Sometimes a car arrives in a market sector that may not be a game changer in terms of design or innovation, but is simply a little better than its competitors in many respects and so goes to the top end of the class. With its new Ariya, Nissan may just have pulled off this trick. This not only means it is likely to give the Volkswagen ID.4, Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Skoda Enyaq a good run for their money, but could also tempt large numbers of Irish families out of their Qashqais and into their first all-electric SUV.
Nissan would have liked to introduce the Ariya before now, but a succession of global crises has seen the European launch date put back. It will now hit the road in Ireland in time for the July 22-2 plate. The car is officially described by its makers as an all electric coupe-crossover and it will share a platform with the soon to be introduced Renault Megane E-Tech.
With good looks and Nissan quality and a high level of equipment, the Ariya is sure to be popular. The entry level Advance model is set to cost from €48,995 including discounts and grants. However, once you get out of the incentive bracket, there is a sharp rise to €66,995 for the higher spec Evolve model.
- Futuristic design
- High quality, practical interior
- Ultra smooth, quiet ride
- Won't offer the most heart pounding drive
If you had asked young design students to draw a car of the future ten years ago they may well have come up with something like the Ariya. It certainly looks futuristic in all respects, although it somehow manages to pull off the trick of also having an element of classic familiarity about it. From all angles it is pleasing on the eye and you can see the sporty intension with the discussed coupe roof line.
The use of a black roof, mirrors, under-body surrounds and nose shield means that to make the most of its style, the car really needs a lighter contrasting body colour. It is actually slightly bigger than the Qashqai and with its contemporary styling it has much more road presence.
The quality and practicality of the interior can make or break cars in this class and Nissan clearly took time to get everything in the Ariya just right. It feels very spacious throughout and it utilises quality materials that give the whole cabin a luxurious feel.
Two 12.3-inch displays in a single mounting span the dashboard, one for driver information and one for the touchscreen infotainment system, which of course blends seamlessly with smartphones. There are also neat separate touch-sensitive air con controls. These use something called haptic feedback, offering a pleasing sense of engagement with the operator.
The haptic feedback also features on the centre console switches, with the moveable unit also including clever storage and device charging options. By moving the console there is the option of a flat floor in the front or rear seats, which is useful when carrying five. It is also worth noting that the back doors open wide and provide easy access which is not only helpful for getting children into the car, but also older less flexible passengers, who vehicle designers often forget.
A 400 litres plus boot capacity and split rear seats means that the car can cope with most luggage demands. The only slight downside is the rear headroom due to the slope of the coupe roofline, but this is not really an issue unless the passengers are well beyond the six foot mark. Overall this is a very well crafted and comfortable interior that buyers are going to like a lot.
Initially the Ariya will be in a front-wheel-drive version with a single electric motor and a 63kWh battery. This offers 217hp and 300Nm of torque. This might be below some of the competition, but is more than enough for a car of this type making it quick and comfortable. Nissan quotes a 403Km range for this model which again is adequate rather than spectacular. A 87kWh battery will also be available and this is said to offer an extended range of 529km.
Nissan has also said there will be an all-wheel drive version of the Ariya and the option of dual motors either with or without the higher rated batter. In theory this could take the power output up to 394hp, although potential buyers with this budget would probably sway more towards comfort options.
Charging wise, using a 50KW/125A charger Nissan says 30 minutes will give you up to up to 115 km, while a fast DC charger over 350A will give a 300km charge in 30 minutes. The way different car makers quote charging times varies making comparisons difficult, but suffice to say the Ariya charging ability will not be an issue to most drivers.
With the Ariya yet to hit the road in Ireland, it is too early to make any reliability judgement. What you can say is that when it comes to maintenance the Qashqai has a pretty good record and also that Nissan has built up more than most manufacturer’s electric drive experience with the Leaf. This would indicate that this should be a good car reliable vehicle to own. There is also the reassurance of a 3 year or 100,000 km manufacturer warranty and an 8 year 160,000km battery warranty.
Again it is too early to get a good idea of how much the Ariya will cost to run, but you would expect Qashqai petrol converts to be very pleasantly surprised by the savings. Diesel SUV drivers can also forget about the dreaded DPF warning light, while generally maintenance and servicing costs should be significantly down.
Safe, secure and composed would be words best used to describe the Ariya handling rather than exciting and this is exactly what most drivers of this type of car are looking. In fairness to the Ariya, it does provide precise steering and good driver feedback in corners giving a satisfying level of engagement. If you were to push it to the max a very effective traction control system will also keep you honest.
The ride is ultra smooth and very quiet at speed and the Ariya also does well ironing out even the low speed bumps. A tight turning circle also makes the car agile in tight situations.
Overall the Ariya drive is not going to get the heart pounding, but this of course was never the intention. Instead the car drives very comfortably with the driver knowing that it does have the potential to do a lot more if required.
The Ariya has not yet been tested by the European safety body Euro NCAP, however, going by recent Nissan assessments it is possible to predict a five star rating with some confidence.
Unlike with some models in this class, the Ariya comes with an impressive array of advanced driver assistance features as standard to help a driver keep a better eye on the road and avoid collisions. These include; Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Pedestrian Rear Emergency Brake and Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and more.
There is also the option of Nissan ProPILOT an intelligent driving support system which takes you into the area of semi autonomous driving, including hands free parking and motorway cruising.
- Running Costs
While the styling may be futuristic, as a sporty package, the Ariya is not going to get the plus racing. However, Nissan has produced a cross-over electric vehicle of the highest calibre that Irish buyers are going to like. The brand has many fans in Ireland and as they make the transition to electric SUV they will be more than happy with the levels of equipment, practicality and luxury the Ariya can offer.
The car drives well, has excellent driver assistance technology as standard and while other models may have the edge when it comes to range and performance, the differences are unlikely to be enough to put potential buyers off.