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Meet the Nissan 1.5-litre with more power per kilo than an F1 engine

Nissan ‘DIG-R T R’ 1.5-litre engine outputs 400bhp yet weighs a mere 40kg.

Nissan and motorsport partner Nismo have unveiled a new engine that will power the 2014 ZEOD RC electric race car. Engines are usually pretty boring, admittedly, but stick with us ─ the codenamed ‘DIG-T R’ is no ordinary specimen.

Nissan says the DIG-T R 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, which is a mere 500mm tall, 400mm long and 200mm wide, produces an impressive 400bhp and 380Nm (280lb/ft) of torque at 7,500rpm yet weighs just 40kg. That means a total of 10hp for every kilogram.

To put that into perspective, Renault’s V6 turbocharged engine that will be used in its new Formula One car produces a combined 760bhp and weighs 145kg (excluding the battery), which equates to 5.24bhp per kg.

The DIG-T R engine in the Nissan ZEOD RC Le Mans racecar will act as part of a hybrid powertrain, with the driver will able to switch between electric and gasoline power at will. Regenerative braking will be used to turn the force of slowing down into power for recharging the batteries.

The ZEOD RC car will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14th. Nissan believes the ZEOD RC will become the first ever car to lap the 8.5-mile Circuit de lar Sarthe using just electric power. Unless it breaks down, of course.

“Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport,” Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox commented.

So will we see a Nissan with the DIG-T R engine in tow? “We’re aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focussing on downsizing. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future,” Cox added. How about two of them in the next GTR?

Scroll on down to see NISMO chief Shoichi Miyatani holding the engine (how better to emphasise its size?) and the ZEOD racecar.

Nissan 1.5-litre DIG-T R turbo engine pictures

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