When we first met in July, it seemed like we had swiftly found the sweet spot of the Nissan Ariya range. This new electric crossover has plenty of kerb appeal and great handling, and the base model with front-wheel drive has 215 hp and a range of 250 miles.
Nissan has been able to quickly add additional models to the lineup, including this top-of-the-line offering, thanks to the modularity of electric car designs in preparation for its ongoing rollout in the UK.
This model replaces the base car’s 63kWh battery with an 87kWh one and adds a second electric motor in the back to make it four-wheel drive (named e-4orce, a spellchecker’s worst nightmare) and boost the power to 302 horsepower. The larger battery is also available without the e-4orce technology, increasing the range to 331 miles (from 311 miles in the e-4orce vehicle). In milder weather, we were able to see an indicated range of 230 miles on our test route.
There wasn’t a huge difference between the two types of vehicles that we tried out back-to-back: front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The additional power and torque (doubled to 443lb ft) provided by the rear motor is obvious, but is still delivered subtly.
Even on the slick roads of our Danish test route, there is a noticeable improvement in traction. As a result, the drivetrain only sees marginal improvements, and the basic car’s superb level of refinement is unaffected by the added power and battery life. With the e-Pedal engaged, you can drive with just the touch of a pedal.
There is a trade-off between increased capacity and improved handling because of the added weight. The steering is rather bouncy, which just adds to the fact that it is boring and uninteresting to drive. The sharper responses you get when you press the Sport button are quickly overshadowed by the irritating high-pitched whirring the car generates. In addition, the ride is not exactly luxurious.
The dashboard buttons are a bit hard to reach out to, and the center tunnel buttons require an equally awkward bend of your arm to reach back and down to. Despite the outstanding aesthetics of the inside, the design leaves something to be desired in terms of ergonomics. Nonetheless, the interior design and feel of the vehicle are a significant improvement over the Nissan Leaf, complementing the vehicle’s sleek exterior and balanced proportions. You can tell this electric vehicle means business.
Some customers will be willing to pay for the premium features such as increased driving range, more power, and driven wheels. The larger battery and e-4orce both raise the price by £5750. However, this does not improve the Ariya’s driving experience, thus the original conclusion still stands: the sweet spot in the range is located significantly lower.