. With the Rogue trouncing the competition, we can't entirely blame them for giving up on the enthusiast market. We're a picky bunch, after all.