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Nissan Leopard: Wikis

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This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Japanese Wikipedia.

The Nissan Leopard is a line of luxury sports cars built by Japanese carmaker Nissan. The Leopard began life in 1980 and was discontinued in 1999. Leopards were initially based on the Japanese market Nissan Skyline and Nissan Laurel and the American Datsun 910/Nissan Maxima, then later based on the chassis of their Nissan Cedric and Nissan Gloria contemporaries and were rear wheel drive. Final versions were the contributing factors to Nissan's Infiniti M and J products.

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First generation: F30 (1980-1986)

Nissan Leopard F30
Production 1980-1986
Body style(s) 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Engine(s) 1.8 L I4 Z18 105 PS
2.0 L I6 L20E 125 PS
2.0 L I6 L20ET 145 PS
2.8 L I6 L28E 155 PS
3.0 L V6 VG30ET 230 PS
Transmission(s) 3 speed automatic
4 speed automatic
5 speed manual
Wheelbase 2,625 mm (103.3 in)
Length 4,630 mm (182.3 in)
Width 1,690 mm (66.5 in)
Height 1,345 mm (53.0 in)
Curb weight 1,315 kg (2,900 lb)
Related Nissan Bluebird

The first Leopard (also known as Leopard TR-X) was introduced in September 1980 as a contender in the upper medium class of cars. The angular body, available as a 2-door hardtop coupe and a 4-door hardtop sedan, featured very thin C- and D-pillars and large glass surfaces. The Leopard featured some industry firsts, for instance a fuel consumption gauge in the dashboard. Originally the Leopard was available with naturally aspirated inline four and six cylinder engines of 1800, 2000 and 2800 cc displacement; in September 1982 (when the car received a mild facelift) a two liter turbo-engine was added. In 1984 a limited Turbo Grand Edition with the 300ZX's 3 litre turbo engine joined the line-up.

According to a translated Japanese Wikipedia article on the Leopard, the car was based on the North American market Datsun 810 and shared a common platform with the Datsun 910, which was renamed the Nissan Maxima. The Japanese version had side view mirrors mounted on the front fenders and had small wipers attached to the top of the mirrors to remove accumulated rain on the surface of the mirror. The vehicles styling seemed to be influenced by the Toyota Soarer, however when the Leopard was introduced, the styling was already a little dated as the Soarer had been recently updated.

A list of the various trim levels the Leopard was initially available as:
L-280X SF
L-200X SF
200X SF
200X CF
180X CF
180X F

After a mild styling update, the car was offered in the following variations:
300 TURBO GRAND EDITION
TURBO ZGX SUPER EDITION
TURBO ZGX
TURBO SGX
200X ZGX
200X SGX
180X SGX
180X GX


Second generation: F31 (1986-1992)

Nissan Leopard F31
Nissan Leopard coupe
Also called Infiniti M30
Production 1986-1992
Body style(s) 2-door "B" pillar hardtop coupe
Layout FR layout
Engine(s) 2.0 L V6 VG20E 115 PS
2.0 L Turbo-V6 VG20DET 210 PS
3.0 L V6 VG30DE 200 PS
3.0 L Turbo-V6 VG30DET 255 PS
Transmission(s) 4 speed automatic
5 speed manual
Wheelbase 2,615 mm (103.0 in)
Length 4,805 mm (189.2 in)
Width 1,690 mm (66.5 in)
Height 1,370 mm (53.9 in)
Curb weight 1,520 kg (3,400 lb)
Related Nissan Skyline R31
Nissan Laurel C32

The F31 Leopard appeared in February 1986 and was only available as a luxury GT coupé. In the US, 5000 Leopards were imported and 2500 of those were converted to convertibles by ASC. In the USA, the F31 was called the Infiniti M30. It was Infiniti's first-ever coupe, as well as the only convertible offered by Infiniti at the time. This vehicle shared a platform with the Nissan Skyline R31, and the Nissan Laurel C32 to share development costs.

The F30 and F31 Leopards were direct competitors to the Toyota Soarer. Whereas the Soarer had the 1G-GTE twin-turbo 2L straight six, the very similar-looking Leopard coupé came with the options of a VG30DET, VG30DE, VG20DET (post 1988), VG20ET (prior to 1988), and VG20E. Early 2.0 turbo versions had the single-cam (per bank) VG20ET, but from August 1988, the quad cam version appeared, the body was also face lifted at this time. Available in top spec form was the 3 litre VG30DET engine which produced 190 kW/255 hp. Only the VG20ET and VG20DET engines had an intercooler, and only VG20E engined examples had the option of manual transmission.

Compared to the Soarer, the Leopard was somewhat more angular, but with neater detailing around the windows. The windows were also flush, without the strange proportions of the Soarer's glass.

The VG20 V6 is not quite as smooth as the Soarer's 1G-GTE straight-six, and actually has a lower rev limit. It produces surprisingly good torque in turbo form, and is generally quite a reliable unit.

