Nissan Ariya: first look at the 389bhp AWD electric crossover

Published: 15 July 2020

► On sale in the UK towards the end of 2021
► Available with 63 and 87kWh battery packs 
► Nissan says it has up to 310 miles of range

Nissan has unwrapped its second fully-electric car. The Ariya is a crossover (shock) and sits on an all-new platform. It's set to go on sale in the UK by the end of 2021. Prices and trim levels haven't been confirmed - but expect it to start from around £40,000.

The Ariya was first shown at the 2019 Tokyo motorshow. The bold cutting-edge design will be kept for the production version. The images you see here are 'pretty much' how the production car will look according to Nissan. You can see for yourself by scrolling through the gallery above.

Top line is that the performance model has 389bhp and a 0-62mph time of just over five seconds. While the most frugal version will officially cover 310 miles. Front and all-wheel drive formats are available, and there will be two battery packs to choose from.

Future electric cars

The Ariya uses a scalable platform, unlike the Leaf. As there's no internal combustion engine, the batteries can be packed underneath. This means the floor is flat. It really is noticeable, especially in the back, where space is roughly similar to an Audi Q5.

63 and 87kWh battery packs, two- or four-wheel drive

The twin electric motor, all-wheel-drive Ariya models will feature Nissan’s most advanced all-wheel control technology, e-4orce. It has four-wheel drive and control, and Nissan says that it features a torque split system that mirrors the GT-R's ATTESA E-TS set-up. If that's the case, we can't wait to try it – and see how it compares with Tesla's Track Model as featured on the Model 3. Models with twin motors can shut off the rear one when cruising on a motorway, for example. But won't be able to shut off the front one for rear-wheel drive silliness.

A range of five models offered for the European market, including two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. The Ariya will be offered in 63kWh two- and four-wheel-drive forms, as well as a more powerful 87kWh model (front- and four-wheel drive). Top of the range will be the Ariya e-4orce 87kWh Performance, which combines the higher power 389bhp drivetrain with the usual upgrades you'd expect in a range-topping EV.

Speaking of performance, Nissan says the 0-62mph time ranges between 7.6 seconds (for the two-wheel drive Ariya 63kWh) and 5.1 seconds for the 87kWh Performance model. Maximum speed ranges between 99 and 124mph – hardly enough to trouble a Tesla Model 3. As for weight, it comes in at a EV-typical 1800-2300kg.

Latest charging tech adopted

Nissan Ariya (2021) CCS charging system

The Ariya gets a Combined Charging System (CCS) connector for the European market. Charging tech includes a battery thermal control feature for its liquid-cooled and heated battery and the Ariya 63kWh versions have a 7.4kW charger for domestic use. The 87kWh version can support a 22kW three-phase charger for home charging – as long as your home does. For those using public chargers, the good news is that it supports rapid charging up to 130kW.


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. ‘Electric power is this clean powerful energy, so we wanted to echo that clean powerful surface,’ Giovanny Arroba, Nissan’s EV Design Director (below) told CAR. 

Giovanny Arroba

Indeed, the overall teardrop shape looks honed in the wind tunnel, to boost range. Air intakes at the front of the Ariya also create ‘air curtains’ which help keep air attached to the side of the car. 

‘We wanted to express the technology that we're bringing to market, this kind of democratisation of electric and technology, which we call intelligent mobility design,’ said Arroba. 

The replacement of the Nissan V-motion grille with a shield design is a big change in direction: ‘It was an open grille and was feeding the internal combustion engine with cooling air,’ explains Arroba. ‘That has been replaced with this technology shield which packages are radar and camera.' 

Nissan Ariya (2021) rear view

The shield ­– along with the incisive-looking DRLs it melts into are surely the most striking part of the Ariya, and they’re a new signature for Nissan electric cars. ‘I think the shield in combination with the signature lamps, that frame that face, that combination shows our brand identity, electrified,’ he confirmed. 

‘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 at the Tokyo motor show. ‘The surprisingly short overhangs, large cabin, large wheels and tailored two-tone paint scheme provide an elegant appearance that balances sport and luxury.’ 

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.

And inside?

Nissan Ariya (2021) interior view

The Ariya isn’t all joysticks and VR headsets. There's a conventional 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch drive display. There are very few 'real' buttons as most are touch-sensitive with haptic feedback.‘This car lives in a world where you still can engage and drive with the tactile feel of the steering wheel,’ Arroba assured us.

The Ariya is a one-pedal car to drive, just 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-market 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/

What are the autonomous car levels?

The Ariya gets the latest version of ProPilot. It also has a series of connected features. As soon as the key is detected, the seats and vehicle settings change to match the driver’s preferences. It's connected, too, and offers 'hey Nissan' and Alexa voice command functionality.

More space inside

Nissan Ariya (2021) profile view

Like many other electric cars, its interior is also more spacious than you’d expect: Nissan has been able to move A/C components from the interior – where they’d usually be packaged – to the ‘engine bay’ and given back the occupants some real estate in the process. Remove the transmission tunnel, and there’s considerably more space in the Ariya than its outside shape suggests. In fact, it’s more D-segment inside, than its C-segment exterior.

As the A/C sits where a traditional engine would, there's no frunk like with a Tesla. But the boot is big. There's 468-litres worth of space in the front-wheel drive versions, but only 415-litres in the all-wheel drive models.

I’m sold – when can I have one?

Nissan reckons cars should be in the UK by the end of 2021. Trim levels are unannounced, but expect the cheapest version, the single motor/front-wheel drive/63kWh battery car to start from around £40,000. 

Nissan Ariya (2021) rear view

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast