NISSAN has made its first foray into the electric SUV market with the all-new Ariya unveiled in Japan this week ahead of a mid-2021 launch in its home market.
Still to be officially confirmed for Australia, the Ariya is based heavily on the concept bearing the same name from the 2019 Tokyo motor show and is the first production model representing Nissan’s new “electrified brand identity”.
The zero-emissions mid-size SUV will be offered overseas in four different variants based around two powertrain and driveline configurations – single-motor/front-wheel-drive and dual-motor/AWD – and two battery sizes: 65kWh and 90kWh.
Power output and driving range varies on each variant, with up to 290kW and 610km available respectively.
Visually, the Ariya is undeniably a Nissan and yet does not closely imitate any member of the current model line-up.
At the front is a solid, inverted trapezium grille Nissan describes as a “shield” flanked on either side by a LED running lights which flick up to underline narrow LED projector headlights.
The first showing of the newly redesigned Nissan badge adorns the grille while a black centrepiece bridges the gap between the darkened headlight arrangements.
Below the grille is an aggressively shaped, multi-layered front apron which looks to double as a front splitter as the upper layer curves down towards the corners of the bumper.
Set into the ‘cheeks’ of the Ariya are two tall, thin vents skirting the edge of a prominent contour line with sensors nestled in the bottom.
With a sleek coupe-like roof and doorline, Nissan has given the Ariya a sporting flavour while also making it as aerodynamic as possible.
The vehicle measures 4595mm long, 1850mm wide and 1655mm tall – placing it in between the current Qashqai and X-Trail – and rides on either 19-inch or 20-inch aero five-spoke wheels depending on the trim level.
At the rear is an integrated roof spoiler, below which sits another prominent contour line which can be traced along the flanks of the vehicle and up to the front end, creating a seamless parabolic character line.
A single-piece light strip containing the tail-lights, brake lights and indicators runs across the entire width of the tailgate, designed specifically to be blacked out when not in use and complementing the two-tone nature of the front.
A black rear diffuser completes the look, matching the integrated apron at the front.
On the powertrain front, each 2WD and 4WD variant has two levels of performance.
At the entry level, the single-motor/2WD version with 65kWh battery produces 160kW/300Nm and has a driving range of up to 450km on the WLTC Japan cycle. Claimed acceleration from 0-100km/h is 7.5 seconds.
A more powerful 178kW/300Nm 2WD version is available with the bigger (and heavier) 90kWh battery, increasing the range to 610km and also the time from 0-100km/h to 7.6s.
Both 2WD variants have a top speed of 160km/h.
The AWD variants, which have a motor on each axle, develop 250kW/560Nm when paired with the 65kWh battery, providing a relatively low 430km driving range but a much more impressive turn of speed, claiming 5.4s to 100km/h. Maximum speed also increases to 200km/h.
The top-spec 90kWh AWD version produces 290kW/600Nm for a 580km range and 5.1s 0-100km/h sprint.
According to Nissan, the 2WD versions of Ariya are primarily designed for urban duties while the more powerful all-paw variants have a greater emphasis on performance with their so-called ‘e-4ORCE control technology’ offering dynamics said to be “equal to or better than many premium sportscars”.
In the material accompanying the SUV’s launch, Nissan described e-4ORCE as “the spiritual offspring of the Nissan GT-R’s ATTESA E-TS torque split system and the Nissan Patrol’s intelligent 4X4 system”.
In terms of recharging, Nissan has thus far only released figures based on the native CHAdeMO charging system and says that up to 375km of range can be added after a 30-minute quick charge from a 130kW source.
Inside, the cabin has been laid out simply and cleanly with designers reportedly following the principals of the Japanese term ‘ma’, meaning spatiotemporal openings.
With an absence of physical buttons contributing greatly to simplicity, vibrating haptic switches have been used for the climate control system while drivers are greeted by a digital instrument cluster and matching infotainment touchscreen mounted high on the dashboard.
Nissan has not detailed the standard equipment list as yet but has confirmed the top-spec all-wheel-drive variant will come with ProPilot 2.0, offering “hands-off single-lane highway driving capabilities as well as lane changing, passing and exit taking on multilane highways”.
To do so, seven cameras, five millimetre-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sonar sensors and GPS tracking monitor combined to detect lane markers, objects around the vehicle and its geographical position.
ProPilot Remote Park adds the ability to park the Ariya without actually being inside it, provided the owner is within six metres of the vehicle.
Safety features include an intelligent around view monitor, intelligent forward collision warning, intelligent emergency braking and rear automatic emergency braking technology.
While Nissan Australia acknowledges the Ariya as “an exciting vehicle” that “would appeal to Australian customers”, the company could not confirm any details surrounding the EV’s possible local introduction.
In its native Japan, Nissan says the Ariya will enter the market carrying an “estimated starting price” of around ¥5 million ($A66,350) – roughly the same here as the Hyundai Kona EV Highlander, arguably its most logical rival.