EXCLUSIVE (Sort of) Driving the Nissan BladeGlider Concept Popular Mechanics

15 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи EXCLUSIVE (Sort of) Driving the Nissan BladeGlider Concept Popular Mechanics отключены
Nissan BladeGlider

Nissan’s bold idea could change the future of cars.

November 19, 2013 PM Text Size: A. A. A

To be clear, I did not the Nissan BladeGlider concept. I did drive was Nissan’s proof-of-concept the BladeGlider: a test mule up with a similar narrow-front-track arrangement. It’s meant to the virtues of this unconventional to Nissan engineers and executives, and a of journalists.

Let me be clear on another This car changes everything what you thought you knew sports car handling.

For example: At Arizona proving grounds, driving a conventional Ariel for the second time. It feels after driving the narrow-front-track and I’m cornering much Coming out of the tight left-hand on the test course, I can actually see and that the inside tire providing much grip, is why the car won’t respond as eagerly as I

But here’s the crazy thing: having driven the Nissan prototype, I would never thought this was a problem. It was a normal part of a car’s limits even a crazy car. After just a few behind the wheel of the proof-of-concept I realize I have to re-wire my to understand what’s possible.

The So Far

I’m getting a little in the story here. I’m out in because of Ben Bowlby, who’s title with Nissan is of motorsports innovation. He’s the behind the narrow front concept, which began as the concept for IndyCar and was eventually up by Nissan for an experimental run at the 24 Hours of Le

Nissan parted ways the DeltaWing name when mogul Don Panoz bought the to it, but the company brought Bowlby on and continues to develop the narrow-front-track with the ZEOD RC, which return to Le Mans in 2014.

wisdom says that a track is essential for stability, and putting as much tire as at all four corners results in the handling and grip. But as Bowlby is to show me, that’s not always the He says that the key behind the concept is balancing the tires to the of the car.

To demonstrate, in front of me are two Atoms. an open wheel car with an exposed frame, cockpit, and midmounted 230-hp One is totally stock. The other has the track narrowed from 63 to a skinny 39.4 (the as in the concept car).

In place of the stock seats, the test has a single, center-mounted racing The radiators have been rearward to help shift the distribution to about 29:71 to rear, compared with in the stock car. Bowlby’s also added an adjustable antiroll bar. And, of they changed the tires 195/50R-15 in front and 205/55R-15 in to 155/50R-15 front and 245/40R17

The total contact patch for cars is the same, but the altered car has Continental ContiProContact rubber they couldn’t find tires in such a narrow

Bowlby is careful to point out the demonstration car has nothing to do with the or the production car that it will (or the Ariel, for that matter). merely a way to demonstrate the ride and of a narrow-front-track car.

The altered car looks so odd compared anything else on four I can’t wrap my head the idea. Bowlby suggests I the cars before any explanation my initial impression. I start in the car.

Nissan has a small of cones set up on a vast swath of I take a few laps to warm up, increasing my speed. On lap three, I in a sweeping left corner suddenly lifting off the gas. The is a serious car highly responsive but very sensitive to the driver’s

Get a little too ambitious, and you can get into

Baseline impressions completed, I hop the narrow-front-track car (unfortunately, Nissan yet have a better name for idea). It takes a couple of to get used to the fact that the car is wider at the rear, but I avoid the of clipping any cones. After a acceleration to about 100 mph, I on the brakes. The altered car is obviously more stable under There are no antilock brakes on car, but it’s easy to the pedal in the altered prototype at the edge of the tires’ grip.

I again on the third lap, but time nearly on purpose, several loops around a skidpad trying to drift the end of the car.

The difference between the two is stunning. It’s hard to they share so much In the standard car, driving at the is a tricky balancing act between (which is when the front end unresponsive) and oversteer (which is the back starts to come on you). Nobody would suggest that a stock Atom is unresponsive, but the altered car like it’s hard-wired your brain.

After just five around the improvised course, converted.

But How Does It Work?

with that firsthand I can’t wrap my brain why the narrow-front-track works so well. It looks unnatural, though the behind it are sound. Form function, is a phrase that Bowlby’s explanation.

The narrow drastically reduces drag, leads to better energy And with all the weight and tires toward the rear, the car can accelerate as well as a four-wheel-drive car.

As for the the narrow front track makes plenty of sense you look at it closely. When a car turns around a corner, the front tire takes a that is much wider the inside tire. Most use a trick known as Ackerman to solve this problem and the inside tire more When you reduce the front to 40 inches or less, the front essentially follow the same

That means there’s no for Ackerman steering, and because the also share cornering evenly, tricks to balance out the side-to-side with a geometry are also unnecessary. The altered I’m driving has zero toe and on the front tires. As an added the tires wear more

But with skinny front and so much weight on the rear, how the car actually turn? It seems but the light front end makes the car responsive. With the center of shifted rearward, there’s little inertia involved in around a corner. Or, as Bowlby it, you’re not dragging the center of through a corner.

Nissan BladeGlider

It’s somewhat akin to if you lay a on a table the light end moves while the heavy head as a pivot point.


Surely, the weakness of the narrow front is bumps, right? Actually, a assumption is wrong again. The front allows for softer and less roll stiffness, give the car more compliance rough surfaces. Conventional adjust to the road from points, so if one wheel goes a bump it tries to twist the of the suspension in response.

The narrow track is more like a bar stool: The tires are always in the plane so it’s never and never has to fight against It’s a tough idea to but Bowlby says the key is balancing the grip, and roll stiffness. enough, the triangular layout you a very consistent and coherent in the car.

And that was a very discovery.

From the Track to the

Not even Bowlby knew a narrow-front-track car would be a success. I think that anybody put hand on their heart and this is going to work, he But when Nissan built the racer, all the drivers kept it was the most fun car they’d ever

That led to further development the ZEOD and what will be the production version of the BladeGlider.

The electric powertrain makes it to achieve the rear weight needed for the narrow-front-track setup. The car uses two motors mounted in the hub of each rear wheel, and 75 percent of the weight on the rear it’s safe to assume most of the batteries are mounted in the aft The concept car’s tires are more extreme than the with 100/80-17 rubber in essentially a motorcycle-tire dimension and dimensions in the rear.

Back in Bowlby mentions that the benefit of the narrow-front-track arrangement is having all the weight and aerodynamic at the back of the car makes it naturally Plus, he says, the altered gives the test prototype 10 more grip than the version, even with the mounted in front. As I take on laps in the prototype, I’m at how stable it remains, right up to the The stock Ariel is thrilling, of but you’re always reacting to the loads through accelerating, and braking. The narrow-front-track car, in makes me feel like my are twice as fast.

I’ve driven a car that’s so balanced.

Let the Begin

Nissan’s statements up to point have been There will be a production of the BladeGlider. And not just a few copies for the as is the case with the Juke R. but an car you can buy in the showroom. In speaking with executive Andy Palmer the Tokyo Motor Show, he that while he can’t be too it usually takes about years for a car to progress from the to production stage. He also it clear that the road-going will be built in numbers make it accessible to anybody who and can afford one.

Of course, both the cost and price are pretty hard to out at this point. No carmaker has as bold as Nissan in committing to an unorthodox idea.

The BladeGlider debut at the Tokyo Motor will find plenty of and with some reason. all, nobody has even anything like this on the It’s still hard to for me to how the car works from just at it.

But having driven the proof there’s no doubt that who drives the car will quickly from skepticism to believing this is how every sports car be made.

Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider
Nissan BladeGlider

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