Sing a different tune
What makes the Ariya special is clear at a glance: this mid-sized SUV has an almost futuristic look! Nissan has chosen abstract shapes and unusual colours to make it clear that this is the SUV of the future. It is also immediately clear that this is an electrically powered SUV, because the Ariya has a short nose and therefore an extra large passenger compartment.
The Ariya is stocky, but at the same time has smooth surfaces for a favourable streamline. The high shoulder line gives it the muscular look of an SUV. Details such as the flowing lines, the aerodynamic wheels and the logo surrounded by LEDs make the Ariya truly special.
Space and equipment
The Ariya is tall to provide space for batteries in the floor. The seat is therefore high up, and for some it may even be too high. Even in the lowest position, the front seat is unusually high. When the optional glass panoramic roof is chosen, tall drivers will skim the roof. The space in the back is excellent, because even with a tall driver in the front, there is plenty of legroom in the back. This does not go at the expense of the boot; that too is considerable.
The atmosphere in the cabin is special, because at first the dashboard seems to be one blank piece, without any buttons or other controls. Only after the car is switched on do buttons light up. These are completely flat, but thanks to "haptic feedback" they still feel like physical buttons when pressed. Even the storage space in front is special: under the dashboard is an almost invisible hidden storage compartment. Between the front seats is an electrically adjustable central console that offers plenty of storage space.
A display screen runs, with a small gap behind the edge of the steering wheel, from behind the steering wheel to the middle of the dashboard. It displays an audio, communication and sat nav system with above average graphics. Moreover, it reacts quickly to commands, so that it clearly belongs to a new generation. The quality of the audio system is reasonable, no more than that. Of course, the Ariya has an internet connection, so that periodic updates can be downloaded.
Charging and range
The Ariya will be available with a choice of a 63 kWh and 87 kWh battery. The battery is actively cooled or heated to ensure optimum performance, fast charging and a long service life. That's a big step up from the Leaf, which was only air-cooled.
On the way to a fast charger, the driver can preheat the battery with the push of a button, so charging will be even faster. With many other cars this happens automatically based on the destination set in the sat nav. Nissan chooses the manual option so the battery can also be preheated when using navigation on a connected smartphone. Good to know: the necessary cooling or heating for safety is always automatic.
Charging can be done at home, at a public charge point (with an above-average speed of max 22 kW) and at a fast charger (max 130 kW). Here too Nissan has chosen a new path, because the Leaf continues to use the Japanese "ChaDeMo" plug, while the rest of the world has embraced "CCS" as its standard. The Ariya is the first Nissan to support CCS.
Depending on the chosen battery and the drive system (front- or all-wheel drive), the Ariya has a range of 360 to 500 km. Experience learns that a range of 300 km is the ideal balance between price, performance, weight and practicality. Only those who often make long journeys and really cannot interrupt them to recharge (often shorter than the average lunch break) opt for the version with a 500 km range.
Performance and range
Besides different batteries, the Ariya is available with different engine powers: 217, 242 and 306 hp. For this test the basic version was driven with the "weakest" electric motor and the battery with the lowest capacity (63 kWh).
With it, the Ariya sets itself in motion smoothly and effortlessly. Thanks to the ease with which the Ariya performs, the car almost immediately gives the superior feeling that is characteristic of electric driving. In sports mode, even this least powerful Ariya is eager, although it is noticeable that the powertrain has to move quite a bit. The brakes have no trouble at all with the heavy SUV, as the Ariya can be brought to a standstill precisely and with a short braking distance.
Nissan speaks highly of the so-called "e-Pedal", with which the car can be driven with one foot. However, the only difference with other brands is that Nissan gives it a nice name. By releasing the throttle, the Ariya slows down and the more abruptly it is released, the stronger the braking (and energy recuperation).
On a very simple route and in a region with extremely low speed limits (Sweden) under favourable weather conditions, the consumption was 14 kWh / 100 km. This meant that the promised range could be easily achieved.
When it comes to handling, the Ariya is a little less progressive. Just like an earlier generation of electric cars, the Ariya chooses a stiff dampers to disguise the heavy weight. The low and central centre of gravity (because of the batteries in the floor) makes the Ariya well balanced.
Because the Ariya is meant as a family car, Nissan did not opt for an outspoken dynamic or sporty character. The driving characteristics make the Ariya comfortable, good-natured and safe.
What makes the Nissan Ariya special? The presentation. Electric motors are naturally very agile, do their work in silence and perform effortlessly. Thanks to the battery in the floor, almost all electric cars are stable. These advantages apply to even the simplest electric car, so there is little to be gained on these points.
That is why the appeal of the Ariya lies mainly in its presentation. The Ariya has futuristic lines and is dressed up exceptionally. This does not go at the expense of ergonomics or space, because both are excellent.
First Nissan made electric driving commonplace with the Leaf. Now the manufacturer does almost the opposite. With its unique presentation Nissan has managed to give a completely new dimension to a very ordinary family car. Or to stay with the theme: Nissan really does sing a different tune with the Ariya.
- Advanced, useful technology
- Even quieter and more refined than other electric cars
- Awkward location of charging socket
- Artificial and intrusive sound audio system
- Driver's seat not height adjustable enough (too high)