Motoring with Joe Rayfus: Ariya hits the right notes

Nissan has once again stepped into the ‘EV’ spotlight but rather than for the Leaf, this time it’s because of their highly anticipated Ariya. Whilst this all-electric family SUV was initially launched almost two years ago, Nissan struggled with supply chain issues which delayed its widespread availability. Now that these issues seem to have been resolved, the Ariya should finally begin to grace Irish roads in the kind of numbers you’d expect from a much-loved brand such Nissan.

The Nissan Ariya is offered with a choice of two battery sizes: 63 kWh (starting at €39,995) and 87 kWh (from €51,995), along with options of either two-wheel drive or Nissan's e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive system. My 87kWh test car was equipped with the latter, and it’s particularly impressive, offering tons of grip on windy country roads. The dual-motor setup in the e-4ORCE model provides ample power, translating to brisk acceleration and confident overtaking capabilities. Despite its low centre of gravity, the Ariya doesn’t however offer the most dynamic of driving experiences, but then again few family SUV’s could claim that they do.

Now we’re getting to the stage with electric cars, where ‘range anxiety’ really doesn’t pass as an excuse for avoiding EV’s anymore. Even in its smaller 63 kWh battery size, the Ariya offers a respectable range of up to 404 km on a single charge (WLTP), the 87 kWh variant however pushes this to an impressive 532 km (WLTP). Admittedly, I didn’t ever quite get to that figure, but with a full charge I was regularly looking at a number north of 490km displayed on the binnacle. Comfortably, more than enough for the average Irish motorist’s weekly mileage.

When it comes to charging, the Ariya is equipped with a 130 kW fast-charging capability, allowing the battery to be replenished from 10% to 80% in just 30 minutes. For home charging, the Ariya supports up to 22 kW AC charging on e-4ORCE models and 7.4kW on 2WD versions.

Nissan has crafted the Ariya with a futuristic and elegant design that sets it apart from its rivals. The sleek, aerodynamic silhouette is complemented by a striking front grille, which features an illuminated Nissan logo and intricate patterns that catch the eye. The flowing lines and sculpted bodywork make the Ariya instantly distinguishable, while the distinctive LED lighting signature adds a touch of sophistication. Available in a range of 7 contemporary colours, the Ariya's exterior is as stylish as it is functional, with a focus on reducing drag and enhancing efficiency. All in all, the Ariya is probably the best looking mainstream electric SUV on the market today.

Step inside the Ariya, and you're greeted by a minimalist yet luxurious cabin that exudes a sense of calm and space. The flat floor, courtesy of the EV platform, enhances the feeling of openness, while high-quality materials and finishes provide a premium touch. But while it’s all lovely now, if you’ve kids, I’d recommend ‘scotch guarding’ those lovely fabrics!

The dual 12.3-inch displays dominate the dashboard, seamlessly integrating the infotainment and driver information systems. These screens are responsive and intuitive, offering features like navigation, smartphone connectivity, and access to a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems.

One of the standout features of the Ariya's interior is the ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link, which uses data from the navigation system to provide semi-autonomous driving capabilities. This technology not only enhances safety but also reduces driver fatigue, particularly on long motorway journeys. The spacious rear seats and generous boot capacity make the Ariya a practical choice for families, further bolstering its appeal.

In a market crowded with capable electric crossovers, the Nissan Ariya distinguishes itself with a harmonious blend of style, range, and technology. The Volkswagen ID.4, for instance, offers a similarly well-rounded package but lacks the Ariya's futuristic interior design, offers slightly less range but doesn’t offer a heat pump as standard.

The Ariya follows in the footsteps of the highly successful Nissan Leaf, which has been a pioneer in the EV market for over a decade, leading some to refer to the Ariya as Nissan’s difficult 2nd album. However, the Ariya builds on this electric legacy, offering enhanced performance, greater range, and a more luxurious experience, positioning itself as a worthy successor in Nissan's EV lineup.

For Irish motorists, the Nissan Ariya represents a compelling choice in the EV segment. Its impressive range, quick charging capabilities, stylish design, and advanced technology make it a strong contender against more established rivals. If you’re looking for an all-electric family car, the Ariya should be on your short-list!