Tony O'Kane | May 17, 2008

Last time we told you about Nissan's upcoming cheap RWD sports car, the general consensus was that it would be powered by either a naturally-aspirated or turbocharged motor. Now, it seems that the small coupe might get its motivation from a more environmentally-friendly source: a petrol-electric hybrid powerplant.

Junichi Endo, Nissan’s senior vice president of global marketing, said in a recent interview with Drive.com.au that Nissan were seriously investigating a hybrid-powered sports car and that the likelihood of such a car being produced was about "50-50"

“People are more sensitive to fuel efficiency,” said Mr Endo. “A front-engine, rear-drive may appeal still … but it’s important it is still fun to drive. Ideally we would try to hit both fuel economy and driving pleasure.”

Interestingly, Mr Endo also speculated that a more permanent environmental solution would be found in all-electric power: “In the very short term, probably a hybrid front-engine, rear-wheel drive [sports car] … would be a good candidate. In the mid term an electric vehicle is a strong candidate we are looking at.”

While the prospect of an all-electric Silvia may sound like sacrilege and a limp-wristed concession to the tree-hugger brigade, anyone who's ever driven an all-electric vehicle will know that these motors are capable of some rather rapid movement; largely thanks to the peculiar torque delivery characteristics of electric motors making 100% torque available from 0rpm. It's no wonder that there's already an all-electric drag racing series in the USA, and that the waiting list for a Tesla Roadster is already massive - electric motors make a lot of sense in a performance application.

In the interim though, it seems that hybrid power might be the best way of easing enthusiasts into such new and unfamiliar technology. While I'll certainly miss tweaking my good ol' petrol-powered Nissan, I'm sure that enthusiasts and manufacturers will find a way to make the sports cars of the future enjoyable to drive. Perhaps instead of a turbo upgrade, all you'll need to do is just throw in a couple of mega-farad capacitors and a truck battery. The future's looking bright...

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