The Leopard F31 had no factory options, but dealers offered the addition of a cellular phone and a CD player/changer. Like the Skyline and 300ZX, the Leopard coupe was a front-engined and rear-wheel drive vehicle. The RE4R01A 4 speed automatic with electronic overdrive was used as well as a 5 speed manual transmission, that wasn't available on the USA-spec Infiniti M30. The differential was a Nissan R200-type open differential.

The Leopard F31 was equipped with the Sonar Suspension II system that was also installed on other Nissan vehicles at the time, which featured a sonar module mounted under the front bumper that scanned the road surface and adjusted the suspension accordingly via actuators mounted on the strut towers. There was also a switch on the center console that allowed the driver to change between "Sport" and "Comfort" settings—essentially "firm" and "soft", respectively.

The Leopard F31's production run lasted for 7 years, ending in 1992 due to lagging sales. Nobody knows exactly how many models were produced, but it has been said that just over 5000 were made, half coupes, half convertibles for the USA market.

Third generation: Y32 (1992-1997)

Nissan Leopard J Ferie Y32
Leopard J Ferie Y32
Also called Infiniti J30
Production 1992-1997.5
Assembly Tochigi, Tochigi, Japan
Successor Nissan Cefiro
Class Mid-size luxury car
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Engine(s) V6 3.0 L VG30DE 200PS
V8 4.1 L VH41DE 270PS
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,760 mm (108.7 in)
Length 4,880 mm (192.1 in)
Width 1,770 mm (69.7 in)
Height 1,390 mm (54.7 in)
Curb weight 1,650 kg (3,600 lb)
Fuel capacity 19 US gal.
Related Y32 Nissan Cima,Nissan Cedric, Nissan Gloria

The third generation was called Leopard J Ferie (férié is French for holiday) and appeared in June 1992. It came only in saloon body style and followed the rounded shape of the U13 Bluebirds and Altimas. It was sold in North America as the Infiniti J30. It is possible the shape of the "J Ferie" may have been influenced from the first generation Ford Taurus a sales success at the time.

The Y32 Leopard was a rear wheel drive luxury car. The Y32 Leopard went into production on April 7, 1992 as a 1993 model to replace the Nissan Leopard F31 (which was a coupe), and was launched in the United States at the same time as its competitor, the Lexus ES. The car was designed to slot between the smaller Nissan Primera and the larger Nissan Cedric. Also, it was fairly small but featured rounded styling uncharacteristic of the crowded near-luxury market. The styling was meant to convey a more sport-minded appearance, in comparison to the Nissan Cedric, Gloria and Cima, on which this car shared a platform.

Power came from a 3.0 L VG30DE V6 (shared with the 300ZX) which produced 210 hp and 192 lb·ft (260 N·m) of torque. While it shares the Y32 Chassis with the Nissan Cedric/Gloria, it was also related to the Nissan Cima where it was offered with both the VG30DE and VH41DE V8. No turbo was available on this particular Leopard sedan.

All J30s/Leopard J Feries were built in Tochigi, Tochigi, Japan. Production of the Y32 Leopard ended on June 18, 1997, replaced by the Nissan Cefiro-Infiniti I30 (introduced in 1996).

One of the numerous reasons the Y32 Leopard failed was that its most distinguishing feature was a lack of interior room. It had the distinction of being a mid-size car with the space of a subcompact (less than a Sentra) due to its sloping roofline and rounded down trunk. The styling of the vehicle was more favorably regarded in Japan than it was in the USA. Total production of this vehicle was around 7,000 units internationally.

This version of the Leopard was the first car sold in Japan to include a passenger-side airbag as standard equipment.


Fourth generation: Y33 (1996-1999)

Nissan Leopard Y33
Nissan Leopard Y33
Production 1996-1999
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout / AWD
Engine(s) 2.5 Turbo-I6 RB25DET, 235 hp, 4WD
3.0 L V6 VG30E 160 hp
3.0 L V6 VQ30DD 230 hp
3.0 L Turbo-V6 VQ30DET 270 hp
Transmission(s) 4 speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,800 mm (110.2 in)
Length 4,895 mm (192.7 in)
Width 1,765 mm (69.5 in)
Height 1,425 mm (56.1 in)
Curb weight 1,610 kg (3,500 lb)
Related Y33 Nissan Cima,Nissan Cedric, Nissan Gloria

The fourth and last generation of the Leopard, introduced in March 1996, again was offered as a hardtop sedan only, using a frameless side window approach, but using a "B" pillar to improve side impact crash resistance and vehicle solidity. The "J Ferie" name was dropped for this version of the Leopard. It was based on the Y33 Cedric/Gloria and Cima chassis. Development of this vehicle had begun before the recession had begun in Japan, so when this vehicle appeared, economic conditions had already begun to soften, which had an effect on overall sales. Vehicles being offered from Nissan at the time overlapped with companion platform mates, and there were few distinctions between the other large Nissan sedans.

It wasn't available in North America where the Infiniti mid-range had been replaced by the Nissan Cefiro/Infiniti I30. A V8 engine was no longer offered, and AWD was offered on the RB25DET turbocharged Straight 6 engine. This vehicle also utilized Nissan's direct fuel injection engine configuration, which supplied fuel directly inside the engine cylinder, instead of inside the intake manifold just before entering the cylinders.

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