Nissan Ariya review: performance, motor & drive
The Nissan Ariya is a refined and comfortable family SUV, with plenty of poke even in front-wheel drive form
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Full one-pedal driving is one of the highlights of the Nissan Leaf; it’s great when you’re driving round town and is a feature we wished more EVs came with. The Ariya being one of them, as it uses a setup called ‘e-Pedal Step’, which isn’t able to bring the car to a complete halt on its own. This should make it feel more like your typical petrol or diesel family car, but the level of regeneration is still strong enough to rely on the accelerator alone in urban settings or even country roads.
With it activated, you rarely have to touch the brakes, which contributes to the Ariya's more laid-back driving experience. Some rivals feature multiple levels of regen to suit how you want to drive, so we’d certainly welcome another mode in the Ariya, but the system is still well calibrated and easy to get to grips with.
Nissan Ariya 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
Entry-level versions of the Ariya are fitted with a single electric motor to drive the front wheels, producing a modest 215bhp, and 300Nm of torque available at an instant. It might weigh over two tonnes, but 0-62mph in even the least potent version takes just 7.5 seconds, which is plenty of performance for a family SUV. Meanwhile, the top speed stands at 100mph.
Upgrading to the 87kWh battery also gets you a stronger 239bhp electric motor for the front wheels, so you never feel the weight of that heavier battery as 0-62mph is dispatched within 7.6 seconds. The ease at which you can get the FWD Ariyas up to speed makes the car feel relaxing while on the move, as very little motor whine comes through when cruising.
You can get your Ariya with a dual-motor e-4ORCE powertrain that produces 302bhp for a rapid 5.7-second 0-62mph time and 124mph top speed. The Ariya e-4ORCE is certainly swift, with the addition of all-wheel drive helping to put the power down in slippery conditions, however it can’t quite match the pace of a dual-motor Tesla Model Y which also gets dual motors for all-wheel drive. There is a 389bhp Performance edition Ariya still to come though that’ll do 0-62mph in close to five seconds flat.
Refinement in the Ariya is very good indeed. The suspension is a little on the firm side, but the setup is compliant and manages to handle bumps smoothly, so the ride in the big Nissan is comfortable overall. Even with the heavier 87kWh battery on board the Ariya feels composed, but particularly sharp imperfections at higher speeds can get through into the cabin and jiggle occupants around.
The Ariya also feels more agile and engaging to drive than its closest rivals, thanks in large part to the steering which feels direct and offers a nice weight in the Standard drive mode, where it seemed well matched to the other controls. Switching to Sport mode adds some heft to the wheel and sharpens up throttle response, but doesn’t feel necessary in a car like this.
When we drove the range-topping Ariya e-4ORCE we didn’t find it noticeably sharper to drive than the regular front-wheel drive versions. Even with the extra weight from the additional motor on the rear axle and big 87kWh battery, body roll is much the same when going quickly through corners. Even on 20-inch rims, the Ariya e-4ORCE was still as comfortable, if not slightly more so, than the regular Ariyas we’d driven, while the all-wheel drive provided a little extra security on slippery roads.
So, unless you really think the extra AWD grip is necessary where you live, we’d stick with the front-wheel drive models and save a chunk of change in the process.
In This Review
- 1VerdictComfortable, refined and striking, Nissan’s follow-up to the pioneering Leaf is a strong contender in the electric family-car class
- 2Range, battery & chargingReal-world range and rapid-charging speeds are both decent, but could be better
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Ariya should be reasonably cheap to run and maintain, not to mention a very tempting company-car option
- 4Performance, motor & drive - currently readingThe Nissan Ariya is a refined and comfortable family SUV, with plenty of poke even in front-wheel drive form
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainmentNissan’s first electric SUV isn’t the cheapest on sale today, but is priced competitively against its premium-feeling rivals
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Ariya’s cabin is more spacious than its rakish roofline might suggest, but rivals offer significantly more boot space
- 7Reliability & safety ratingA lengthy list of driver assistance systems and brand-new EV platform suggests safety shouldn’t be a concern with the Nissan Ariya