The Nissan Leopard is a line of sport/luxury cars built by Japanese carmaker Nissan. The Leopard began life in 1980 and was discontinued in 1999. The Leopard 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.
The first Leopard (also known as Leopard TR-X) was introduced in September 1980 as a contender in the upper medium class of cars, including its primary Toyota contender, the Toyota Chaser. The angular body, available as a two-door hardtop coupé "personal luxury car", and a four-door hardtop sedan, which featured very slim C- and D-pillars and large glass surfaces. The coupe featured a "glass-to-glass" rear window sharing the very slim C- and D-pillars from the sedan. The angular appearance was shared with the Fairlady Z, but the coupe was exclusive to Nissan Motor Store locations, while the sedan was exclusive to Nissan Bluebird Store Japanese Nissan dealerships. The coupe replaced the Nissan Cedric/Gloria coupe and the Nissan Laurel coupe. The wind resistance coefficient of the two-door version is 0.37. At the time of introduction, the two body styles both carried the same price tags. The Leopard featured some industry firsts, for instance a fuel consumption gauge in the dashboard.
Nissan Leopard TR-X Turbo SGX coupe
Originally the Leopard was available with naturally aspirated inline four- and six-cylinder engines of 1,800, 2,000, and 2,800 cc displacement; the largest engine received an electronic engine management system developed together with Hitachi, and was called NAPS-Z. The 1.8 liter fours were also originally available with a four-speed manual transmission, all others received five-speeds as standard (or an optional three-speed automatic). In July 1981 a two-liter turbocharged engine was added. Available as a GX, SGX, and ZGX, it had the same maximum output (145 PS) as did the more expensive and heavier 2.8.
In September 1982, the Leopard received a mild facelift and with it, the under-performing 2.8 was dropped from the lineup. In June 1984 a limited Turbo Grand Edition with the 300ZX's 230 PS (169 kW) 3 litre turbo engine joined the line-up.
Nissan Leopard TR-X Turbo SGX coupe
The car shared many components with the six-cylinder version of the Datsun Bluebird 910, sold in North America as the Datsun 810 (and later renamed the Nissan Maxima), but used a platform based on the Nissan Skyline R30. The Japanese version had side view mirrors mounted on the front fenders and (uniquely) had small wipers attached to the top of the mirrors to remove accumulated rain and dirt from the surface of the mirrors. The vehicle's styling seemed to be influenced by its more successful main competitor, the Toyota Soarer. However, when the Leopard was introduced, the styling was already a little dated and the coupé-only Soarer did significantly better in the market.
A list of the various trim levels and engines that the Leopard was available with at its introduction, this was done so as to give Japanese buyers a choice of engine displacement sizes that obligated them to pay more annual road tax:
The F31 Leopard was directly competing mainly to the Toyota Soarer, Mazda Cosmo, and the Honda Legend coupe in 1986. Whereas Toyota offered the Soarer with several iterations of its 2 liter inline six and the single turbo 7M-GTE, Nissan had either non-turbo or turbo V6 inside its, then new, Leopard. The displacements of the engines were of either a 2.0L or a 3.0L, and they were the 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 bodywork was also facelifted at this time, and now featured a somewhat smoother front appearance. It was the facelifted version that was exported to the USA, and approximately 12,000 Leopards were sold (with around 6,000 of those being converted to convertibles by ASC). In the USA, the F31 was called the Infiniti M30. Output of the VG30DE engine also increased marginally at the time of the facelift. Available in top spec form was the new turbocharged 3 litre VG30DET engine which produces 255 PS (188 kW). Only the smaller VG20ET and VG20DET engines had intercoolers.
The installation of 2.0 L engines in shorter vehicles was that so the lower trim packages offered Japanese buyers the ability to purchase a luxury coupe that didn't incur a yearly tax for owning a vehicle that didn't comply with Japanese Government dimension regulations. The use of a smaller engine also offered Japanese buyers yearly road tax savings.
1986-1988 Nissan Leopard XJ-II rear
The angular bodywork was reflected in the companion fastback sportscar, called the Fairlady ZX, but the coupe remained exclusive in Japan to Nissan Motor Store locations. The Leopard coupe styling was offered as an alternative to the Fairlady ZX's fastback appearance.
Trim packages started with the top level Ultima Grand Selection with the 3.0 V6 engine, the Ultima with the 3.0 V6, (later the Ultima received the 3.0 V6 turbo), the XS-II Grand Selection with the 2.0 V6 Turbo, the XS-II with the 2.0 V6 Turbo, the XS with the V6 Turbo, the XJ-II with a 2.0 V6 and the base model called the XJ with the 2.0 V6. All models came with a digital instrument cluster, all models except the XS and the XJ came with stereo and cruise control buttons installed in the steering wheel center pad, and both Grand Selection models were installed with a 6-inch TV screen installed in the dashboard below the A/C controls that allowed passengers to watch broadcast TV if the transmission was in Park and the parking brake applied. The video entertainment system also had RCA connections to attach a camcorder and watch recorded video. The stereo and video equipment was supplied by Sony. On top of that, the Ultima models featured a keyless entry card.
