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Nissan enters featherweight class


NISSAN has unveiled a new lightweight engine which will power the ZEOD RC, set to debut at Le Mans later in the year. The racing machine will feature hybrid technology, yet its internal combustion engine is attracting all the attention.

In June, the ZEOD RC will be the first vehicle in history to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe using only electric power. A single lap of each stint (approximately one hour) will be electric powered, after which the DIG-T R 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo-engine will take over proceedings. This makes the unit the first three-cylinder engine produced by a large manufacturer to be used in a major motorsport event.

The engine is tiny and weighs only 40kg, but produces 380Nm of torque. The base engine is only 500mm tall, 400mm long and 200mm wide, which means that it is small enough to take as luggage on a plane. Its weight may stop that from happening, however.

It can rev to 7 500rpm, produces 298kW and creates a ratio of 7.5kW per kilogram. That makes this little engine better in terms of a power-to-weight ratio than the new engines to be used in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2014.

The good news is that Nissan is using this technology to develop a new generation of high-power, small-capacity engines to be used in road cars of the future.

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