The top model of the Ariya series connects two electric motors for 306 hp. We tried out how the currently most powerful Nissan drives.
You don't have to explain to anyone at Nissan how electric cars work. After all, the Nissan Leaf was already driving merrily through the landscape when Elon Musk was still tinkering with the first Tesla Roadster without success. But in the meantime the honorable Leaf has settled his succession and left the show stage to the young Ariya. After the two front-wheel drive vehicles, it now appears as an all-wheel drive variant. This means a further complication of the model name to "Ariya e-4orce" and a second electric motor on the rear axle. 150 kW at the front and 100 kW at the rear, the two machines combine to give a system output of 225 kW/306 hp. That sounds like fun, but even more so the system torque of the two machines. It is 600 Newton meters and thus twice as high as in the front-wheel drive variants of the Ariya.
The inclined viewer notices little of all this, because Nissan does not give the Ariya e-4orce any special design, apart from the nameplate there is no difference to the two colleagues with front-wheel drive. This also applies to the interior, to which the Nissan designers have devoted particular attention. The surfaces with velor and wood texture look good and are nice to the touch, where all that money ended up (we'll come to the price later) can be explained to the neighbors when they try it out. A real eye-catcher in the literal sense are the switches integrated into the grained surface, which only shine out of the imitation wood when ready for operation. It looks really stylish, but is ergonomically not that great.
Cargo space is shrinking a bit
The space available in the double heart version of the Ariya is only marginally restricted. Not at all for the crew and a little in terms of loading volume (415 instead of 468 liters with the rear seats up), whereby the actual floor space in the loading area also corresponds to the front wheels. The volume loss takes place in the compartment below. While the headroom in the back seats is absolutely fine despite the steeply sloping roof, the silhouette keeps what it promises when it comes to overview: Rather moderate towards the rear. The 360-degree cameras showing the surroundings on the central screen are commendably standard on all Ariya, which defuses this issue.
But we're not just there to watch, we're mainly looking for the 600 Newton meters. They come into their own as soon as you enter the freeway, where the all-wheel-drive Ariya beams in the acceleration lane at a good distance in front of a convoy of trucks. And then at each end of a speed limit, because it's just fun, zooming out the following traffic from the rear-view mirror.Beautifully spontaneous, but also beautifully velvety without the abrupt eruption of other power electricians, the Ariya pushes forward sustainably and should – this remains untested at the first driving date – only stop accelerating at 200 km/h. The front-wheel drive Ariya are already limited at 160 km/h.
It's moving forward quickly
The Aria e-4orce also masters the courageous thrust without a fearsome kick in the back from a standing start (0 to 100 km/h 5.7s) and particularly outclasses its two 2WD colleagues, they need around two seconds more. But that is only half the truth, because with the additional rear engine, there are no steering influences during strong acceleration, which the single engine variants are not spared.
What the four-wheel drive brings above all can be seen in the curve. Here, the front-wheel drive Ariya models left a rather mixed impression on us, and the e-4orce now comes to their rescue. In the future, the phonetically rather unfortunate combination will refer to all electrified Nissan models with all-wheel drive variants, including the Nissan X-Trail with the e-Power hybrid drive. The additional power from the rear keeps the Ariya neutral on track even at high speeds and understeer tendencies at bay.
When it gets very smooth and slippery, all-wheel drive comes into its own, and the Nissan Ariya e-4orce is no exception. It stays neutral here much longer when cornering, but also decides to understeer at the end of traction. It helps here, despite the need to drive straight ahead when cornering is urgent, to use the accelerator pedal to request additional propulsion. The electronic control between the front and rear axles brings the load under control and the car back on course.
However, this happens in the border areas that normal users of an electric SUV rarely taste, the Ariya is not a circuit racer. The suspension is more noticeable in everyday life, which wants to represent sportiness through hardness in a somewhat yesterday's way, but loses sight of comfort. This is not always nice, especially on bad roads. On the other hand, the very upright handling with no tendency to sway is pleasing.
Fill up with a maximum of 130 kW
Nissan has rejected the 800-volt technology used by competitors such as the Kia EV6 for the Ariya. Accordingly, the maximum charging capacity of DC fast chargers ends at 130 kW. The standard three-phase AC charger fills up the Ariya overnight at the wall box at an acceptable rate. How far the remarkably large 87 kWh battery (net, gross it is 91 kWh) takes you depends on the time of year and, above all, your driving style.On top of the WLTP value of 20 kWh/100 km specified, you can certainly add another three to five kWh in real traffic, and the consumption of the high SUV is considerable, especially at high speeds. On the eco lap, the front-wheel drive Ariya achieved 19.7 kWh/100 km in our test, the all-wheel drive version should be slightly higher.
All that remains is a look at the prices. The front-wheel drive Ariya has already raised the bar to a dizzy height. For the e-4orce Ariya, the entry threshold rises to 66,490 euros, with the option of a further 2,500 euros for extras (20-inch wheels and nappa leather). In that respect, the good old Leaf was more pleasant after all.
Anyone who is interested in the Nissan Ariya beyond the basic motorization with a small battery, which is certainly not bad, should choose the full-fat version with all-wheel drive right away. The 3,000 euro surcharge for two motors and twice as much torque doesn't matter given the price level. In addition, the all-wheel drive brings considerable progress in forced cornering and especially in winter operation on slippery surfaces. It is also much faster than the 87 kWh Ariya with only one driven axle. And, not unimportant: The two machines also bring twice the trailer load, 1.5 tons instead of the meager 750 kg of the 2WD variants.