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First drive: Nissan BladeGlider

Thursday 18 August 2016

First drive: Nissan BladeGlider
Summary

Everything that is incorporated into the BladeGlider is like nothing you’ve seen before. Coming as Nissan’s take on the future of electric vehicles, it’s an arrow-shaped electric-powered concept car that the Japanese firm hopes will show that electric vehicles don’t have to be boring.

This car is just one of two ever produced, and has come through a partnership between Nissan and F1 experts Williams. What’s the point of a limited-run concept then? Nissan hopes the BladeGlider will show consumers that electric cars aren’t all dull, and that a Batmobile-like concept car proves this.

Looks & Image

If you’re looking for a traditional car, you may want to head elsewhere. The concept is designed to inspire shock and awe in anyone who sees it – and it certainly achieves that.

Featuring rear-hinged doors and a three-seat layout with the two passengers sat behind the driver, it looks like nothing else we’ve seen before. Well, that’s not entirely true – the BladeGlider does take styling hints from the Delta Wing concept racer from 2012. The tapered nose and close front wheels show a direct relation between the car we see today and the 2012 model.

Space & Practicality

The three-seat layout makes sense when you first sit in the BladeGlider and notice the ample legroom in the rear. It allows passengers to stretch out, but it also has a practical application – more weight over the rear axle improves the car’s handling.

The rear-hinged suicide doors do make it a bit of a tight squeeze in the back, and that targa-style roof does mean that if you’re slightly taller you’ll get a lot of wind in your face when up and running. The driver is a touch limited for room, too – although a digital dash featuring rear-facing cameras instead of mirrors does mean it’s an exciting place to sit.

Behind the Wheel

We’ve got to be honest here – we didn’t actually get the chance to pilot the BladeGlider. Nissan was wary of trusting journalists with its multimillion pound concept car – despite our persistent pleading. Instead, we were strapped into the back and asked to enjoy the ride. Thankfully, because of the nature of the BladeGlider that wasn’t difficult. Snaking around a tight and twisty kart track in Brasil, the first thing you notice is the noise. Emitting a loud wail, the BladeGlider sounds like nothing you’ve heard before – a sound you’d expect to come from a jet plane.

It certainly backs up the noise with pace. It’s not quite supercar fast, but the BladeGlider has enough power to push you back into the seat. With two 130Kw electric motors sat inside each rear wheel, there’s enough shove to allow the BladeGlider to reach 60mph in under five seconds and reach a top speed of 120mph. We weren’t given any clear indication on the car’s range though – so we’d guess it’s not brilliant.

Even from our rear seating position, it was easy to tell that the BladeGlider has a completely unique driving style. With the two front wheels positioned close together and wide tyres sitting at the rear, the BladeGlider offers an agile ride. There was plenty of tyre smoke when the test driver got playful, and for those that aren’t quite so skilled in the art of going sideways there’s a drift mode, too.

Up and running the BladeGlider did feel softly sprung, with a ride more akin to a hot hatch rather than a fully-fledged sports car. With instant torque from the electric motors being provided at all times, the BladeGlider provides one important thing – fun.

Who would buy one ?

Well, currently nobody can – not in its current form, anyway. The most important fact surrounding the BladeGlider is that it gives an insight into the future of Nissan’s electric car development. It is looking to inject some fun into the electric car mix. A sister car for the ever-popular Leaf is definitely on the cards, so there’s a good chance that it will be a thrilling follow-up. Despite the shortness of our BladeGlider experience, it would seem that Nissan is on the right track to do just that.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Nissan Bladeglider

Engine: 2 x 130kw motors, 220kw battery, one in each rear wheel

Transmission: Automatic

Performance: 0-60mph, under five seconds; Top speed, 118mph

Economy: N/A

Emissions: Zero

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