Nissan EVs full speed ahead! Entirely developed on Nissan’s new zero-emission vehicle platform, the Ariya debuts new human-machine interface technology for immediate projection into the near future. The market supremacy of the forerunner Leaf, which has contributed massively to the electrification of the circulating car fleet (since 2010 around 250,000 units were sold in Europe alone), is in danger of being quickly overshadowed, given the growing interest in sustainable mobility which can no longer be ignored.
Don’t call me Leaf
Comparing the two comes spontaneous, although several features clearly distinguish the new course. Starting with the platform, entirely dedicated to meeting future designs and ready to be used by the French Japanese triple alliance. Common to the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Group, the CMF-EV (Common Module Family for Electic Vehicles) platform was also used on the Megane E-Tech, adapted, as in the case of the Ariya, for both two and four-wheel drive vehicles that are bound to hit the market in the years to come.
The basic feature is represented by a low, centrally positioned battery pack, with 12 or 16 liquid-cooled modules, contributing to an even distribution of weight (50/50), thus allowing the electric unit to be housed adequately on one or both axles, as in the case of the Ariya 4WD e-4ORCE.
Faithful to the SUV Coupe concept, the design is both elegant and sporty, dominated by a futuristic front that lights up when the vehicle is accessed by illuminating in sequence the Nissan logo on the front, the connecting line between the two headlights and the daytime running lights, clearly full LED like the rest of the light clusters, front and rear. Behind the smooth, contrasting black grille we find advanced sensing technologies, with radar and sensors for the ProPilot assisted driving and Intelligent Key vehicle access functions, while the front bonnet conceals the A/C unit. Slender in its coupé silhouette, despite being 1.66 metre high as one would expect of a mid-range sports utility vehicle, the Ariya, which sits midway between its Qashqai and X-Trail siblings, has dimensions in line with its class, at 4.6 metres long and 1.85 metres wide (excluding mirrors), with a generous 2.77 metre wheelbase to keep overhangs as short as possible.
Inside, the all-Japanese minimalist philosophy is evident, with clean, essential lines, starting with the simple yet elegant dashboard design lined with illuminated touch-switch technology. Slim profile 'Zero Gravity' seats offer adequate comfort despite the reduced size, much to the benefit of the available interior space, which allows all five occupants to be comfortably seated, even able to cross their legs as they would do in a living room at home. The sunroof, together with the large glass area of the side window, offers a superb panoramic view of the outside, lending brightness and airiness to the interior at the same time. Whether there is a route to plan, a favourite playlist to listen to, an incoming phone call or an app to use, all can be managed vocally via the advanced Android Auto. The first-in-class ProPilot active driving assistants with Navi-Link guarantee controlled and safe driving in every situation, starting with the automatic lane maintenance, safety distance maintenance, etc.. This is thanks to a comprehensive set of Adas devices, including traffic sign detection, recognition of obstacles such as crossing pedestrians or oncoming vehicles at cross-roads and automatic emergency braking in case of need. With e-Pedal driving, the accelerator pedal alone can be used to accelerate or decelerate the vehicle, effectively replacing the brake action (when not strictly necessary).
Full screen display
Innovative and bucking the trend in many respects, Nissan’s Ariya features an all-digital instrument cluster with the now customary multifunctional head-up display. Unlike most other cars though, Nissan has opted for a dual screen, side-by-side and angled, 12.3 inches each, instead of the now classic tablet-style central display common to much of the competition to offer a panoramic view with all functions and indications available at a glance. The choice of power falls between three options, two single units for the front-wheel drive versions while the remaining one, the top of the range 4WD model, boasts a twin-motor layout - one per axle. The entry level has a 63 kWh, battery pack capacity, 160 kW of power and maximum torque of 300 Nm, while the intermediate version has an increased capacity of 87 kWh, 178 kW peak power and unchanged torque. The twin-motor version, the Ariya 4WD, on the other hand, delivers 225 kW of peak power and 600 Nm of torque, while retaining the same 87 kW lithium-ion battery pack as the intermediate. Considering the power output, the overall performance, electronically controlled via the Intelligent Power system, is interesting, though not exuberant, with a top speed limited to 160 km/h for both 2WDs rising to 200 km/h for the 4WD, and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 7.5 and 5.7 seconds respectively. Four are the driving modes available to adapt traction delivery and control to different road conditions. Standard, Eco and Sport are complemented by Snow on the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive model, which optimises grip on particularly slippery roads. Depending on the capacity, recharging times can vary from overnight, through a 7.4 kW home charger, to the fastest three-phase 22 kW for public recharging, up to 80% fast-charging in about 35 minutes guaranteed by the 130-kW maximum capacity, with a guaranteed range from 360 to over 500 kilometres (declared) with full energy. Driving and road behaviour are managed by a chassis with four independent wheels lay-out, the suspensions being a classic pair of McPherson at the front and independent multilink at the rear with coil springs and anti-roll bars. The regenerative action by both front engine and the rear engine (in 4WD) also ensures a high degree of pitch control, reducing oscillations even when the vehicle's speed changes abruptly. Despite a GVM of 1800kg and 2300 kg in running order, the Ariya has a towing capacity of 1500 kg with any power unit, which makes it capable of handling even good-sized trailers. On the wheel unit front, the choice is limited to only two options with the entry level already boasting generous 235 mm tyres with a 55% shoulder ratio on 19-inch alloy wheels, with the size 245/45 and 20-inch wheels reserved for the top of the range.