Vijay Pattni28 January 2014

Nissan's 400bhp 3cyl Le Mans engine

ZEOD gets a diddy 1.5-litre with more power per kilo than an F1 motor. Yikes

In the land of Top Gear, if you have a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in your car and you admit this fact, your friends and family will disown you and your life will be ruined. Unless that 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine produces 400bhp, in which case, we're very much interested.

This then, is Nissan's new 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that will sit inside the ZEOD racer. It's the car Nissan is fielding at this year's Le Mans 24hr race as part of ‘Garage 56'; the one that looks like a Stormtrooper's helmet.

That engine packs 400bhp, 280lb ft of torque and revs to 7,500rpm. It weighs just 40kgs. It measures 500mm tall, 200mm wide and 400mm long. It boasts 10bhp per kilo and thus, has a better power-to-weight ratio than the new 1.6-litre turbo V6s used in this year's F1 season. Something to put those controversial new nosecones to shame, no?

The basic premise runs something like this: each fuel ‘stint' lasts about an hour, and in that hour the ZEOD will run this 1.5-litre 3cyl turbo until the last lap, when the electric motors will take over and whisk the racer along in silence.

The car itself promises a revolution in endurance racing, picking up the baton from the outgoing DeltaWing we saw at Le Mans in 2012. It's a closed-cockpit petrol-electric hybrid that plans to run an entire lap of Le Mans under electric power alone. That's cool.

"Friction is the enemy of horsepower and tackling that has been one of the efficiency targets we have concentrated on heavily," says Darren Cox, Nissan's Global Motorsport Director.

Quite. No doubt this little motor has piqued your interest in the ZEOD, in which case, click here, where we've got all you need to know on Nissan's Le Mans challenger.

Now share it...

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear's code of conduct (link below) before posting.