It might be just three days away from its official unveiling at the  2011 New York Auto Show, but Nissan just can’t help sharing its latest electric vehicle a little early. 

Called the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC - that’s Racing Competition - the all-electric race-prepared car looks a little like the mild-mannered 5-seat family car which shares its name, but there the similarities stop.

We should also point out that the Nismo RC is not a racing version of the Nissan Esflow concept, which was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva motor show earlier this year.

Rear-wheel drive, high power motor

Instead of the front-wheel driven drivetrain found on the road-legal production leaf, the Nismo RC uses a rear-wheel drive system, with the motor placed in front of the rear axle. 

The motor itself is rated to 80 kW, capable of producing up to 107 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.  It is driven by the same 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack found in the production Leaf, mounted in a central location to give the best possible handling on track.

Longer, Lower,  Wider

Put the production 2011 Nissan Leaf and the Leaf Nismo RC next to each other and the dimensions stand out.  

At 0.8 inches longer, 6.7 inches wider and 13.8 inches lower than the production 2011 Leaf hatchback, the Nismo RC clearly screams race-vehicle.  And with a ground clearance of just 2.4 inches, it better not hit too many kerbs. 

The Nismo RC is also 40 percent lighter than the hatchback, no doubt thanks to its carbon-fiber body panels and total lack of creature comforts. 

Built to race, but only for 20 minutes

Nissan is keen to point out that the Nismo RC is a true race-car, but we’re not entirely sure we agree. 

With a top speed of only 93 mph, a projected running time of just 20 minutes under race conditions and a 0-62 time far longer than that of the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 we think it would have to undergo some serious modifications to be welcomed by the racing car world.

But as a concept that points to a zero-tailpipe emissions racing future? It’s a start. 

We’ll have more information on the Nismo RC after it is officially unveiled on Wednesday 20th April at the 2011 New York Auto Show. To keep up to date with full coverage live from the show, don’t forget to bookmark our New York Auto Show special news page over at