Nissan aims at Tesla's sweet spot with Ariya SUV

Ginny Buckley

22 Sep 2022

Nissan has finally revealed its second electric car, a decade after it launched the pioneering Leaf - and it looks as though it has been worth the wait.

The new Ariya is a ‘crossover’ between an SUV and a hatchback with coupé-like lines. It is due to go on sale in the second half of 2021 with prices of around £40k rising to just over £50k. The launch timing and price position will put it squarely up against the Tesla Model Y, the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Polestar’s new 2.

This ‘sweet spot;’ is set to be a key battleground for EV makers in 2021, coming above models like the Leaf and Kia e-Niro but being more affordable than expensive electric SUVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.

Nissan Ariya New Nissan slots above the Leaf and Kia e-Niro but below the Jaguar I-Pace

In terms of length, the 4,595mm Nissan is shorter than the 4,750mm Model Y but longer than the Volvo and Nissan’s own conventionally-powered, best-selling Qashqai. This combination of 'crossover' and EV - Nissan's two areas of expertise and success - means the company expects the Ariya to outsell the Leaf.

To ensure this success, Nissan has ensured it has the statistics to take on its rivals, with an official range of up to 310 miles from an 87kWh battery on some models. Two and four wheel drive versions will be offered with power outputs ranging from 215 to 389bhp. The cheapest Ariya has two-wheel-drive and either a 63kWh or 87kWh battery, eclipsing the Tesla’s 55 and 75kWh packs. However, the Model Y is still capable of going further on a charge at 315 miles versus the Nissan’s 310.

Nissan Ariya Ariya has either a 63kWh or 87kWh battery - bigger than Tesla's

In a controversial move, Nissan has abandoned the CHAdeMO rapid charging format used with the Leaf and e-NV200 for European-spec cars and has adopted the CCS standard. The 63kWh versions will have AC charging limited to 7.4 kW, but upgrading to the bigger battery brings the capability to accept 22kW, three phase power. All Ariyas can also support rapid DC charging up to 130kW using CCS. The CHAdeMO format only currently allows 50kW feeds.

This is seen as crucial for customers of the new car, according to Nissan Europe's head or electric cars, Helen Perry: "We have a lot of data from Leaf users and we know that they don't fast charge all that often. But the Ariya is more likely to be used as a family's first car and the ability to rapid charge as quickly as possible is important."

The adoption of CCS does have a drawback though - it will rule out the use of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) systems for the foreseeable future. The only commercially-available options currently use the CHAdeMO connections.

Nissan Ariya Nissan has abandoned the CHAdeMO rapid charging format in favour of CCS

In terms of other specifications, the Nissan does lose out in ultimate speed terms to the Tesla, with the flagship e-4ORCE 87kWh Performance managing the 0-60 sprint in 5.1 seconds. This is hardly slow but is way behind the fastest Model Y’s 3.5 seconds. 

The extra power of the Ariya over the Leaf is good news for caravanners, boating enthusiasts and people who go to the council tip. Unlike its smaller stablemate the Ariya can be fitted with a tow bar and will be rated to pull trailers up to 1500kg.

The interior promises to be big enough to make a trailer obsolete though. The climate control system hardware has been installed under the bonnet, allowing the designers to make the dashboard much smaller to free up space. The Ariya’s slim seats also take up less space, resulting in legroom which rivals far bigger cars and, Nissan promises, will comfortably exceed the interior space of the Tesla. 

Nissan Ariya Designers have made the dashboard much smaller to free up passenger space

The Ariya will also be the first Nissan model to use over the air software updates and will also feature an updated version of the Leaf’s ProPilot ‘self driving’ functions. Although this is not comparable to the Tesla system in terms of functionality, it has been upgraded to include a connection to the navigation system data. The system will adjust the car’s speed based on upcoming road conditions, such as slowing before a sharp corner. 

Will it be enough to knock the Tesla Model Y off course? Let us know what you think.

Nissan Ariya Ariya will also be the first Nissan model to use over the air software updates

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