Nismo Tuning Offers Tuning, Performance Options for Nissan LEAF

By · June 27, 2013

LEAF Nismo

You can enhance your LEAF's looks and performance with a NISMO pack—but it's expensive.

Adding aftermarket performance and tuning parts to a car in order to improve its performance and street cred is big business, covering everything from a total engine rebuild to lightened body panels, custom exhausts and lowered suspension.

Traditionally, custom tuning has focused on powerful muscle cars, sports models, and Japanese four-cylinder imports, but now Nissan’s performance and motorsport devision is offering its services to owners of the all-electric Nissan LEAF.

For just ¥136,500 (approximately $1400) Nismo—short for Nissan Motorsport International Limited—will tweak your LEAF’s acceleration profile to give it a more sporty feel.

Unlike traditional hotrodding—where stock parts are replaced with more powerful, uprated components to affect performance—this particular upgrade doesn’t require any new parts to be added to the customer’s LEAF. Instead, the car’s existing vehicle control module (VCM) is reprogrammed—or "chipped"—to give it a sportier throttle response.

In addition, the reprogramming also alters throttle response when in ECO mode, resulting in a car which not only has better acceleration and sportier feel but an even lower-energy ECO mode for long-distance driving.

As any car fan will tell you however, improved acceleration is nothing without an uprated suspension package. Luckily, NISMO offers one, available for ¥105,000 ($1076).

For those who want to make their LEAF look sporty too, there’s a full body kit, including NISMO-styled front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and spoilers. It also includes new lightweight aluminum black diamond-cut wheels.

The result is a LEAF which looks as it it would be at home in any Need for Speed game. But looks are expensive: purchasing the whole body kid in "wet carbon" specification will set you back a cool ¥ 753,900 .

And that’s the big problem with the NISMO LEAF tuning kit. While the idea of a performance-oriented LEAF is appealing, purchasing the body kit, reprogrammed VCM and suspension mods—not to mention the added optional extras like hydrophilic wing mirrors and various carbon-effect trim panels—would leave you with very little change from $10,000.

In addition, with the parts only currently available to Japanese customers, you’d have to pay for shipping and import duty on top. Add everything together, and you’d find yourself spending almost half as much on upgrading your LEAF as you would to buy a brand new one.

Would you spend that much money on your LEAF for a few styling changes and a sportier feel behind the wheel? I can't think of many people who would.


· · 4 years ago

Awesome idea, I would of definately taken advantage of these upgrades if I still had my LEAF (nothing yet available from my research for the VOLT)

This will be highly marketable to the Used/Second Hand LEAF owners where they will already be purchasing the car at a reduced cost leaving room for upgrades, especially if bumpers are worn or abused the NISMO body kit would solve this issue.

I miss the LEAF, but I do see myself in the market for a used one in another year or 2 at a substantially lower cost for a toy/track car with the NISMO VCM programming and suspension upgrades (not so much the body kit)

Give it some time, let the dealers or private EV/Hybrid tuners market the upgrades and it will soon take flight

· · 4 years ago

Looking forward to seeing details about the throttle remapping. When they say better performance and range you start to wonder why it's not just that way on all the cars.

· · 4 years ago

"Traditionally, custom tuning has focused on powerful muscle cars, sports models"

Not really. Custom tuning has been available for pretty much everything, and modders have been doing just that to any car they can get their hands on. Someone down the street from me has a tuned Toyota Yaris, just as an example.

@recargonick: I was wondering that too, until this article enlightened me. Better performance in D and better range in ECO, than stock. I suspect that performance can be considerably better with the same battery and motor (it's theoretically possible to get about 200 kW out of that battery, or 268 horsepower. Ref:, but the controller just isn't up to the task. (fyi, that 200 kW is about 555 amps at 360v, which isn't exactly extreme for LiIon batteries)

This is also kind of intentional, since the biggest complaint launched at electric cars is that their range isn't great. Limiting the peak power you can extract from the battery to only 110 horsepower is a good way to get the most range out of it.