1987 Nissan Leopard 3.0 Ultima interior
The Leopard F31 had few factory options, but dealers offered the addition of a cellular phone installed in a dedicated compartment in the dashboard above the glove compartment where a modern passenger side airbag would now be located, and a choice of a cassette tape changer with a separate single disc CD player later upgraded to a CD changer. Catering to Japanese tastes for luxury, the Leopard wasn't available in leather for all trim packages, with wool interior offered on the top three trim packages. The front passenger seat was also equipped with what Nissan called "Partner Comfort Seat" where the top portion of the front passenger seat was further articulated to tilt forward, supporting the passengers shoulders while allowing the seatback structure to recline. The front edge of the passenger seat cushion was also adjustable. This was created by Dr. Yoshiyuki Matsuoka who worked for Nissan starting in 1982.Update - The Nissan Leopard had a few factory options and accessories. This was also more prominent with the Grand Selection version.http://www.f31club.com/yz3-2/
Like the Skyline and Fairlady ZX, the Leopard coupe was a front-engined and rear-wheel drive vehicle. The RE4R01A four-speed automatic with electronic overdrive was used as well as a five-speed manual transmission, which was only available in the domestic Japanese market on the lower trim level XJ-II and the XJ 2.0 V6 without a turbo. The differential was a Nissan R200-type open differential.
The Leopard F31 was equipped with the DUET-SS "Super Sonic 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 "Auto", "Soft", "Medium" and "Hard" settings on all models except the XS model, which removed the "Auto" selection.
The Leopard F31's production run lasted for seven years, ending in June 1992 due to lagging sales. Seven years was very long by period Japanese standards, nearly equating the runs of two generations of most Japanese cars of the time. Nobody knows exactly how many Infiniti M30 were produced for the US market, but it has been said that just over 17,000 were made. It is unproven how many were coupes and how many were convertibles. The convertible was available between 1991-1992. 38,000 F31 Leopards were sold in Japan during its seven-year production span.
The third generation was called Leopard J Ferie (jour férié is French for holiday) and appeared in June 1992. The word férié was also shared with the Honda Civic Ferio sold at the same time. The use of the word "holiday" in an automobile name was previously done by Oldsmobile for products manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s with a hardtop bodystyle. It came only in saloon body style and followed the rounded shape of Bluebirds, Altimas, NX, and its companion sports car offering at Nissan Bluebird Store Japanese dealerships, the Fairlady ZX during this time period. It was sold in North America as the Infiniti J30. All J30s/Leopard J Feries were built in Tochigi, Tochigi, Japan. Production of the Y32 Leopard ended on June 18, 1997. It had a MacPherson strut front suspension with a multi-link suspension for the rear wheels, and utilized HICAS, Nissan's four wheel steering technology. The Y32 Leopard was a rear wheel driveluxury car that started production April 7, 1992 as a 1993 model to replace the Nissan Leopard F31 (which was a 2-door coupe), and was launched in Japan after its competitor, the Toyota Aristo.
Power came from a 3.0 LVG30DEV6 (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 VH41DEV8. No turbo was available on this particular Leopard sedan. In Japan, three trim levels were offered, with the Type F offered with the VG30DE V6, the Type X with VH41DE V8 and a shared equipment level with the Type F, followed by the Type X-S sharing the equalivent content level with the North American V6 equipped J30, and the Type L which had the same equipment level as the Type X with the smaller V6 engine shared with the Type L-S sharing the equipment package with the Type X-S also V6 equipped.
This generation was the first time an engine with a displacement under 2.0 L wasn't offered in Japan, and resulted in Japanese buyers being liable for a higher annual road tax bill which affected sales.
To establish that this was a luxury vehicle, the plush leather interior was designed with assistance from Poltrona Frau of Italy. The seats were made by Poltrona Frau at a rate of only five a day. The interior treatment continued to use the contrasting arrangement used in the larger Nissan Infiniti Q45 with a dark color used for the dashboard, and center console, with a lighter shade color used inside for the seats, interior door panels, headliner, carpet, and carpeted floor mats. The driver's side window controls had an unusual placement in that the drivers window switch was both one-touch express down and double-sized, meaning it was the same width as two conventional window switches towards the top, with the front and rear passenger window switches further down, with the window lockout switch installed next to the front passenger switch, instead of the drivers window switch. The front passenger and rear passenger window switches were thumb activated, installed at the top of the interior door pull handle. This version of the Leopard was the first car sold in Japan to include a passenger-side airbag as standard equipment.
One of the numerous reasons the Y32 Leopard didn't meet projected sales goals 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 Sunny) 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.
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.
As the economic downturn of the post-"Japanese bubble economy" began to take effect, the Leopard suffered diminished sales, and directly competed with other Nissan large sedans and performance cars, and was discontinued.
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, borrowed from the Skyline. 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.