Car news

11 November 2013

How cool is the Nissan Bladeglider?

Does Nissan’s narrow-track concept finally make you want an EV?

Matthew Jones
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EV technology is interesting, but not particularly... cool. Something Nissan is keen to address with the Bladeglider concept, which may give us a glimpse into the future of its sports cars. But before we get under this thing's skin, here's something: there's a chance it might - might - reach showrooms.

Nissan's engineering, sales and marketing boss, Andy Palmer, told TopGear.com: "I want to build a sports car that challenges convention. Something for 25-year-olds that have been brought up with the car as something demonised. Something environmentally acceptable, with 70 per cent of the weight in the rear, a central driving position, and narrow track. That's my answer to the future sports car. Something that offends your parents." Encouraging stuff.

So, the Bladeglider. Let's start with the shape. As the company's DeltaWing proved - and the Reliant Robin patently didn't - cars with a skinny front end won't necessarily fall over at the first sniff of a corner. A discovery Nissan's keen to promote with this concept's one metre, super-narrow front track.

Nissan tells us that having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances maneuverability for high G cornering power. Helped, in no small part, by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio. Extra plantedness is created with some clever aero built into the lightweight carbon-fibre underbody.

Then there are the motors. If this makes it to showrooms, it would be Nissan's first use of in-wheel motors, which provide rear-wheel propulsion. Each motor would be managed independently, and because there's no awkward engine to hide under the bodywork, it allows a lot more freedom for the designers to go wild on the upper body and interior packaging.

Stuff like three-abreast seating. As per the McLaren F1, the driver's chair sticks out ahead of the ménage à trois, which maintains the car's balance and gives the pilot a near-360 degree view of the road. The driver's seat itself also automatically slides laterally when you open the door, enabling easy access to passenger seats.

"BladeGlider was conceived around delivering a glider-like exhilaration that echoes its lightweight, downsized hyper-efficient aerodynamic form," said Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's senior vice president and chief creative officer. "This design is more than revolutionary; it's transformational, applying our most advanced electric drive-train technology and racetrack-inspired styling in the service of a new dimension of shared driving pleasure."

There'll be more info when it's unveiled at the Tokyo motor show later this month, but could this crazy little project finally reinvent the EV's reputation?

Tags: tokyo 13, bladeglider, nissan

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