Nissan Ariya SUV review
“The Ariya may only be Nissan’s first attempt at an electric SUV, but it manages to be one of the most well-rounded models on the market”
- Decent range figures
- Class-leading cabin
- Smart sliding centre console
- Some rivals have bigger boots
- Not the most thrilling to drive
While most manufacturers are only now making their first steps into the world of EVs, Nissan is somewhat of an old hand when it comes to electric cars. The Nissan Leaf has become one of the most established options on the market, with a relatively affordable price and a usable electric range. Yet, over a decade after the Leaf's initial launch, Nissan is yet to really expand its EV lineup… until now.
The Nissan Ariya is the brand’s first attempt at an electric SUV – one of the hottest segments in the car industry right now. On paper, it looks to be on par with rivals such as the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5; the range kicks off with a 63kWh (usable) battery model that can manage around 250 miles on a single charge. This should be fine for the majority of users. However, there is a larger 87kWh unit that stretches this figure to 310 miles.
Drivers can charge the Ariya at speeds of up-to 130kW; this allows drivers to top up their Ariya from 20-80% in around 30 minutes. Whereas on some rivals such as the Skoda Enyaq iV you have to upgrade to top-spec models to get these faster charging speeds, this comes as standard on the Ariya, meaning you’ll be charged up and back on the road in no time at all.
When you do finally step behind the wheel, you’ll find that the Ariya is just as comfortable and refined as its petrol-powered sibling, the Nissan Qashqai. Larger bumps and imperfections are dialled out well by the car’s suspension, yet the Ariya never feels overly floaty or disconnected from the road.
While the Ariya will likely find its home on tight urban streets during the school run, it still offers much of the punchiness we’ve come to expect of electric cars. There are two electric motor options to choose from: a 239bhp single motor and a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup with 302bhp – although this is only available with the larger 87kWh battery.
Our test car was fitted with the entry-level 63kWh, 239bhp setup. Although it was certainly no Tesla Model Y in terms of acceleration, the Ariya’s electric motor still feels pretty swift thanks to the instant torque when you put your foot down. Getting from 0-62mph takes a respectable 7.5 seconds, which should be fast enough for most Ariya drivers; the dual-motor model cuts this time down to just 5.7 seconds. However, those looking for a sporty EV are better off looking at a Kia EV6.
Nissan is not exactly known for luxury, yet the Ariya is perhaps the brand’s most convincing attempt yet at a more premium offering. Stepping inside, the Ariya’s cabin feels much more special than what you’d find in rivals from VW and Toyota. A particular highlight is the rather sumptuous wood trim that houses several touch-sensitive buttons for the climate controls and infotainment system. This, comprising two 12.3-inch screens, feels as if it's been plucked straight from a Mercedes; although the graphics could be a tad crisper, the system is easy to use and comes as standard with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
As for other standard equipment, even entry-level Ariya Advance cars come well-equipped, with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, a powered tailgate and a full suite of safety and driver assistance features. For an extra £4,000, the Pure spec gets luxuries such as an upgraded Bose stereo and a nifty sliding centre console that aids practicality.
Speaking of practicality, the Ariya feels incredibly roomy inside. It uses a 33% slimmer battery than the one in the Leaf, which means the footwell is much deeper compared to what you’ll find in most electric cars. Boot space is an ample 466 litres, which can be expanded by folding the rear seats down if you need to carry anything larger than a couple of suitcases.
Overall, the Ariya succeeds in not only becoming one of the most desirable Nissan models you can buy, but also one of the most well-rounded electric SUVs on sale. While it may not offer the same range as a Tesla or the deft handling of a Kia EV6, the Ariya generally impresses all-round. It feels as premium as its over-£40k price tag would suggest and is a welcome breath of fresh air for the relatively stagnant Nissan brand.
For a more detailed look at each aspect of the Nissan Ariya, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.