Japan is a country that nurtures many motoring sub-niches, with the weird hot hatchback perhaps our very favourite.
And it is a good day, for one of the weirdest of the lot has just had a big old update.
The Nissan Note Nismo is back, bolder than ever and boasting a new name badge.
Meet the Note Aura Nismo, based on the more premium Note Aura – a posher mini people carrier that “aims to exceed the expectations of all occupants,” whatever that means – and possessing styling apparently parachuted down from Formula E.
Which thankfully doesn’t mean they’ve binned all but the driver’s seat and restricted your journeys to circling tracks laid out in industrial venues.
It means the Nismo’d Note now produces actual downforce, though Nissan has neglected to quote a figure. Lest we chuckle at its smallness, probably.
That’s despite the powertrain beneath being no more powerful than before. It’s one of Nissan’s ‘e-power’ setups, which means electric motors powering the front wheels and a 1.2-litre 3cyl engine slotted on board as a generator only.
Total outputs are 135hp and 300Nm. Enough to have a little fun, we suspect, but the former is small fry in the world of hot hatches nowadays. Especially hot hatches that are actually people carriers with downforce.
Still, it’s a joyous looking thing to behold, the incongruity of all the Nismo stripes, wings and splitters adorning such a practical shape raising a big smile here.
Then there’s the pair of enveloping Recaros up front; we’d wager at least two occupants’ expectations have been exceeded with those.
Don’t get too attached, though, because we’d bet our Itsu loyalty stamps that it’ll never officially leave the JDM market for sales elsewhere.
But if Nissan of Europe could scoop out its nifty electro-hybrid power and squeeze it into a Micra, we’re all ears. Especially if the seats are coming too…
STORY Stephen Dobie