Nissan lets drivers have their granola and eat it too
Since the first days of performance motoring, the sports-car owner has worn a stigma of excess. And perhaps rightly so. The image of a mustachioed and monocled Uncle Pennybags blasting through the countryside, his 16-cylinder Duesenberg killing trees per mile at a better ratio than he achieves miles-per-gallon, has persevered. The very notion of an efficient supercar laughs in the face of supercar ownership. If you can afford to own an exotic car, certainly you can afford the dismal fuel economy that comes along with it.
Back when Uncle Pennybags was out enjoying high-speed perambulation, being kind to the environment meant sparing his horse the burden of carrying him from point A to B. Hydrocarbons and greenhouse gases were the thing of alchemy and the Middle East was a popular exotic travel destination for only the very well-heeled. It may have taken the better part of 80 years, but the times they are a-changin'. No longer will the discerning sports car enthusiast have to accept an NBA-sized carbon footprint in exchange for automotive exhilaration. That is, if the goodly folks at Nissan have anything to say about it. And their ESFLOW concept speaks volumes.
Setting the eco-friendly world aglow with their LEAF, what Nissan calls the world's first practical Zero Emission family car, was no small feat on its own. But the words "practical" and "family car" are about as dead set of a clue towards its performance capabilities as… well, "Zero Emission." The whole thing is just too granola to get very excited about. Nissan has a reputation for building some of the most gorgeous coupes ever and absolutely bonkers powerplants, each one a record breaker. Fortunately, Nissan hasn't forgotten.
The ESFLOW is built from the ground up as an electric car - one that will never fit any kind of conventional combustion engine, hybrid or otherwise.
ESFLOW's engineers took full advantage of that fact, placing the power train and batteries in the optimum positions to benefit the car's handling and performance and enhancing the thrill of driving. Said powertrain is located in mid-ship configuration, a supercar must.
Other supercar elements help to completely diffuse any other indicators of tree-huggery. It's flowing composite body covers an aluminum chassis, for example, and incorporate its own roll cage. Meanwhile, the powertrain unit, which employs the same technologies installed in the Nissan LEAF, is tuned with all-out performance in mind.
All-out electric performance, sure. But what does that get you? It gets you to 60 mph in 5 seconds is what. And it does so without emitting anything except for whatever joyful whooping sound is coming out of your mouth.
By maximizing weight distribution through the placement of the batteries and motors, the ESFLOW offers unparalleled handling and braking. Its low-slung center of gravity lends itself beautifully to the futuristic yet classically-Nissan sweeping lines and wraparound front glass.
As it turns out, ecological minimalism need not come at the expense of luxury, either. The cabin of the ESFLOW is clean and open; weight saving has been a priority throughout its design. By far the heaviest components in modern cars' interiors are the steel-framed, thickly-upholstered and increasingly motorized seats. In ESFLOW the seats are sculpted into the car, negating the need for a heavy seat frame. This, of course, means that the seats are immobile. Sounds odd, but it's of no consequence as the fly-by-wire steering and pedals adjust electrically to the driver.
The seats themselves are upholstered in gold leather and perforated gold suede while the doors are trimmed in dark blue leather and suede. The blue and gold motif continues across the dashboard, which is also adorned with silver carbon trim, and features four multifunction illuminated LCD displays. Only time will tell if the ESFLOW will make it past concept stage. But whenever a car company releases a concept this well-appointed, you can be sure most of the technology, if not the entire vehicle, will make it into production soon.
While zero-carbon cake may be a thing of the future yet, another low calorie, power-granola option from Nissan is much more near at hand. The drop-dead sexy Nissan GT-R has received its share of eco-conscious tweaks for 2012. The greener supercar's advanced VR38DETT 3.8-liter twin turbo V6 now produces 530 horsepower and 448 lb-ft of torque - a result of modifying the boost pressure of the turbocharger, valve timing and air fuel ratio, and through reducing intake air resistance by enlarging the inlet pipe diameter.
GT-R's already impressive aerodynamic performance has also been improved for 2012 with downforce increased by about 10% and the coefficient of drag reduced to 0.26 (from 0.27). Enlarged fascia and grille openings also help reduce air resistance inside the engine compartment. The volume of air that passes through the radiator and cools the front brakes has also increased. These aerodynamic and engine improvements have resulted in improved fuel economy estimates. Every little bit helps, as they say.