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Car and Driver: Nissan’s Bizarre BladeGlider Wedge Car Glides Closer to Reality

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Prototype, DeltaWing, ZEOD, Rio

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Amid the backdrop of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Nissan is bringing a pair of BladeGlider prototypes to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The vehicles represent the continued evolution of the BladeGlider concept car that debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

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Infamously cribbing its basic proof of concept from the DeltaWing race car—including all the legal drama you could want—the priapic BladeGlider’s design sports a front track that is far narrower than its rear as a means of improving aerodynamics. If you’re curious about how the basic principles of the design work, then be sure to give our explanation of the physics behind the DeltaWing a read.

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EV, Prototype, Rio

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In short, the BladeGlider is a model of efficiency. With lower aerodynamic drag, the three-seat electric vehicle is able to achieve wide-eyed performance using less energy and power than similarly quick sports cars. In the case of the BladeGlider prototype, a single 130-kW electric motor in each rear wheel work together to put 268 horsepower and more than 520 lb-ft of torque to the ground. At just under 2900 pounds, or more than 500 pounds heftier than a Mazda MX-5 Miata Club we tested last year, the BladeGlider prototype is no featherweight. Yet Nissan claims the open-topped prototype can run from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds.

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The BladeGlider isn’t simply a straight shooter, though, as Nissan notes the two-toned sports car includes a torque-vectoring system that automatically sends more torque to the outside rear wheel if understeer is detected. The system has three settings: Off, Agile, and the Ford Focus RS–like Drift. Power to the electric motors is supplied by a 220-kWh battery. Nissan did not reveal information related to charge time or range.

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interior, prototype, ev, electric

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Nevertheless, the driver can keep tabs on battery charge, vehicle speed, regeneration mode, and the flow of torque from the two electric motors via the BladeGlider’s dash- and steering wheel-mounted displays. Meanwhile, rearview cameras mounted behind the car’s front wheels feed information to two display screens on the dash, not unlike the Volkswagen XL1. Rear-hinged scissor doors open up to reveal a center-mounted driver seat flanked by two passenger seats offset toward the rear, while an integrated rollover-protection system wraps around the roof of the car’s open cockpit.

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Two BladeGlider prototypes will be on display in Rio: one with green seats, the other with orange. Nissan adds that one of the prototypes will be merely for static display, while the other will be operable and offering rides to VIP guests and the media. Hopefully the next time we report on the BladeGlider, it will be from behind its center-mounted steering wheel.

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