Nissan is positioning itself to be a world leader in electric cars as well as hybrids, but it still has a lot of performance enthusiasts to impress. So can it blend efficiency and performance in a Nissan 370z Hybrid?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Toyota has created this dull, boring image of hybrids that other automakers have followed, leaving an awful taste in the mouth of those of us who enjoy torque and throwing a car through the twisties. That may work for a bland carmaker like Toyota, but Nissan is saying no to boring hybrids, starting with the Infiniti M35h hybrid sedan. It is the only car that will be sold in America with over 350 horsepower and a combined mileage of 30 mpg, stealing some thunder from the 31 mpg, 305 horsepower 2011 Mustang V6. Sure, it costs twice as much as the Mustang (starting at almost $54,000) but for the person looking to blend fuel efficiency and performance, there will be few other options save perhaps the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.
So to me, it is only natural that Nissan will move this hybrid drivetrain from an Infiniti performance sedan to its fabled sports coupe, the 370z. The 370z has a 3.7 liter, 332 horsepower V6 engine, which is a bigger version of the 3.5 liter V6 found in the M35h. However, when you take into account the electric motor, the M35h makes 360 horsepower and over 450 ft-lbs of torque, which blows the 370z’s 270 ft-lbs of torque out of the water. What’s more, the M35h’s 30 combined mpg rating is much better than the 23 combined rating of the 370z. More horsepower, torque, AND fuel economy? This is a real no brainer, and Nissan apparently already has a hybrid 370z test mule running about, and rumors of a hybrid or electric Nissan sports car have been circulating since last summer. Combined with the ESFLOW electric sports car concept and rumors of a hybrid GT-R supercar, Nissan really seems to be pushing a blend of efficiency and performance that I can really get behind.
If automakers want hybrids to have a more mass appeal to customers, they’ve got to break this image of dull, boring aero-eggs like the Toyota Prius. The performance potential of hybrid vehicles is huge, and it looks like Nissan (as well as Porsche) realizes that. Nissan’s rich performance car history means that it has to make performance and efficiency blend, otherwise they risk alienating a fast-car fanbase that has been decades in the making. I only hope more automakers stop looking at hybrids as something they have to do, and more as something they want to do. If more performance junkies like me can be convinced that hybrids can be cool, it won’t take long for the market to sort this out for the better.
Source: Green Car Advisor
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.