Nissan Ariya: the second EV in detail

Published: 15 July 2020

► Production version of edgy concept unveiled
► Available with 63 and 87kWh battery packs 
► Nissan says it has up to 310 miles of range

Nissan's second full-electric car has been unveiled. The new Ariya features concept car looks and is massive technological leap over the Leaf, thanks to an all-new platform, which will be shared with Joint Venture partners, Renault and Mitsubishi.

The concept, which was revealed at the 2019 Tokyo motor show, was praised for its cutting-edge design – and it looks to have made it largely intact for the 2021 production version. You can see for yourself by scrolling through the gallery above. Top line is that it will be offered in two- and four-wheel drive form with two different battery packs, and a number of power outputs. Nissan is says it has a 310-mile range in WLTP testing.

Future electric cars

Unlike the Leaf which has effectively stood on its own, the Ariya uses a scalable platform 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.

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.

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 Europen market. Charging tech includes a battery thermal control feature for its liquid-cooled 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.

Design

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 was 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 with 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, it features close to production interior that outlines a car that has semi-autonomous capability of the near future. ‘This can car lives in a world where you still can engage and drive with the tactile feel of the steering wheel,’ Arroba assured us. There’s a touchscreen, digital cockpit and wheel-mounted buttons, and apart from some glowing switches on the dash, the Ariya cabin is grounded in reality. 

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 – assuming it can be homologated for use in Europe.

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.

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 the Japanese.

It needs to get a shift on, else its EV lead will disappear as Ford unleashes its Mustang-inspired electric crossover and Volkswagen its ID.4.

Nissan Ariya (2021) rear view

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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