Eleven. That’s the number of years that separates the Nissan Leaf, the brand’s first electric car, from the new Ariya crossover. A long wait may be due to the joint strategy with Renault, the alliance requires.
A little look back, in 2017, the year of the presentation of the IMx, the concept car on which the Nissan Ariya is based. We’ll have to wait until 2019 for Nissan to unveil the Ariya Concept, a 95% complete electric crossover. The remaining 5% will be spent on chassis development.
Finally, Ariya was made official in July 2020. Initially, this SUV was supposed to be on the market from mid-2021. In the meantime, the Covid-19 pandemic has passed there and, above all, the shortage of semiconductors has had the effect of delaying its arrival on the market by several months.
It was therefore time to get to know the Ariya, and it was on the Swedish roads that we were invited for a short hands-on. While we await Airya’s inclusion in our car comparison, we are already providing this handling to you.
CMF-EV Alliance Common Platform
Regardless of the viewing angle, the Ariya presents a very futuristic look, characterized by a receding roofline and a body that gives pride to curves. Its front end features a large closed V-shaped grille adorned with the new luminous logo framed by long flashing lights. The front LED headlights are very thin, as is the strip of light that adorns the rear facade across its entire width. This headband is topped by a spoiler that gives the impression of dealing with a Lexus or an Audi Q8.
The luggage compartment has a very nice design, perhaps a little too much for our taste.
The Nissan Ariya is based on the same common CMF-EV Alliance platform. A total of three battery and motor combinations will be offered in Europe.
The Japanese crossover will also be available in two-wheel drive (traction) with two battery capacities: 63 kWh (gross capacity of 66 kWh) and 87 kWh (gross capacity of 91 kWh). They will drive an electric motor of 160 kW (218 hp; 300 Nm torque) or 178 kW (242 hp; 300 Nm torque) depending on the version. The top speed is limited to 160 km/h. 0 to 100 km/h is shot in 7.5 s and 7.6 s respectively. The range varies from 403 to 533 km (WLTP cycles).
For drivers looking for dynamics, an all-wheel drive version called e-4ORCE is also offered with two electric motors with a total output of 225 kW (306 hp; torque of 600 Nm) and powered by the 87 kWh battery. . The maximum speed is 200 km/h for a 0 to 100 km/h reached in 5.7 seconds. Autonomy is advertised for 500 km (WLTP cycle).
On the charging side, the SUV comes standard with a charger whose alternating current is limited to 7.4 kW. Note that Nissan offers an optional 22kW charger – only on the 87kWh version – for a ticket of €1000.
Finally, the Nissan Ariya is compatible with fast charging (up to 130 kW in DC) via its Combo CCS connector. The manufacturer advertises a charging time of 30 min to recover up to 350 km on the 87 kWh version.
MA’s Japanese Philosophy
MA is a Japanese philosophical paradox”at the heart of Japanese design philosophy and culture, where absence can be as important as presence“explains the Japan House website in a dedicated article. Specifically, this “void” or this “pause” – MA can be sound or gesture – “gives a new form and a new meaning to the whole“. The cabin of the Nissan Ariya is therefore based on this MA, where the space is manageable, with minimalist controls, such as the air conditioning.
As soon as you step into the cabin, you thus have the feeling of being in a Zen living room, where tranquility reigns. This feeling is enhanced by the space in the legs. The rear passengers will also be served thanks to a wheelbase of 2.77 meters.
On the other hand, the boot volume – which can be divided – is limited to 468 liters (rear seat raised), or even 415 liters in the four-wheel drive version (e-4ORCE 87 kWh).
A zen but smart interior
Nissan Ariya does not forget to be modern and smart. One thinks in particular of this electrically adjustable center console, on which an elegant gear selector is located. This console includes a dedicated area with touch buttons including the e-Pedal Step function, inaugurated on the second generation Leaf. We will have the opportunity to return to that a little later.
Another design gem, the tactile and haptic controls for air conditioning and heating are integrated into a headband that looks like a long piece of mulberry-like bark. Again there is a nod to Japanese art. The control buttons disappear when the ignition is switched off.
Modernity is also felt at the level of the cockpit with two digital screens of 12.3 inches each (diagonal of 31.24 cm). The first, non-touch, functions as an instrument cluster and comes with a 10.8″ head-up system (27.43 cm diagonal).
As for the second, tactile, it is the control tower. We can only be happy to finally see Nissan modernize its infotainment with a responsive screen and studied ergonomics. In terms of design, however, we are very close to what we find on the Kia EV6 or Ioniq 5.
400 km range
It’s time for us to hit the road. Our test version, the Evolve finish (top of the range), has the smallest battery at 63 kWh (useful capacity).
First observation, despite its 1914 kg, the Nissan Ariya is dynamic, both at start-up and during restart. On the other hand, it is better to take it easy when it comes to taking tight turns, otherwise the roll is marked. Nothing unacceptable, but the type of chassis is very comfort oriented with very flexible suspension settings. The seats nevertheless provide good support. In any case, the Zen philosophy remains present on the road, with excellent operational noise attenuation, certainly due to the treatment of the windows.
A word about the One-Pedal pioneered on the Leaf, which turns the accelerator pedal into a brake pedal as soon as you take your foot off. This has the effect of decelerating the vehicle significantly – and recuperating energy – until it comes to a complete stop. On our Ariya, the system – renamed e-Pedal STEP – is somewhat different. As soon as the gas pedal is released, the car slows down, but does not stop completely. Use the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.
The intensity of e-Pedal STEP, which acts as regenerative braking, varies depending on the selected driving mode (Eco, Standard and Sport). Finally, the internal ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system is fine, while the connected route planner is quite well done. We just regret having to trigger the preconditioning of the battery ourselves, based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
On our way we crossed many fixed radars. Fortunately, we could count on the TomTom navigation system, which was quite responsive and accurately signaled the dangers on the road.
After driving around 180 km on various roads and in the rain, our average consumption was around 15 kWh/100 km. This figure suggests a range of just over 400 km, in line with the manufacturer’s announcement. Of course, we will be keen to verify these figures during a more extensive test on our French roads.
They say it’s better late than never, but in the case of the Nissan Ariya, it’s still unfortunate that the manufacturer waited so long to offer another electric vehicle when it was a pioneer in this niche. In his defense, the Covid crisis has been there, not to mention the shortage of semiconductors.
Despite an attractive design and a welcoming and neat interior, the Ariya will have a hard time handling the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, Skoda Enyaq iV, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and other Kia EV6. Not to mention that the entry ticket at €47,300 does not allow you to benefit from 100% of the organic bonus.