NISSAN has unveiled a working prototype of a passenger vehicle that looks more like a congestion-friendly Le Mans racer than a practical passenger car.
And horror of horrors; just like the Ford Focus RS that had nanny state safety experts clambering over each other to denounce our descent to a nation of on-road hoons and make us the laughing stock of the world, it includes a drift mode.
The 220kW/707Nm battery-fuelled BladeGlider prototype, unveiled overnight in Olympics host city Rio de Janeiro, is an advance on 2013’s Tokyo Motor Show concept, and loses a little of the magic that also spawned the Deltawing Le Mans prototype racer.
Instead of the swept, Concorde-like Deltawing with a crazily narrow track at the front, the BladeGlider has adopted a more traditional wide-hipped British bulldog stance, with the profile of the cabin carrying over the visual cue of the concept’s triangular form.
And similar to a McLaren F1, the driver sits at the front of the passenger compartment, with two other seats arranged behind.
“These prototypes epitomise Nissan's drive to expand its Intelligent Mobility strategy, where driving pleasure combines with environmental responsibility,” Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said in a statement that is nowhere near as interesting as the BladeGlider.
“Nissan believes that enthusiasts should look forward to a zero emission future and Nissan BladeGlider is a perfect demonstration of that. It's the electric vehicle for car lovers.”
According to Nissan, the demonstration models use “an advanced chassis configuration with a narrow front track and wider rear track for optimum aerodynamic efficiency and handling stability”.
“High-waisted, rear-hinged dihedral doors provide a dramatic entry and exit to the cabin. The open roof of Nissan BladeGlider is reinforced with an integrated roll-over protection structure, providing the exhilaration of an open-topped race car with the safety of a coupe,” it says.
The steering wheel uses a Formula 1-style display to feed information – speed, state of battery charge, regeneration mode and torque map – to the driver. The torque map is an important one, because it contains three modes: off, agile and drift mode. These are designed to “add to the driving experience rather than govern it,” Nissan says.
“Flanking the central display are two screens, with the images of rear-view cameras mounted just behind the front wheels. An alternative to door-mounted mirrors, this dual screen design improves the aerodynamic efficiency of Nissan BladeGlider,” Nissan says.
“The driver sits in arrowhead formation slightly in front of two passengers, who enjoy extended legroom. The view for all occupants is panoramic thanks to the seamless cockpit windscreen.”
Each seat uses a four-point harness for safety.
The electric drive system is powerful enough to push the 1300kg BladeGlider from 0-100km/h in around 5.0 seconds, about the same time as a Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo. It will keep going to 190 km/h before the software steps in to protect battery range.
Nissan has built two versions of the prototype; one of which will stay on static display in the Olympic host city, and another that will offer rides to media and selected VIPs.
So, when will it arrive in Australia? Nissan isn't saying. We hope it's soon, though, if the fun police allow it.