Despite being an early EV adopter with the Leaf hatchback, it has taken Nissan a while to come up with a second EV. With the Ariya SUV, it finally has. Well, almost. The car we’re driving today is a pre-production car and our time with it was limited, but it was enough to show that the Ariya could be a very compelling entry in the class currently led by the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.
Nissan’s contender for the Volkswagen ID 4 class does look like a pretty thorough job. It’s based on the brand-new CMF-EV platform that’s shared with the Renault Megane E-Tech Electric and will underpin a whole range of EVs from the two brands.
Unlike those rivals, entry-level Ariyas are front-wheel drive, with higher-power versions getting an additional rear motor. While that lay-out means that there is definitely no room for a frunk, the advantage should be a deeper boot. That said, interior space is only marginally more generous than an ID 4.
Another area where Nissan and Renault’s approach differs from the Volkswagen Group brands is in the design. Just looking at the Megane E-Tech and Nissan Ariya, it’s not obvious that they’re mechanically related. Where the Renault is more of a chunky, sporty hatchback, the Ariya is bigger and more SUV-like, but with fairly simple lines and clean surfaces.
The Ariya also comes with bigger batteries and more power than the Megane. The entry-level model we’re driving here has a 63kWh pack and a single 215bhp motor for a WLTP range of 250 miles. An upgraded 87kWh battery pack will be available too, and comes with a single 239bhp front motor, or ‘E-4orce’ dual motors with 302bhp or 388bhp. Range figures for the big battery have yet to be confirmed.
250 miles from a 63kWh battery is decent if nothing special. What isn’t so good is the maximum charging speed of 130kW. Nissan says that the charging curve is actually very flat. In other words, it will be able to maintain that maximum charging speed for longer. Even so, when Kia and Hyundai manage 230kW, 130kW is a little disappointing. A 10-80% charge of the bigger battery will take at least 40 minutes, whereas the Kia EV6 can do the same in 18.