What is the Nissan Ariya?
The new Ariya will sit above the existing LEAF model and takes the form of a family-sized SUV. Nissan is hoping to tap into the vast global market for medium-sized electric SUVs and is aiming squarely at the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4, ŠKODA Enyaq iV and Tesla Model Y.
At just over 4.5 metres long and 1.8 metres wide, the new Ariya is almost identical in size to the cars it will be competing with. In terms of design, the newcomer marks a stark departure from the neat but somewhat functional LEAF, introducing a slick, flowing look that, according to Nissan, sets the new template for the brand’s next generation of electric cars. Which is good news.
It’s built on a new set of underpinnings (known as the CMF-EV platform) that it will share with the new Renault Megane E-Tech. The platform is essentially a universal floor, battery pack and motor assembly onto which Nissan and Renault design and build their respective cars.
Even in the odd but curiously alluring metallic brown of the launch cars, the Ariya looks a handsome package. The large grille and contrasting roof and pillars cleverly hide the bulk of the car, as do the enormous 20-inch wheels with matching wheel arch extensions.
Inside, the Ariya’s flat floor makes for a vast cabin with plenty of space for passengers. The dashboard is simple but neatly executed with all the displays arranged in a single screen assembly that spans just over half of the dashboard. Touch-sensitive buttons are integrated into wooden strip that spans the width of the car while the centre console slides back and forth to allow drivers to maximise the floor space.
At the back, two-wheel drive versions of the Ariya have a decently-sized 466 litre boot while all-wheel drive models offer 408 litres. That’s more than you’ll find in a new Nissan Qashqai but less than rivals such as the ŠKODA Enyaq and Tesla Model Y can deliver.
As Nissan owners have come to expect, the Ariya will come with a host of gadgets and technology. These include ProPILOT assistance systems, the brand’s famous ePedal along with Nissan’a Safety Shield, which includes Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking Technology.
Towing fans will also have reason to like the new Ariya. Both two and all-wheel drive versions will be homologated for towing duties with all versions rated at 1,500kg.
What's it like to drive?
Electrifying.com has only sampled the 63kWh two-wheel drive Evolve model - the one that weighs in at £41,845 - so far. And even that was on a test track, with what Nissan described as ‘very late prototype cars’.
Saying that, the results were very encouraging. The driving position is a little high-feeling for taller drivers, and you have to duck a bit getting into the back if you’re over 5ft 10, but the general space is good, and there’s a decent boot.
The good news continues once you’ve got going too; the steering is light and precise, and the Ariya immediately feels ultra-secure and predictable - all good things in a family SUV.
There are three modes to choose from, Eco, Normal and Sport, and they all do pretty much what you expect; Eco softens off the responses to give you the best chance of achieving the possible 223 miles of WLTP range, 'Normal' a happy medium and Sport makes things a bit more peppy, although the modes aren’t that far apart, so most of the time the mid-setting is the best.
The one thing the Ariya does do is feel properly light - especially with the smallest battery option - something most electric cars struggle with. It turns, stops and handles with authority, and although it’s not ‘sporty’ in any significant sense, it’s predictable and solid.
The front-wheel drive cars might not have the perfect 50:50 weight distribution of the e-Force versions, but they drive very nicely, probably thanks to a very low centre of gravity. And yes, there’s a light-touch ‘B’ mode for brake regeneration - when the car claws back energy during braking to add some charge to the battery - as well as proper Nissan e-Pedal for more aggressive stopping power without ever touching the traditional brake pedal.
One difference here is that the system is called e-Pedal Step, so the car will creep slightly in traffic like a normal automatic car, which just adds that little bit of functionality. The Ariya looks like it’ll be a cinch to drive in town, and feels narrower than some of the competition - again, good for threading through traffic.
We’ll have to wait to see if the e-Force four-wheel drive cars add anything to the driving experience, but going from our experience in the base of the range and least-powerful car, the Ariya is building on a solid set of basics.
Battery, range and charging
The Ariya will be available with a broad range that includes two battery size options, four power outputs and the option of front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
Buyers will be able to choose from 63kWh or 87kWh battery packs. The figures refer to the actual usable capacity rather than the overall size, so while the smaller pack may seem only fractionally bigger than the one offered in the 62kWh LEAF, the actual usable capacity of the LEAF pack is 56kWh.
Two-wheel drive versions can be specified with either pack with the 63kWh producing 214bhp and the 87kWh delivering 239bhp to the front wheels. Customers opting for the all-wheel drive or (e-4ORCE) versions, get two different power outputs with the standard 87kWh model generating 302bhp and the range-topping 87kWh Performance model packing 389bhp. Opt for the latter version and you can experience a 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds. Which is plenty fast enough.
In terms of the all-important range figures, we are still waiting for Nissan to release final WLTP data. Nissan’s own figures suggest that the entry level 63kWh model will have a driving range of around 223 miles while the 87kWh version will offer up to 310 miles on a full charge. All-wheel-drive models will deliver slightly lower ranges with Nissan estimating that the 87kWh standard model will return 285 miles and the Performance version delivering 248 miles on a charge.
All versions will be able to accept a rapid DC charge at speeds of up to 130kW, which is on a par if not fractionally quicker than its rivals with the notable exception of the Tesla Model Y, which can charge at well over 200kW.
The 63kWh model will be able to charge from 10-80% in an estimated 31 minutes while the 87kWh version will do the same in around 35 minutes.
The arrival of the Ariya also marks the end of the road for Nissan’s association with CHAdeMO charging hardware. While the LEAF will continue to use the connector, the Ariya, along with all future Nissan electric models will use the more common CCS charging port. 63kWh versions come equipped with a 7.4kW AC charger for domestic use, 87kWh models include a 22kW three-phase charger.
How much will it cost?
The cheapest 63kWh two-wheel drive model starts at £41,845 while the range tops out with the 87kWh Performance variant at £58,440. Although that makes it look more expensive than rivals such as the Volkswagen ID.4 and ŠKODA Enyaq, Nissan claims the Ariya's resale values are predicted to be much higher than all the leading rivals, meaning the finance and lease payments for most customers will be similar to cheaper models.
In terms of trim levels, the launch line-up comprises 'Advance', 'Evolve', 'e-4ORCE Evolve' and 'e-4ORCE Performance'. Only the entry-level Advance is available with the smaller 63kWh battery, with the others getting an 87kWh battery.
When will it arrive?
Nissan has already opened order books for the Ariya and is expecting the first customers to take delivery later this summer.