Bold new Nissan Ariya is pivotal electric SUV with 498km range

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 15 Jul 2020

The new Nissan Ariya electric SUV features bold styling, a range of up to 498km (310-miles) and a 389bhp performance variant – and Nissan claims it will “mark a new era for electric vehicles” by combining high levels of tech with “exciting” handing.

The crucial new model is set to go on sale next year as a rival to the Tesla Model Y and Volkswagen ID 4 and will sit above the successful Leaf in the Japanese firm’s EV line-up.

The Ariya retains the bold styling of the concept unveiled at last year’s Tokyo motor show and showcases Nissan’s new brand identity with “seamless, elegant and fresh” styling. It’s the first model built on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s new CMF-EV electric architecture, with Nissan operating chief Ashwani Gupta saying it represents the start of “a new chapter for Nissan”. He said the firm has “strived to amplify the fun-to-drive aspect of electric mobility,” adding: “It’s not just a great EV crossover, but also a great vehicle – a true force of wonder that will take us into the future.”

The Ariya will be sold in five versions in the UK, with single-motor rear-wheel-drive and twin-motor four-wheel-drive powertrains and a choice of 63kWh and 87kWh batteries.

The 63kWh single-motor model will offer 215bhp and a range of 223 miles (358km), while it’s 239bhp and a 310-mile range for the 87kWh car. Both rear-drive versions will produce 221lb ft, enabling a 0-62mph (100km) time of around 7.5sec and a top speed of 99mph (160km).

The twin-motor powertrain uses Nissan’s new e-4orce four-wheel drive system, which the firm calls the “spiritual offspring” of the system used in the GT-R supercar. It employs a regenerative rear-motor braking system to minimise vehicle pitch and smooth the ride.

The 63kWh Ariya e-4orce will produce 275bhp and 413lb ft and have a range of 211 miles (339km). The standard 87kWh version will offer 302bhp, 442lb ft and a 285-mile (458km) range.

A range-topping e-4orce Performance model will use the 87kWh battery but produce 389bhp and 442lb ft and have a 248-mile (399km) range. It will cover 0-62mph (100km) in a claimed 5.1sec and, like both other e-4orce models, have a top speed of 124mph (200km).

The Ariya gets Standard, Sport and Eco driving modes, with e-4orce variants adding a Snow mode. Nissan claims the underfloor battery has been positioned to ensure 50:50 front/rear weight distribution, with flat underbody aerodynamics to boost stability. It also uses the Leaf’s e-Pedal regeneration system, allowing one-pedal driving.

Makoto Fukuda, the Ariya’s development chief, said the focus wasn’t just on achieving rapid acceleration but also on providing “maximum, usable performance in a wide range of driving conditions”

The Ariya is 4595mm long, 1850mm wide and 1660mm tall, with a 2775mm wheelbase. That makes it virtually the same size as VW’s forthcoming ID 4 electric SUV. The Ariya’s weight ranges from 1.8 to 2.3 tonnes, depending on spec.

The front of the car features a new ‘shield’ design and has a 3D ‘kumiko’ pattern under a smooth surface. In markets that allow it, the Nissan logo will be backlit with 20 LEDs. The side profile has a low-slung coupe roofline, with a single, horizon line linking the front and rear of the car. The back end has a distinctive C-pillar design, a high-mounted rear wing and a one-piece light bar. The Ariya rides on 19in or 20in wheels and has multi-link rear suspension.

The minimalist interior is similarly bold, with virtually all physical buttons replaced by capacitive, haptic-feedback switches built into the dashboard surface. A fold-out centre storage box is sited under the main instrument panel. There are also ‘Zero Gravity’ slim-profile seats, a 12.3-inch central touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital driver display and what Nissan says is one of the largest full-colour head-up displays in the class.

The Ariya will also be offered with a high level of driver assistance systems, including an enhanced version of the Leaf’s ProPilot system, with lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. Nissan’s Safety Shield active safety systems are standard.

The Ariya has a new voice control system and owners can use a Nissan smartphone app to check battery status and set climate controls remotely. Built-in 4G connectivity allows over-the-air updates, too.

The 63kWh cars will get a 7.4kW home charger, with 87kWh cars featuring a 22kW three-phase charger. There’s also a 130kW rapid-charger. Trim levels and pricing are yet to be finalised.

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