The Nissan Ariya Has Answers

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Ariya has the answers. Or, at least, Nissan hopes so. Overall, there has been a positive consumer response to Nissan’s upcoming all-electric SUV — it is a well thought out and attractive EV even in an increasingly competitive market. It looks and acts the way it does in part because Nissan was the first major automaker to sell a mass-market electric vehicle, and has been doing it for 10 years. The company has learned from that.

People have loved — and loved to pick on — the Leaf since it went on sale in 2010, but it’s 2020 now and we are in a different era. We are in an era in which a little hatchback with double-digit range — a car that once felt like the future — is now unquestionably from the past.

Therefore, Nissan’s next EV will be bigger, better, and bolder — and could spark new life into Nissan’s electric brand. It can go further than the Leaf ever could, because of course it can, and it answers a lot of questions people kept bugging Nissan about regarding the Leaf. Like, why does it use a passive air-cooling system for the battery? Answer: The Ariya doesn’t. Why is it so small? The Ariya isn’t. Why does it use CHAdeMO? The Ariya doesn’t, at least not in the U.S.

But let’s start with the basics. As you can see from the pictures, the new SUV will look familiar to anyone who caught a glimpse of the Ariya Concept that was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show last fall. This compact crossover looks like a more angular, shorter Rogue, but there’s a bevy of EV touches that show that, after selling 475,000 Leaf EVs in the past decade, Nissan is ready to make another splash in the EV pool.

The dominant front feature is the shield, or what everyone else calls a grille. Since EVs don’t need the same cooling mechanisms that ICE vehicles do, Nissan was able to do away with tradition here and came up with a more artistic version, with a smooth exterior over a Japanese kumiko pattern that cleverly hides some of the safety and autonomous driving sensors.

The shield, or whatever you want to call it, is an important part of the “new electrified brand identity” that Nissan wants to forge with the Ariya. Front and center of this new identity — literally — is the updated logo that Nissan also debuted today. Floating in the center of the Ariya’s shield, the new logo has 20 LEDs so it can be illuminated and, if you listen carefully to the PR words, “The new brand logo represents Nissan’s passion and dedication towards innovation by challenging conventional approaches. In keeping both sun and bar design elements, the logo signals a respect for the company’s heritage, while moving towards a future of mobility services and electrification.” Translation: this is an important vehicle for Nissan.

Available with 19- or 20-inch wheels, the Ariya will come in four powertrain options. There will be two battery packs and then either front-wheel drive or e-4ORCE all-wheel drive for each. The most powerful setup will produce 290 kW and 443 pound-feet of torque. The smaller, 65-kWh battery pack holds 63 kWh of useable energy, while the 90-kWh pack holds 87 kWh. That means that Nissan is currently estimating that the FWD, long-range Ariya will be able to go approximately 300 miles. As for the other configurations, for now Nissan is giving the approximate estimates:

  • Standard battery, AWD: 200-mile range, 0–100 km/h in 5.4 seconds
  • Standard battery, FWD: 210-mile range
  • Long range battery, AWD: 270-mile range, 0–100 km/h in 5.1 seconds
  • Long range battery, FWD: 300-mile range

Those numbers should give an answer to the people who have been clamoring for Nissan to make a longer-range and quicker EV, and the fact that the Ariya will have CCS combo fast charging (up to 130 kW) standard in the U.S. shows that the company has been listening on that front as well.

Of course, another difference between the Ariya’s debut and the Leaf of 2010 is the EV landscape. While the first Leaf stood in a class by itself, the Ariya will come to market in a world where the the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y are playing. At 182.9 inches, the Ariya will be shorter than them by a bit, but expect this to be just the first of many comparison notes and tests for the new generation of electrified SUVs in the next few years.

Nissan is adding the latest safety tech as well, with the headline tech being the available ProPILOT Assist 2.0 technology that will feature “hands-off highway operation with Driver Monitoring System.” More mundane but still valuable safety technology includes Nissan Safety Shield 360 with automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and more. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration will all happen as well.

The interior, at least in pictures, looks clean and elegant, just how you’d like your EV to look. There’s a 12.3-inch instrument cluster monitor and a 12.3-inch center display that sit on one horizontal line that Nissan says makes the information they display easier to comprehend.

One of the reasons for the Ariya’s interior roominess (Nissan says the EV looks like a C-segment vehicle on the outside but feels like it has a D-segment interior and will have “segment-leading” interior space) is because of the way the engineers packaged things on the new Alliance CMF-EV platform. Using a skateboard-style platform like this with a floor-mounted battery offers engineers plenty of chances to do things differently, but not every company making an EV has changed the way things get packaged. Nissan has tried to do this with the Ariya, so the front hood can be shorter because it doesn’t need a transmission. With the HVAC system pushing air through the floor, there’s more room to stretch your legs. At least, that’s what Nissan says, but since we watched the reveal from Japan on our screens, we can’t see or touch the Ariya just yet.

Not many people have, but this will be different soon-ish. The Ariya will go on sale in Japan about a year from now and then in the U.S. later in 2021. Nissan will reveal the full specifications of its first electric SUV closer to the launch date. Even without knowing all of those details, what we learned today shows that Nissan has been paying attention to what you’ve all been asking for the past decade. Can the Ariya actually answer all of the requests? That’s a good question.

Images courtesy of Nissan

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