Nissan might have only just revealed the production version of its all-new 400hp Z sports car in August in New York City, but now we are hearing snippets from the corridors of their R&D department that they have another sports car project in the pipeline.
And it’s nothing less than a mid-engined sports model. But given the low sales volumes of sports cars, and the high cost of development, the only way to make this project happen would be to use existing technology from the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
This is not the first time that Nissan has grappled with the idea of a mid-engined sports car. Back in 1985, the company unveiled its 3.0-liter, mid-engined, all-wheel-drive ‘MID4’ concept (pictured above) at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Later in 1987, it debuted the MID4-II at the Tokyo Motor Show, with the plan to launch the car onto the market by the late 80s. It was the first car to feature Nissan’s ATTESA all-wheel-drive and the new HICAS four-wheel steering system that both appeared on the Skyline GT-R in 1989 and other models. The MID4 was originally targeting rivals from Porsche and Ferrari but cost issues ultimately shelved the project.
Now, the brand is back with a mid-engined car concept that has a lot going for it. As mentioned above, in Nissan’s case it has the Renault-Nissan Alliance to lean on, which, when you think about it, is the only reason this car is even being considered. And that means it has access to the highly acclaimed mid-engined platform from the Renault Alpine A110.
However, unlike Toyota and BMW who shared the same platform and in-line 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder engine on the Supra and Z4, or Toyota and Subaru who used the same platform and 2.4-liter boxer engine in the GR86 and BRZ, Nissan will want to impress their own identity onto this project by giving their sports car its own unique body and interior design, and of course its own bespoke powertrain. In fact, we could expect the car would take a combination of design cues from the MID4 concept of 36 years ago and the Alpine as well.
While the new Nissan would employ Renault’s Alpine A110 platform, it would not use that coupe’s 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. In stead, Nissan would opt for the same 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s fitted to the Rogue but bolt on a revised version of its highly lauded (in Japan at least!) e-Power system.
First launched in Japan in 2016 in the Nissan Note to rave reviews, e-Power delivers the same 100% electric motor-driven technology found in the LEAF to generate instant torque. Unlike conventional hybrid systems, however, an onboard gasoline engine purely acts as a generator to charge the batteries and does not drive the wheels.
As for the new combination of turbo engine and e-Power, one source close to Nissan suggests that the new, as yet un-named mid-engined sports car will get 4WD, with the e-Power system driving the fronts, the 1.5-liter turbo driving the rear wheels and estimated power eclipsing 300hp. That powertrain would be married to a CVT with paddle-shifters and sitting on the Alpine’s chassis, the car should deliver top class handling. If Nissan takes the plunge with this radical new sports car, given the pandemic, costs, and ongoing semi-conductor issues, it would slot into the brand’s lineup under the new Z and should appear by 2024.