It’s amazing what you can learn about a car in half an hour. And that’s what I did (hopefully) earlier this week – driving a car that Nissan says will revolutionize the electric vehicle market here.
It’s called Ariya and it’s set to go on sale next month. I got the half hour in a special pre-production model to snip around Mondello Park.
So what can I tell you about 30 minutes drive? A surprising amount, I hope you’ll agree, but first let me set a few cornerstones.
The starting price was €48,995. Size and price make them key contenders for the award-winning Hyundai IONIQ5, KIA EV6, Volkswagen ID. 4 and Skoda ENYAQ.
This is a large crossover – one of the tallest – with plenty of room for rear seat passengers and a well-proportioned trunk, relatively flat and long. So a family has enough space.
Just to give you an idea of the overall size, it’s a fair bit taller than the Qashqai (but only slightly wider) and some of the space inside comes from the completely flat floor. It was also easy to get in at the back because the roof line is high. And there’s a great driving position.
I thought it looked particularly chic, with strong, sharp lines that blend into each other and balance out curvy shapes. A cleverly designed “waist” notch gives it an eye-catching profile.
Frontally it’s eye-catching, the rear less so, but the subtle side notch makes up for it for me. Does it look as good as the KIA EV6? It sure is eye-catching.
It’s made in Japan on a new Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi Alliance platform and there are two battery options: a 63kWh version (which I’ve driven) with a range of 402 kilometers and an 87kWh version that has a claimed range of 519 km. The manufacturer says that a fast charger will add 300 km in half an hour.
There are two standard equipment variants with an impressive range of safety, comfort and infotainment elements.
A minimalist dashboard means there are no traditional knobs or switches, and the display interface consists of a 12.3-inch instrument monitor and a 12.3-inch central display. That’s a lot of screen, but all useful.
The sliding center console is cleverly laid out – save for the hard-to-see buttons above it that let you select the mode you want. It was difficult to see those buttons in bright sunshine, one of the few gripes I had about the car. It might not seem like much, but I found it distracting.
I tested it in several modes: Eco, Boost (regenerative), E-Pedal (no need to use the brake so you can accelerate and decelerate with just the accelerator pedal), Sport and Standard.
I drove it briskly around the track despite never having squeaky tires, but it was interesting to observe how different it felt in Boost mode.
Of course, most people might play around with the modes for a while, but I think the majority will go with the standard and enjoy the car.
Just in case you like a bit of dynamism, its weight distribution – with the battery pack under the middle of the car – helped in that area and provided good road holding on our drives. And it can shift a bit – 0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds is decent for a car this big.
Apparently there’s a lot of interest, and manufacturers expect 1,500 people will buy one in a full year when production restrictions are lifted, and more than that in the years to come.
The first models are all front-wheel drive, but later next year there will be an all-wheel drive version.
Now it would be wrong of me not to point out the brevity of acquaintance and to acknowledge that the criticism of a car – any car – takes much longer to be judged.
So I’m not going to jump to conclusions or make sweeping statements as I’d probably have to add or retract one or the other conclusion.
But I want to say that you can get an idea of what makes a car in a relatively short amount of time.
It has been said by reviewers older and wiser than your humble servant that first 100-meter front-load impressions tend to linger for the rest of the test.
However, there are elements I’d like to explore further in day-to-day use, like those hard-to-see little buttons, actual battery drain under different conditions, how it feels on normal rougher roads, and so on. But I have to say it has all the hallmarks of an electric vehicle that will make a real impression.
There’s a growing market for cars like this – just look at how well the four rivals mentioned are doing. There is every reason to believe that the Ariya will also have a major impact.
https://www.independent.ie/life/motoring/car-reviews/nissan-on-right-track-to-win-you-over-with-electric-ariya-41648399.html Nissan on track to wow you with the electric Ariya