Nissan was a big innovator when it released the all-electric Leaf a decade ago and the Japanese automaker is once again looking to shake things up with the new 2021 Nissan Ariya.
Not only will the fully electric crossover have available all-wheel drive, but the long-range front-wheel-drive variant is also projected to have an impressive 482 kilometres of range, two standout attributes that make it unique in the quickly growing electric vehicle segment. The availability of AWD and the long range make it a rarity in the mainstream, non-luxury EV market. A 65 kWh battery is used in standard range models, while long-range models get a 90 kWh battery; both will be available for front-wheel-drive and AWD models. The AWD model’s range hasn’t been released yet but Nissan stated the range for the whole lineup would be between 321 and 482 km, and the AWD model’s range will predictably be lower than the front-wheel-drive version’s estimated 482 km. Depending on the model, torque will range from 221 pound-feet to 443 lb-ft.
Nissan is promising “exceptional handling” due to a “near-equal” front-to-rear weight distribution, a rigid structure, and a low centre of gravity due to the battery’s location.
The five-passenger Ariya will also enable EV fanatics to use one-pedal driving with its “e-Pedal” and models with AWD will regenerate torque at all four corners.
Nissan is calling its electric AWD system “e-4ORCE” and will use twin electric motors to power each axle. The system also works at all speeds and besides being able to drive both axles, the Ariya also uses brake-based torque vectoring at each wheel to help it be more nimble. With 14.6 cubic feet of trunk space, AWD model will have slightly less cargo capacity than the front-drive version’s 16.5 cu.ft.
The Ariya’s style is heavily based on the concept car of a similar name and the designers have integrated LED lighting into Nissan’s familiar V-shaped grille. There are two sharkfin antennas, a roof-mounted spoiler, and a floating contrast roof design with a bit of a sportback shape. The taillight extends the entire width of the car and 19- or 20-inch wheels will be available. The SUV will be available in six two-tone colours with a black roof and three full-body colours and it also debuts Nissan's new logo, which it will be using going forward.
Technology will play a big role in this new EV, and drivers can use voice prompts and a “digital assistant” to control the car, which is connected to the internet for better results and also enables over-the-air updates. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility come standard. Even with all the tech, one of the interior highlights will be Nissan’s extremely comfortable “Zero Gravity” seats.
The interior is very minimal and modern-looking with copper-coloured accents, ambient lighting, and a large single housing for both the 12.3-inch instrument cluster and the 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Most of the buttons are touch-capacitive with haptic feedback, many placed within the wood trim and lighting up only when the car is on. While that may not be the best for usability, it makes the cabin look clean and streamlined. The unique two-spoke steering wheel also has touch capacitive buttons. A head-up display is also available.
One of the benefits of the EV powertrain is the ability to package the interior in new ways, and the Ariya has a nearly flat floor with only the centre console separating the driver and passenger, meaning legroom should be abundant with the wide-open footwell. Nissan also includes a tray that folds out from the instrument panel can slide out to become a tabletop. The company says the Ariya has the footprint of a Nissan Rogue but the interior space of the much larger Murano.
Of course, the Ariya will come standard with Nissan’s suite of driver assistance and safety technology including front and rear automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and high-beam assist. A 360-degree reverse camera, “Intelligent” forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control with driver attention monitoring and hands-free, single-lane highway operation will also be available (works only when certain conditions are met and still requires a driver’s full attention). Using the navigation system and 3D map data, the Ariya is also able to handle lane changes, passing, and exiting on multi-lane highways with reduced driver intervention when the conditions for use are met.
The 2022 Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Canada later in 2021.