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First Drive: 2022 Nissan Ariya. Image by Nissan.

First Drive: 2022 Nissan Ariya
Nissanís new Ariya electric SUV gives VW and Toyota a run for their money.

   



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2022 Nissan Ariya

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Nissan is a pioneer of electric vehicles and it claims to have created the family SUV, but this is the first time those two technologies have met. This new five-seat SUV is called the Ariya, and it's here to do battle with the Volkswagen ID.4, the Skoda Enyaq iV and the new Toyota bZ4X. With strong range and strong looks, it's off to a good start, but will the driving experience live up to expectations?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh FWD Evolve
Price: Ariya from £43,845, Evolve from £47,840
Engine: 160kW electric motor
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Battery: 63kWh lithium-ion
Power: 218hp
Torque: 300Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 250 miles
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 99mph
Boot space: 468 litres

Styling

Nissan's styling has been a bit hit-and-miss in recent years, but the new Ariya is more bullseye than bull****. We aren't convinced about the expanse of glossy black plastic across the front, but the basic silhouette is quite attractive and the design is generally pretty clean. Compared with the first-generation Leaf and the e-NV200, it's a veritable oil painting. Crucially, it feels modern and forward-thinking without being alienating, and that's exactly what buyers will want.

Interior

Nissan has gone rogue with the Ariya's cabin, and the cabin is not what you'd call conventional. Conventional buttons have more or less vanished, but there are some climate control buttons hidden in the mock wood trim across the centre of the dashboard and in the plastic panel on the centre console.

The fake wood might be a bit naff, but there are some natty features, including the electrically operated storage bin-cum-tray table under the touchscreen and the sliding centre console, which can be moved to offer more rear space or a more open forward cabin, depending on your needs. And that isn't the only tech. The big touchscreen is good, if a little sluggish at times, but the layout is logical and relatively easy on the eye, while the same goes for the digital instrument cluster and the head-up display.

Build quality is as good as you'd expect from Nissan, by which we mean it's generally pretty good. The switchgear that remains is solid, the engineering seems sound and everything feels substantial enough to last the course. The only catch is some dodgy hard plastics around the door handles. Some iffy plastics are acceptable, but placing questionable materials around major touch points feels like a faux pas of the highest order.

Practicality

Space in the Ariya is plentiful, with more than enough space for those in the front and rear. Headroom is perfectly acceptable, even for tall passengers, and the legroom in the rear is good too. Storage space in the cabin is only average, although the double-glovebox effect of the bin in the centre of the dashboard is quite useful, even if the electrically operated draw has sharp edges and a tendency to stab passengers in the knee. Boot space is also commendable, if not exceptional, with 468 litres of luggage capacity in the front-wheel-drive example we tested. That might be less than you get in a VW ID.4, but it's still more than enough for most drivers' needs.

Performance

The Ariyaís performance is largely dependent on the version you pick. There are two battery sizes Ė 63kWh and 87kWh Ė and a selection of different motor options. The basic version is the 218hp single-motor option we tested. Itís only available with the 63kWh battery and it drives the front wheels alone, giving the car a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge

Those who choose the 87kWh battery get somewhat more choice of motors. The Ďstandardí option is the 242hp single-motor, front-wheel-drive system with a range of up to 329 miles on a charge, but the larger battery frees up an e-4orce all-wheel-drive system. That uses two electric motors to produce 306hp and permits a range of up to 310 miles on a charge.

Nissan expects the 87kWh, single-motor option to be the most popular, but we drove the lowly 63kWh car with the 218hp motor. The 250-mile range appears to be more or less achievable with a light foot and suitable road conditions, but the performance (0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 100mph) feels a bit lacklustre.

Ride & Handling

As with so many Nissan products, handling prowess is a long way down the Ariya's priority list. This is a car designed for comfort and serenity, and it fits the bill perfectly. The ride is generally very pleasant, with good damping and a sense of isolation from all but the biggest bumps. However, on the rare occasion when the car does get caught on the hop by a savage pothole, the weight of those batteries comes to the fore and you will feel the impact as the car flops into the rut.

With that innate softness, it's no surprise that handling isn't great, but you can still have fun. The Ariya doesn't wallow too much around corners and though the steering isn't feelsome, it's still quite precise and intuitive. Lively, the Ariya may not be, but it's easy enough to drive and it's quiet on the road.

Value

Ariya prices start at £43,845, which makes the Nissan slightly pricey compared with its rivals, but not excessively so. In comparison, the Skoda Enyaq iV is roughly £3,000 cheaper. The bigger problem is not the price of the base model, but that of the top-end versions. Choosing a top-of-the-range Evolve model with two-motor all-wheel-drive and the 87kWh battery will take the price up to over £56,000, and that's a lot of money for a Nissan.

It's a well-equipped Nissan, though. Every model comes with 19-inch aerodynamic (ugly) alloy wheels and two-zone climate control, as well as a 360-degree parking camera and more driver assistance tech than you'll know what to do with.

Verdict

The Ariya is a solid family car that just so happens to be an SUV. It isnít perfect Ė some questionable cabin materials let the side down and the performance is surprisingly weak Ė but itís a good all-rounder thatís more or less devoid of serious weaknesses. Itís spacious and comfortable and the range is strong, which instantly makes it a contender in this class. Perhaps it lacks character and the price is slightly high, but that canít stop it from being a great family EV.



James Fossdyke - 1 Jul 2022



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2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.

2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Ariya 63kWh Evolve. Image by Nissan.







 

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