First drive: New Nissan Ariya 2022 Review

Nissan’s latest electric vehicle is a sleek SUV-crossover that represents the brands ambitious electrification offensive. Charlie Atkinson shares his first take.

Two years after it was first announced, the time has come for the Ariya to hit the road, sort of. The full line up of Nissan’s latest EV are available to order from the 5th July, with this step marking an important step for the manufacturer.

With Nissan confirming targets to offer a 100% electrified lineup by 2023, and for 75% sales to be electric by 2026 with 100% targeted by the end of the decade, the Ariya feels like a significant line in the sand.

And, on the face of it, the Ariya has got the ball rolling quite nicely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ariya joins a saturated electric crossover segment, with Nissan’s new electric flagship set to compete with the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi Q4 e-tron and a thousand other models available just like it.

However, Nissan feels as if it knows what customers want from a crossover, more so than any over manufacturer. It claims to have created the segment back in 2007 with the Qashqai, and with 2 million still on the road, according to company bosses, it had a huge pool of data to analyse in order to create an electric crossover that ticked as many boxes for prospective customers as possible.

So, what do they want and what will they get from the Ariya?

Firstly, a sturdy design that offers a great deal of presence. The Ariya is one of the tallest cars in this segment, whilst also being one of the most compact. The wheels of the vehicle have been spaced further apart to create more room inside, with ‘horizon lines’ across the body to create aerodynamic surfaces.

The Ariya will also be available to order with a number of different spec options, starting from £43,845, which places it around the Audi Q4 e-tron mark.

Pricing for the 63kWh battery version with 160kW of power and an onboard 7.4kW AC Charger starts at £43,845 for the Advance and £47,840 for the Evolve.

For the larger 87kW battery with up to 329 miles of range, 178Kw of power and a more powerful onboard 22kW AC charger, the Advance is priced at £49,595 with Evolve at £53,590.

For the customer looking for all-wheel drive and greater performance, then the e-4ORCE version has a 47kW increase in power to 225kW and doubles the amount of torque to 600Nm. It is priced from £52,295 for the Advance grade or £56,290 for the Evolve.

Interior 

The theme of the Ariya is ‘timeless Japanese futurism’. There are references to specific Japanese design concepts everywhere, with ‘Ma’ representing the ‘mastery of empty space by respecting the construction’ and ‘Kumiko’ symbolizing the ‘art of creating an intricate pattern technique to assemble wooden pieces.’

What this leaves you with is a spacious, minimalist interior that has been ergonomically designed, with cute little features and details scattered around to achieve a relatively peaceful feeling when behind the wheel.

The Kumiko designs are easy to spot up front and have a premium feeling, whilst the Andon lighting (which translates to ‘paper lantern’) offers a warm glow to the interior. It is a unique approach to a cars décor, and it is one that is certainly different to any car in this segment.

The furnishings also feel higher end, with fully adjustable seats, steering wheel and power-sliding centre console. The monolith display in the Ariya comprises two 12.3” screens, and the vehicle also features an AI head up display. Nissan chose the option of three smaller screens rather than one giant, iPad-like infotainment system in the middle of the dash, in order to minimize the distance a driver has to look to consume important bits of data such as range and navigation. Call it ‘visual ergonomics’ if you will.

Ariya’s dash is complete with a series of haptic controls which allow the driver to operate certain functions such as air conditioning. For me, haptic controls always feel unnatural and should either be fully digital or replaced with a traditional button, and there are classic dials on the steering wheel and knobs for controls such as volume, thankfully.

In terms of tech, the car will integrate with Apple CarPlay and Android Autio, and it will also have Amazon’s Alexa built in, although that wasn’t available for us to try on our test run. The Nissan Ariya has also been equipped with the latest safety and driver-assist technologies, including ProPILOT with Navi link, the most innovative iteration of Nissan’s advance driver-assistance system in Europe to date.

Featuring Nissan Safety Shield 360, the vehicle is available with Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Emergency Lane Keeping, Intelligent Emergency Braking and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking technology.

Intelligent Route Planner calculates the best route based on various real-time factors such as traffic, road conditions, real-time charging station availability and remaining battery. NissanConnect Services App which has the capability to lock/unlock doors remotely.

What’s it like to drive?

I tested the Nissan Ariya on a scenic route across Stockholm with a mix of urban and country environments. Whilst the route did lead us through the city centre at 4pm, it did allow me to experience the true purpose of the Ariya; short trips into town, commuting, with the capability for longer stretches out on the open road.

Behind the wheel of the 63kW ‘Evolve’ version, the Ariya certainly felt comfortable and peaceful to drive, which is partly thanks to the calming setting in the cockpit, but as well due to the smooth, quiet driving experience.

There is minimal road and wind noise, and the acceleration is smooth and consistent, unlike a lot of electric cars which can jolt you back in your seat with even the tiniest of twitches on the throttle.

Do not be mistaken, the Ariya can lump it forward when you need it to, with a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds and with 300NM of torque. A key aspect that Nissan bosses were keen to promote at the launch presentation was the balance of the vehicle, especially through corners. With certain EVs often kicking out when you squeeze through a bend, the Ariya has been designed to feel weighted and secure in this moment, and whilst it may not have felt glued to the road in my experience, it did feel controlled and comfortable, giving you confidence to relax even more behind the wheel and to properly enjoy your drive.

Nissans tried and tested e-Pedal also features in the Ariya, which brings a level of familiarity to the cars regenerative braking. Although the braking from the e-Pedal isn’t as severe as I would like, I did complete my 45-minute journey without too many dips of the brake pedal. The ability to adjust the severity of the regen braking would be ideal, however, for a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it does the job quite nicely.

Range and charging

The Ariya boasts a range of up to 329 miles with the 87kW 2WD spec, with even the basic 63kW 2WD option delivering up to 250 miles off a single charge. The 87kW Ariya AWD e-4ORCE model will also deliver a range of 310 miles.

In terms of charging, the Ariya supports 130kW charging capabilities, and the 87kWh model can recover up to 217 miles with a 30-minute quick charge using a CCS charging system.

Verdict

Once the pioneer of the modern-day electric vehicle, Nissan’s latest electric vehicles come at a time when the brand is looking towards the future, and the Ariya finds itself having to compete with a growing lineup of electric SUV-crossovers.

Although competition is strong and the market is saturated, something feels different about the Ariya. Nissan has taken its time with this car, with it first being revealed to the world two years ago, and it shows. With many aspects of the Ariya being defined by traditional Japanese words and phrases, it is perhaps the true meaning of the word ‘Ariya’ that best represents this car. Noble, dependable and something to be respected.

A fitting summary for an electric vehicle that will almost certainly establish itself towards the top of the tree, alongside some of the more premium electric SUVs and crossovers. It has already been warmly received, with almost 2,000 pre-orders already taken.

Those that are awaiting their new Ariya should be excited. It is a car that offers a great design and a beautiful interior which is fully kitted out, whilst also being the perfect blend of comfortable, reliable, and fun out on the road. It is fit for the new era of electric vehicles too, with a sizeable range and fast charging capabilities.

The Ariya feels complete, and it is an almost perfect start to Nissan’s latest era of electrification.