Attractive design, gorgeous interior, spacious cabin, excellent quality, refinement.
New Car Reviews
New Car Review: Nissan Ariya 87kWh Evolve
Good Stuff 👍
Bad Stuff 👎
The boot could be bigger, the ride could be more comfortable, and it’s sold out for 2022.
What is the Nissan Ariya?
Finally a follow up to the Leaf!
It has taken Nissan a long time to follow up on its pioneering Leaf electric car and its second EV (not counting commercial vehicles) is the Ariya, a five-door, five-seat SUV-like machine that Nissan refers to as a “coupé-crossover”. As we’ll go into in the next section, there is some justification for that, though it’s best to think of it as an alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4/ID.5, Skoda Enyaq, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia EV6. There are plenty more similar EVs on the way, too, so it’s set to be a tightly contested market. The Ariya arrived in Ireland this summer with an eye-catching starting price of €48,995, but unfortunately, the allocation was quite small, and all are already accounted for. Nonetheless, the supply of most new models right now is tight, so buyers are becoming used to long lead times. With that in mind, should the Ariya be on your EV shopping list for 2023?
How about the looks of the Nissan Ariya?
Striking looks - one of the prettiest EVs
The Ariya really is a striking-looking car thanks in part to its sweeping rear window and to the dark detailing theme that extends to the lights, non-grille up front and other aspects of the bodywork. It looks particularly good when the two-tone finish is opted for and though the launch colour – a distinctive copper – is stunning, the design can carry off any hue. You could go all black for more subtlety, but that would be to undo all the designers’ excellent work.
As standard, the alloy wheel diameter is 19 inches (and we’ll talk a little below about why it makes sense to stick with that), while eye-catching 20-inch rims are optional. All models get slender LED lights front and rear, while the high-spec Evolve variant tested here features scrolling indicators and upgraded headlamps. It also has a lovely opening panoramic glass sunroof included in the price.
In terms of practicalities, the charge port, featuring Type 2 and CCS connectors, is found on the passenger side, just ahead of the front wheel. An 11kW AC charger is standard, while buyers can upgrade to a 22kW unit. DC charging maxes out at 130kW.
“The cabin is quite possibly the best thing about the Nissan Ariya”
What is the inside of the Nissan Ariya like?
Interior is by far its best feature
The cabin is quite possibly the best thing about the Nissan Ariya. That’s not to say everything else is a mess, but that the interior is exceptional. There’s loads of space front and rear for a start, with a completely flat rear floor and an enhanced sensation of space up front thanks to the electrically sliding centre console. That holds a selection of device charging options, some clever storage areas, the – slightly odd – drive selector and a cluster of ‘buttons’ seamlessly integrated into a high-quality surface on top. These provide haptic feedback and allow control of the driving modes, along with opening and closing a hidden storage drawer under the dashboard. There’s a regular glovebox, too, though it’s not huge.
On top of the dash is a two-display layout with digital instruments and a touchscreen in the centre. Below it is another set of haptic-feedback controls, this time for the heating and air conditioning. This all works very well, though it’s the sense of quality that stands out, with lovely tactile materials used and a solidity to the switchgear that elevates the Ariya into competition with cars from premium brands.
The seats in the Evolve model warrant special mention as they look fabulous and offer excellent support, along with electric adjustment, heating and ventilation. Even the outer rear seats are heated. Three adults could sit back there without arguing (unless the middle passenger is unhappy about the lack of seat heating…) and the sloping roof only becomes a problem for tall people.
Nissan has clearly prioritised passenger space, as the Ariya’s boot isn’t quite as capacious as those of the ID.4 and Enyaq, etc. It holds 466 litres and there’s no “frunk” storage up front. A movable boot floor can be used to make a separate lower level (ideal for storing charging cables, for example) and if the split-rear seats are tumbled forward, one long flat surface is created.
What is the Nissan Ariya like to drive?
Super quiet, even by electric car standards
All electric cars are relatively quiet, but even measured against that, the Ariya is really silent. Nissan has done an excellent job with the noise suppression, so you barely ever hear the electric motor spooling up, for example, while double-glazed side glass keeps wind roar at bay, too. It’s a notably quieter car than the mentioned rivals.
The 87kWh battery pack comes with a 242PS electric motor that drives the front wheels. In the dry, it never seems to struggle with traction, however, as the calibration of the power delivery is really smooth and well-controlled. Conversely, perhaps because of this car’s considerable weight, it never feels as fast as you expect that much power to feel. Then again, it’ll blow the minds of anyone changing over from a typical 2.0-litre diesel.
Is the electric powertrain up to the job of replacing such a thing for long motorway jaunts? For the most part, yes. The official range of the 87kWh model is 529km (though presumably less if fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels fitted to our test car). Our time with the car would suggest that 400km is a more realistic target in a mix of driving. A heat pump is standard, which should help maintain that driving range all year around.
It is an EV that its owners will enjoy driving, thanks to great body control and good steering. A word of warning though: stick with the smaller alloy wheels, as we found the low-profile tyres fitted to the 20-inch rims exaggerated the stiffness of the suspension at low speeds, making it uncomfortable over poorly maintained road surfaces. Not a deal-breaker, but something to watch out for.
The driver can choose from Sport and Eco modes to gain a little extra response and efficiency -respectively – than in the default Normal setting, but we found no need as the regular mode is so well-judged. There’s also the “e-Pedal” option that ups the brake energy regeneration so that there’s almost no reason to use the brake pedal in an urban or stop-start traffic situation. We preferred the “B” mode on the drive selector, which increases the brake energy regeneration, but not to the same level.
Which Nissan Ariya should I buy?
Any you can get!
Being flippant, the answer is “whichever one you can get” as supply can’t meet demand. Eventually, that will hopefully ease. If you don’t really need 400km of range, save some money and go for the entry-level 63kWh model. Though it has a less-powerful motor, it’s no slower as it’s lighter, and that helps with how it drives and its efficiency, too. The base Advance specification is generously appointed by any measure, but we’d be sorely tempted to upgrade to Evolve as it feels like a proper luxury car with all the extra bits and pieces. You do, admittedly, pay for all that. In time, there will be all-wheel-drive models to consider, as well.
Is the Nissan Ariya safe?
A wealth of safety kit
Though the Nissan Ariya has yet to be tested by the Euro NCAP, it should score well. There’s a wealth of active and passive safety equipment as standard across the line-up, including Nissan’s ProPilot driver assistance system.
Spec Check ⚙️
Nissan Ariya 87kWh Evolve
one electric motor
466 litres with the seats up
Price as tested