Nissan Leaf Nismo hot hatch could rival Focus RS

A high-voltage Nissan Leaf Nismo is on its way, with performance that could upset the petrol-engined Ford Focus RS

Nissan has teased a Nissan Leaf Nismo electric hot hatchback that could revolutionise the sort of cars young drivers lust after and challenge turbocharged petrol models.

It has been designed by Nissan’s in-house tuning division, more often tasked with extracting even more performance from models like the Nissan GT-R and Nissan 370Z.

While Nissan won’t reveal full details of the surprise addition to the range until the Tokyo Motor Show, one insider told us performance could be close to the Ford Focus RS and to “Expect a 0-62mph time sub six seconds”.

It’s expected the Nismo Leaf would use the high-capacity battery pack arriving in the regular Leaf in 2019. This is said to increase the 235-mile range of the standard 40kWh Leaf by “between 35 and 50%”, but Nismo engineers could sacrifice some of this extra range to increase performance instead.

Indeed, according to Nissan, there’s a “custom-tuned computer that delivers instant acceleration at all speeds”. The handling has also been improved with “sport-tuned suspension” and the Leaf Nismo will swap its low-rolling-resistance economy tyres for sticky high-performance items.

The bodywork has undergone significant changes, too, with Nismo using its experience from racing to boost the car's aerodynamic performance and reduce lift. There’s a prominent chin spoiler under the bumper, extended side sills and a large racing-style diffuser beneath the rear bumper, all accentuated by Nismo’s signature bright red stripe. Despite these aerodynamic tweaks, the Leaf is still said to have as little drag as possible to keep its maximum driving range respectable.

Other exterior changes include a large black graphic on the bonnet, further accentuating the contrast between its white paintwork and black ‘floating’ roof and door mirrors. As you’d expect, there’s a full complement of Nismo badges, too, most noticeably on the front grille and blacked-out hatchback.

Nismo’s red highlights are repeated inside, where the air vents provide a splash of colour, along with stitching for the sports seats and a rally-style red marker at the top of the steering wheel.

2018 Nissan Leaf Nismo price and on-sale date

With customer deliveries of the regular Nissan Leaf due to commence at the start of 2018, it’s unlikely the Nissan Leaf Nismo will arrive before summer, and it could be a longer wait than that. When it does arrive in showrooms, it'll be eligible for the same £4,500 Government grant as the standard Leaf thanks to its all-electric powertrain, but is likely to cost quite a bit more than the £26,490 of the entry-level model. A price tag of just over £30,000 seems likely, making it competitive with the Ford Focus RS, which starts from £32,000.

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