Nissan Ariya previews all-electric production crossover

Published: 23 October 2019

► A near production concept
► The second Nissan EV
► Based on an all-new EV platform

Nissan is getting to closer to its next full electric car – a crossover SUV – by showing this near-production concept, the Ariya. Unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Ariya is a 4.6m-long crossover which will be the first car on Nissan’s all-new electric car platform.

Read our A-Z of new cars at the Tokyo motor show

That global platform is a big deal because it’s optimised specifically for electric cars: without the need to house an internal combustion engine, passenger space is elongated and the cockpit floor can be flat, with the batteries packed underneath. 

‘The Ariya’s proportions show what’s possible with Nissan’s 100% electric vehicle platform, said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design.‘The surprisingly short overhangs, large cabin, large wheels and tailored two-tone paint scheme provide an elegant appearance that balances sport and luxury.’

Still a concept! Nissan’s been hinting at this for ages…

Indeed. At the Tokyo show two years ago, Nissan unveiled the IMx concept, which stood for Intelligent Mobility-crossover. But that was a futuristic looking thing, with front wheelarches half-sheared off the body and no fripperies such as door handles and wing mirrors. The Ariya is clearly much closer to production – expect the real thing in the next 12-18 months. Nissan needs to get a shift on, else its EV lead will disappear as Ford unleashes its Mustang-inspired electric crossover and Volkswagen its ID Crozz.

The Ariya is powered by dual electric motors, one apiece turning each axle to give four-wheel drive capability. Nissan is talking up the Airya’s balanced, sports car levels of performance, but is giving no indication of battery cell capacity or range. The Leaf e+ has a 62kWh battery option good for 239 miles – the bigger IMx concept was theoretically good for 600km, or 373 miles. That suggests the Ariya will be the costliest car in Nissan’s range bar the GT-R. 

So if technical detail is thin on the ground, is it all about design?

Absolutely. ‘It’s an entirely new design direction for Nissan, the first example of our new vision for our design language, which we call Timeless Japanese Futurism,’ said Albaisa. 

The Ariya is a handsome thing with clean surfaces and a striking graphical face, including ‘boomerang’ LED lights and a closed off grille for aerodynamic reasons. Indeed the overall teardrop shape looks honed in the wind tunnel, to boost range. 

‘We replaced the conventional grille with what we call a ‘shield’ – an expressive piece with innovative 3-D texture within that goes beyond cosmetics, but also as a way to highlight the technology lurking within the vehicle,’ said the design chief. ‘In this case, it’s a radar sensor and other technologies that help the Ariya Concept read the road and visualise things the driver can’t see.’

Autonomous driving in a broad set of circumstances

The concept sports the latest version of Nisaan’s ProPilot driver assistance suite. Like the Leaf it can accelerate and brake following the car in front and keep within lane, as well as undertake hands-off driving between highway junctions so long as you’ve set the navigation – just like the current Japanese-markert Skyline. But next-gen features include automated overtaking, lane diversions and piloted exiting of the highway.

Drivers okay the transfer to automated driving via a button; the pared-back interior lighting switches at that point to signify a more relaxed state. Whether the driver stays that way depends on how polished and bulletproof ProPilot 2.0 turns out to be – assuming it can be homologated for use in Europe.

The Ariya also demonstrates a series of connected features. As soon as the key is detected, the seats and vehicle settings change to match the driver’s preferences. Once a destination is set, the car’s AI will calculate appropriate parking for you. And if you’re picking up friends on route, you can have a video conference before your journey to pin down the details, then share the car’s changing location with them to co-ordinate collection. The vehicle will also be updated over the air to boost convenience.

I’m sold – when can I have one?

Nissan isn’t saying exactly. But Albaisa promised ‘you will soon be able to drive it’. And thanks to the new platform which can be pushed and pulled into multiple sizes, expect it to step up the proliferation of pure EVs from Nissan, Renault and potentially Mitsubishi.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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