Nismo, Nissan’s motorsport arm, is considering following the likes of BMW’s M division and Daimler’s Mercedes’ AMG by establishing a specialist tuning unit for the company’s road cars.
Nismo head Shoichi Miyatani said at the Tokyo show it could lead to body-kitted versions of some models, or body kits with engine and suspension tuning for others.
“In our view, the body kit alone is not enough”, he added.
Three examples of what this could lead to are on view at the show. There are body-kitted Nismo versions of the Juke compact crossover and even the electric Leaf plus a racing version of the Leaf with a standard electric motor and battery pack inside a carbon fibre-shelled, lowered and stiffened competition car whose weight has been pared by 600kg.
“It would not be for every range. We are considering it for selected models like the Juke,” said Miyatani.
“Our race engineers collaborated with the production team by optimising the airflow and adding a bit more downforce without any damage to the drag co-efficient. It has a normal Juke 1.6 turbo engine, but we could improve and enhance that and unleash its potential.”
One drawback, he admitted, is that Nismo is largely unknown outside of Japan except among diehard motorsport fans.
“We have not been good at marketing it,” he says. “This needs to be rectified.”
Miyatani said he had been in touch with Nissan’s alliance partners at Renaultsport about ‘productionising’ motorsport-inspired road cars and making them sportier while still suitable for everyday use, and added Nismo could even exploit its sponsorship deal with the Red Bull Formula 1 team – drivers’ and constructors’ world champions in 2011 – about advancing items such as brake energy recovery systems for road use.