I took the Chevy Volt to an autocross today. Not to compete; just to show the flag, so to speak. I was curious what certified gearheads would have to say about Chevrolet’s first electric car. Would they reject it? Make rude comments? Exclude me all together?
The owner of this third-generation Toyota Prius is probably not the guy who comes to mind when you think of a “typical” Prius owner. The lowly Prius is his daily driver, sure, but his other two cars- a 2005 Lotus Elise and a 1996 Porsche 993- are the stuff of gear head legend. In that context, then, you might guess that this extraordinary Prius driver also happens to
drive and extraordinary Prius.
You’d be right. This Toyota Prius is chock-full of exactly the right kind of suspension, chassis, and wheel/tire mods to make it a seriously capable, canyon-carving, autocrossing, back-road bullet. A claim that the car’s owner backs up when he lets Smoking Tire host Matt Farah behind the wheel in this Smoking Tire One Take.
Modified Toyota Prius on the Smoking Tire
If Matt Farah and the Smoking Tire show seem familiar, it might be because we’ve written about them before. Back in 2012, Farah and his crew took out one of Tym Switzer’s ethanol-powered E900 Nissan GTRs and called it “the best thing ever“. Which, you know, I’m kind of proud of- having been somewhat involved in that project.
This is about one man’s surprisingly exciting go-fast Prius, however- so, let us know what you think. Is this exactly the kind of car that could bridge the gap between gear heads and green heads, or is it just an oddball Prius that appeals to no one but its
mother owner? Let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
As far as electric cars go, the Nissan Leaf is pretty much the top dog as it is. Some car reviewers have labeled it more appliance than automobile, and traditional outlets like Car & Driver haven’t minced words when it comes to the Leaf’s track performance. But Car & Driver actually went a step further, and attempted to do something a bit different; they wanted to see if they could make the Leaf more fun to drive, and in the process they brought its performance up to Porsche 911 levels.
I should qualify that statement by saying that they brought the lateral acceleration, i.e. the “skidpad” performance, up to Porsche levels. And they did this by simply switching out the Leaf’s stock Ecopia low-rolling resistence tires for some stickier rubber. We’ve already seen what a difference a few tire and suspension upgrades can do for the Leaf on the autocross track, so there seems to be at least some interest in improving the driving dynamics of the stock Leaf.
C&D found that by simply swapping out the stock Ecopia rubber for a set of Yokohama S.drive tires (which cost about $10 less per tire than the Ecopia) will improve the skidpad performance from .79 g’s to .84 g’s. Going up to Yokohama Advan Neova ADO8 added another .05 g’s, bringing lateral acceleration up to .89 g’s.
That’s actually an incredible step up in performance, though how much the range is affected, C&D does not test. They do however test the BF Goodrich g-Force R1, a barely street legal performance tire that boosts lateral acceleration to .96 g’s, nearly matching that of the Porsche 911 or the performance-oriented BMW M1 Coupe. Obviously much of the credit lies with the tire…but it also shows how nimble and fun to drive the electric Nissan Leaf can be with the investment of some new tires.
I don’t expect the Leaf to replace the Miata at track days any time soon, but I do hope more people start giving EV’s a chance to play at the track. The performance might surprise more than a few skeptics.
Source: Car & Driver
No one with any knowledge of electric vehicles can deny the fact that electric motors hold a lot of performance potential. The instant and incredible torque produced by electric motors can produce some fun cars, such as the Tesla Roadster…though right now most automakers seem more concerned with range, not speed. But that hasn’t stopped some Nissan Leaf owners from taking their electric cars out on to the track for a little test and tune.
It’s no secret that the Nissan Leaf isn’t exactly a fast car…but then again, neither is the Mazda Miata, a car that has been the staple of autocrossing events since it debuted over two decades ago. With all that instant torque and a low center of gravity, the Nissan Leaf actually makes for a fun little autocross car, as the video below shows.
The aftermarket parts industry hasn’t exactly responded with much vigor for the Nissan Leaf, as there is no doubt a lack of demand for performance parts. However, the driver of this video got creative, no doubt borrowing parts from the Nissan Versa, upon which the Leaf is based. With the Tein spring and damper upgrades, the owner was able to make the suspension a bit stiffer, which results in a bumpier ride but much tighter handling.
With traction control off, the driver was able to complete the autocross course in about 47 seconds. That is faster than some cars, though most vehicles were completing the course were anywhere from 2 to 7 seconds faster. But if you ask me, anyone with the cajones to race a Nissan Leaf deserves a salute, and hopefully more EV owners will follow suit as electric cars catch on with the masses. Nissan has already taken a stock Leaf up Pikes Peak, and is working on a rear-wheel driving NISMO racing version of the Leaf. Eventually, Nissan and other automakers will start delivering affordable electric sports cars…and that is when the real fun begins.
Source: YouTube via Green Car Reports