Nissan was a leader with the electric LEAF which first went on sale in 2011; now, 11 years later, we finally have Nissan’s second all-electric car, the Nissan Ariya coupe crossover.
Nissan was a leader in the field of electric cars with the LEAF which first went on sale in 2011; now, 11 years later, we have Nissan’s second all-electric car, the Nissan Ariya. So it seems to have taken quite a long time for Nissan to bring its second electric car to market – does it represent 11 years of learning from the LEAF?
Car buyers want SUVs and crossovers rather than small family hatchbacks like the LEAF so it’s perhaps no surprise that Nissan’s second electric car is a ‘coupe crossover’. The benefit is that the Ariya is spacious, with a flat floor giving good rear legroom, and a 466-litre boot. However our test car wasn’t a 4×4 SUV, instead it was the ‘Advance’ entry-level front-wheel drive model. This also meant that it had the smallest 63kWh battery.
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The overriding sensation when driving the Ariya is that it feels like an ‘SUV Coupe’ with comfortable ride quality and a comfortable driving experience overall. This is the case on A and B-roads, and on the motorway, when it’s refined, and it’s more planted to the road than the LEAF.
The other main observation is that the Ariya’s driving experience – as well as its design – feels like a step-up in quality compared to the LEAF – but with the Ariya’s higher price, so it should be.
Because the Ariya’s suspension feels more tuned for comfort than sports car dynamics, the steering and body control also reflect this.
Although you can get an all-wheel drive Ariya, our test car was front-wheel drive, which, combined with tyres with virtually no tread pattern across their width, and a test environment of steep hills and some gravel surfaces, grip levels were poor – especially for an SUV/crossover that is supposed to be capable of tackling all roads.
There are three drive modes – Sport, Standard and Eco – and although our test car was the entry-level model, performance was perfectly sufficient, particularly in Sport mode.
The gear selector isn’t really a traditional gear lever, but 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.
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’.
Other controls on the dark grey dashboard such as for drive modes, the ePedal and heating and ventilation 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.
And the touchscreen also feels quite different to most other car touchscreens, as you seem to need to exert more pressure when pressing the buttons on the screen to activate the functions.
The lane departure warning system results in the steering wheel vibrating when crossing a white line, which is less intrusive than some other cars, but still annoying and isn’t easy to switch off.
The Ariya has a maximum towing capability of 750kg for the 2WD model and 1,500kg for the all-wheel drive e-4ORCE model.
The Nissan Ariya Advance 63kWh 2WD has a WLTP electric driving range of 250 miles. Although we weren’t able to live with the car for very long for our first UK drive, it appeared to be averaging around 200 miles on a full charge.
The Ariya has a maximum DC rapid charging rate of 130 kW, and 7.4kW for AC charging, with 22kW optional.
The Ariya 87kWh can recover 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 test car was a Nissan Ariya Advance 63kWh which costs £43,845. The Ariya comes with a choice of three different battery and powertrain combinations and a range of up to 329 miles and 600Nm of torque.
The Nissan Ariya is available in two grades, Advance and Evolve, and with three different battery and powertrain combinations: 2WD 63kWh, 2WD 87kWh, and e-4ORCE AWD 87kWh.
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 (a large sunroof, as fitted to our test car).
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.
Pricing for the 63kWh battery version with 160kW of power and an onboard 7.4kW AC Charger starts at £43,845 for the Advance and £47,840 for the Evolve.
For the larger 87kW battery with up to 329 miles of range, 178kW of power and a more powerful onboard 22kW AC charger, the Advance is priced at £49,595 with Evolve at £53,590.
For all-wheel drive and greater performance, then the e-4ORCE version has a 47kW increase in power to 225kW and it doubles the amount of torque to 600Nm. The e-4ORCE version is priced from £52,295 for the Advance grade or £56,290 for the Evolve.
It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but Nissan has now launched its second electric car. The LEAF was built to a price point – to the extent that it was many years into the LEAF’s life before it even got reach adjustment for the steering column. In contrast the Ariya’s design and driving experience feels more upmarket than the LEAF, but with prices ranging from £43,845 to £56,290, it should do. In this price segment, many drivers may also want the longer range of 329 miles that comes with the 87kW battery.
The Ariya offers the space and the comfortable driving experience that should come as standard with an SUV or a crossover, but what it doesn’t offer in front-wheel drive form is the grip that should be offered by an SUV. So the Nissan Ariya Advance 63kWh 2WD gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10, but we look forward to carrying out a full test of the all-wheel drive Ariya very soon. Thanks to Chorley Group for the Nissan Ariya test car.