The new all-electric Nissan Ariya range has now been joined by the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive model; is this a better option than front-wheel drive for an SUV?
We’ve already driven the Nissan Ariya in front-wheel drive form and we thought it was a good all-round car, but one area for improvement was grip levels from the front-wheel drive chassis. We’ve now driven the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive model, which also has a larger 87 kWh battery delivering 314 miles of range, as well as more power, torque and performance (and cost) – so which Ariya should you go for?
The Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE adds all-wheel drive to the SUV (although Nissan refers to the Ariya as a ‘coupe crossover’). It does this by adding a second electric motor, on the rear axle, and this also means that power is increased to 306 PS, torque is doubled to 600 Nm, and there’s a quicker 0-62 mph acceleration time of 5.7 seconds. There’s also a larger 87 kWh battery compared to the front-wheel drive Ariya that we tested previously.
Although the Ariya remains spacious, with a flat floor giving good rear legroom, the all-wheel drive hardware means that the boot is reduced in size, and quite shallow, at 408 litres compared to the 466 litres for the front-wheel drive model.
The Ariya has a ‘power-sliding centre console’, which moves forwards and backwards at the push of a button; when it’s in a rearward position it opens up a big area between the front footwells and frees up space for the driver’s left leg.
The front-wheel drive Nissan Ariya was good to drive, but we did find that it struggled with grip on some surfaces. We were keen to test the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive model to see how this changed the car, and we’re pleased to report that we didn’t experience any challenges with grip levels.
Having two electric motors also doubles the torque and improves the performance, which also makes the Ariya a more desirable car. The e-4ORCE model still retains its comfortable ride quality and well-engineered suspension feel. Handling feels safe and secure rather than agile.
The gear selector is a ‘button’ that you pull towards yourself for Drive, which you can pull again for ‘B’ mode, which recovers more brake energy. You can also switch on the ‘ePedal’, which provides more brake recuperation, to the extent that when you lift your foot off the accelerator, the car almost comes to a halt without needing to press the brake. In our opinion this is a bit too much braking, and, while the ePedal is on, if you do put your foot on the brake when going down a hill, the braking can be jerky.
There are four driving modes: Standard, Eco, Sport and Snow (Snow being an extra mode for the e-4ORCE model). The car makes a noise when driving, which is mainly evident when in Sport mode, but this isn’t a particularly sporty or futuristic soundtrack as is the case in increasing numbers of other EVs. It’s worth noting that, unlike some cars, the drive modes don’t stay in the same mode next time you start the car – although the ePedal does stay on.
The Ariya’s interior follows the current fashion of removing virtually all physical buttons on the dashboard and replacing them with buttons on the touchscreen. On the right of the touchscreen is a column of shortcuts buttons for Home, Navigation, Media, Phone and Climate. Unusually, the very top button is a bell symbol, which is for ‘notifications’. The satnav mapping graphics aren’t as slick as most other rivals.
There are some other controls on the dark grey dashboard under the touchscreen, such as for drive modes, the ePedal, and heating and ventilation. These are ‘Haptic Touch Controls’, in other words there’s just writing printed on plastic, rather than a physical button that clicks when you touch it. Our personal opinion is that having some form of feedback when you touch a control is preferable, especially when driving.
Although there are some heating and ventilation controls under the touchscreen, there’s no button for the air conditioning, or to adjust where the ventilation comes from, so you need to click the climate button and then go into the climate screen to adjust these items.
The lane departure warning system results in the steering wheel vibrating when crossing a white line, which is less intrusive than the steering wheel being wrenched out of your hands in some other cars, but it’s still annoying and isn’t easy to switch off.
The Ariya has a maximum towing capability of 1,500kg for the all-wheel drive e-4ORCE model (750kg for the 2WD model).
The Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE Evolve 87 kWh has a WLTP combined range of up to 314 miles (which is more practical than the 250 miles of the Ariya Advance 63kWh 2WD). During a week of mixed driving our e-4ORCE Evolve 87 kWh test car averaged 256 miles on a full charge.
The Ariya has a maximum DC rapid charging rate of 130 kW, and 7.4 kW for AC charging, with 22 kW optional. The Ariya 87 kWh can gain up to 217 miles with a 30-minute rapid charge.
One interesting thing about the Ariya is that Nissan has ditched the CHAdeMO charging connector of the LEAF and the e-NV200 van in favour of the more common CCS connector.
Our Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE Evolve test car cost £58,590, which is getting quite pricey, although the Ariya range starts at £46,145.
The Ariya is available with front-wheel drive and a 63 kWh or 87 kWh battery, or with e-4ORCE all-wheel drive and the 87 kWh battery. Each option has trim levels of Advance and Evolve.
The ‘Advance’ grade includes ProPILOT with Navi-Link, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Lane Keep Assist, Traffic Jam Pilot, Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Full Auto Park, Apple Car Play and 360 degree Around View Monitor. There are also options to enhance the Advance, including the Bose Tech Pack or the Sky Pack.
The higher spec ‘Evolve’ grade adds Pro-Pilot Park, Windscreen Head-up Display, a 10 Bose speaker system, Electric Panoramic Sunroof, power moving centre console, and black upholstery with synthetic leather seats and Ultrasuede inserts.
The front-wheel drive Ariya is a good all-round car, but having spent a week with the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive model, that would be our preferred option, as, in our view, an SUV, or a ‘coupe crossover’, should have capable grip levels. You also get more performance, and with the 87 kWh battery, a longer range. However for all this, you pay the price: almost £60,000 in the case of our Ariya e-4ORCE Evolve test car. But it does mean that the Ariya is a more complete car in e-4ORCE form, and it gains a star compared to our initial test of the front-wheel drive variant, resulting in a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.