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Driven: 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce. Image by Nissan.

Driven: 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce
With two motors on board, the Ariya now offers more power and all-wheel-drive capability, but is it more compelling as a result?

   



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2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce 87kWh Evolve

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The Nissan Ariya has already made its mark as a solid performer in the increasingly competitive electric SUV market. But Nissan clearly has its sights set on bigger and better things, having upped the ante with the new e-4orce all-wheel-drive version. Offering more performance and more all-weather capability in exchange for a small reduction in range, will it be the most convincing Ariya yet?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce 87kWh Evolve
Price: Ariya from £46,145, e-4orce 87kWh Evolve from £58,590
Engine: two electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 87kWh lithium-ion
Power: 306hp
Torque: 600Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 310 miles
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Boot space: 408 litres

Styling

Telling any version of the Ariya from another is not easy, but at least every model looks good. The nose seems to be aging well, while the rest of the car manages to balance the demands of interior space, futuristic electric car styling and premium understatement quite well. It isn't a bad thing to look at, all told, but nor is it sexy. Yet that isn't really a key attribute for a family SUV (just look at the Kia Sportage) and the looks are hardly likely to keep customers at bay.

Interior

Upgrading to the Ariya e-4orce will make absolutely no difference to the carís interior, and thatís very good news indeed. Itís a smart, well designed place, and though it has gimmicks such as the sliding centre console and the strange storage tray under the touchscreen, weíre fans of the faux wood trim with integrated buttons and the overall design is modern and clean. We appreciate the upmarket build quality, too, which isnít always found on Nissans.

The touchscreen remains a bit of a sticking point Ė it isnít as good as the systems found in competitor models from the likes of Kia Ė but at least you can pair your phone and use the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tech. And even if youíre using the standard system, itís only the graphics that feel a bit outdated. It all works perfectly acceptably. And the digital instrument display is considerably more like it.

Practicality

Because of the second motor, the Ariya e-4orce has fractionally less boot space than the two-wheel-drive versions, but luggage capacity is still reasonable. At 408 litres, it's roughly 15 per cent down on the base model, but even that is more than sufficient for most people's needs. After all, it's more space than you get in a VW Golf. And passenger space is unaffected, which means you get ample rear legroom and sufficient headroom, too. Even for the taller rear-seat passenger.

Performance

With two electric motors (one on each axle) providing all-wheel drive and a chunky 306hp, the Ariya e-4orce is not what youíd call slow. Combine all that with a massive 600Nm of torque, and youíre left with a family SUV that gets from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds Ė a near-two-second improvement on the two-wheel-drive car and the sort of performance we expect from hot hatchbacks, rather than sensible crossovers. Itís almost alarmingly quick.

Naturally, that means the range has taken a hit. Although the e-4orce is fitted with the Ariyaís largest 87kWh battery, as opposed to the basic 63kWh unit, the official range stands at 310 miles. The two-wheel-drive version adds another 20 miles to that figure.

Of course, neither number is especially realistic. Although our test suggested more than 200 miles on a charge should be achievable without too much trouble, it would take a lot of careful urban driving to get close to 300 miles between trips to the plug. That said, the difference between the two- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Ariya isnít that great in the real world.

Ride & Handling

For the most part, the Ariya e-4orce feels much like the standard car in terms of ride and handling. It's a little bit firm over sharp bumps, just like the two-wheel-drive car, but generally speaking it's smooth and quiet enough. On a motorway in particular, it's pretty supple, and with the refinement of the powertrain it feels quite relaxing.

Unfortunately, you don't get much joie de vivre in terms of handling, despite the performance. The body still sways a bit in corners and the steering has little to no feel, but it's predictable and easy to pilot, which makes life a bit more pleasant. And it's certainly every bit as good as an X-Trail. As with other Ariyas, it feels at its best in town, where the punch comes in handy and the light steering is in its element.

Value

Although Ariya prices start at just over £46,000, that only buys the cheapest 63kWh version. Upgrading to the 87kWh battery takes the price to almost £52,000, and opting for the e-4orce sees prices rise higher still, starting at £54,595. As with the other versions of the Ariya, the e-4orce is offered in a choice of two different trim levels, though even the basic Advance offers plenty of kit, including two-zone climate control and a 360-degree manoeuvring camera. Moving up to the £58,590 Evolve model tested here, however, gets you a Bose sound system, heated and ventilated front seats and a panoramic roof.

Verdict

On paper, the e-4orce all-wheel-drive system looks to be a bit of a liability, limiting the Ariya's competitive range very slightly and commanding a noticeable premium. But every now and then, the extra power and extra traction will come in handy, and the difference to the real-world range is not that great. Whether it's worth the extra money (and whether you can stomach the slightly lower range) will depend on your circumstances, but this is arguably the best iteration of an already very competent electric SUV.



James Fossdyke - 30 Jun 2023



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2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce (US spec). Image by Nissan.







 

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