Twin-motor, AWD Nissan test car turns a new Leaf

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Nissan seems to be quite in tune with the seasons, because this “EV test car” turns a cool blue Leaf into a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive version that, if not red-hot, certainly adds some spice to the 214-hp Leaf Plus.

Though Nissan went full eco mode with this Leaf Plus advertisement, right down to the rugged hiker man filling his Nalgene from a pellucid mountain stream, Nissan has armed this test car with tech that should welcome some spirited flinging around said mountains.

This new test car—Nissan isn’t providing any more colorful name—boasts twin EM57 motors, one front and one rear, each drawing power from the long-range Leaf Plus’ 62-kWh battery pack for a max output of roughly 308 hp (227 kW). Nissan’s quite proud of what it calls “all-wheel control,” and, to be fair, there is in fact more than all-wheel drive at play. The test car optimizes the torque balance between front and rear motors and can brake each wheel independently to maximize cornering force. Nissan didn’t provide a curb weight for this test car as yet, but the Leaf Plus on which it’s based comes in at 3821 pounds—and this hotted-up Leaf dishes out approximately 501 lb-ft of torque (680 Nm). That’s nearly twice the 2019 Golf GTI’s 258 lb-ft, although that time-honored hatch weighs 700–800 pounds less. Hey, we’re not trying to start a fight here, just offering some context.

We’re not ones to scoff at frugal commuter cars, but this beefed-up Leaf seems to herald the kind of handling we’d have some fun with—and fingers crossed, bodes well for future accessible, flingable EVs exiting Nissan’s doors. Takao Asami, Nissan’s senior vice president for research and advanced engineering, encourages the public to do so: “Soon, Nissan will launch a next-generation EV that will be a true breakthrough,” he said.

Technology marches on, and we’ll be in tune.

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