· · 4 years ago


Thanks for sharing that link, it was very enlightening. I was under the impression that the battery could only supply 90kW (per Nissan's documents). With a little more (specific) information, I could very well be sold on the VCM reprogramming. Oh yeah, and it would have to be available in the US. Given the situation with the Leaf-To-Home kit (only available in Japan), I'm not holding my breath.

· · 4 years ago

The basic chassis design of the car doesn't lend itself to that of a performance track car: the suspension is done on the cheap and the attachment points and weak components are way off the mark. needed to keep the tire contact patch in contact with the road. The suspension needs far more than an aftermarket spring/shock kit to keep the car planted at speed; the car is too heavy because of the large battery pack...600lbs is a lot of mass; The car needs to be slammed to drop the CG. Forget the NISMO chassis kits, these are dreams for fan boys and designed to fatten the dealer's wallet.

I like the idea of reprogramming the controller and to me that would make sense as a mod. But, alas, another barrier above all others; one has to modify the CAN BUS code to do this. Who controls the code? Nissan; and, reverse programming this code and unlocking the secret's would be a lengthy process.,,unless Nissan would make the code public...ha!, there's a fat chance of that.

You want a good electric high performance car? One you can drive on the street and at the track? Build your own by converting a good chassis to an electric drive line. There are a ton of websites and DIY sites to show you how and months of video viewing to learn the process. Try to get started.

· · 4 years ago

I am not sure how many they will sell, but they are at least planting the seed for modding EVs.

· · 4 years ago

Also the instant throttle response, low end torque, and no shifting provided by EVs would be good for an autocross car.

· · 4 years ago

I'm going to guess that most who elect to investigate the Nismo package will do so "cafeteria style." It will be a rare consumer who will buy everything for their Leaf as outlined in that complete $10K package, or do it all at once. But, yes, we've seen aftermarket performance parts and packages for just about any car you can think of - from the sublime to the ridiculous - for decades now. So why not the Leaf?

It's true, fotajoye, that you still don't get a real race car out of a Leaf by doing all this. But the guy on the street who purchases a couple of body panels with air scoops and spoilers isn't necessarily the same as the fellow who actually races his street ride on weekends. It's also a very different mindset for one to completely build and EV from scratch than to tweak the one that was purchased new with warranty.

There are always going to be diminishing returns if you throw lots of money at basic street transportation with off-the-shelf stuff and not redesign it from the ground up as a race car. There is also a fine line that eventually gets crossed when your street car becomes more of a racer . . . rougher ride, more noise in the cabin, less comfort overall. But this is true with most ICE cars as well.

This just arrived at my inbox this morning. Here's the new FAI land speed record EV, with an average top speed in the standing mile of something like 204+mph . . .

As an aside, it's interesting to note that we're at a point in history where the current world's fastest electric aircraft has about the same top speed . . .

· · 4 years ago

How much performance are we talking about here?

I need some specs before I drop $10k on it.

· · 4 years ago


I too would love to have some numbers. I know you're big on 0-60 time. I wonder what they can realistically get down to from simply tuning the VCM. 9 seconds? 9.5 seconds?

I don't think you're ever going to drop $10k on a car you don't have, though. Especially one that you seem to despise. Then again, maybe you'd like a tuned Leaf a little more.

· · 4 years ago


I have mentioned few times that an used Leaf is a good car to own if the range is acceptable. In the case of used car, the fewer maintainence will stand out even more as the car ages over a comparable ICE especially when it is close to 100K miles mark. Of course, that is assuming that you can put up with the potential 40 miles range in the long run.

But it would be fun to buy one used and then "tune it up" for some real fast time...

Also, if the Leaf becomes a bit more "respectable" in performance, I might give it a little bit more chance especially if it can prove that its battery can last through the heat. With recent heat waves, I don't see why it is NOT a reasonable requirement....

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