New Nissan Ariya vs Kia EV6
Nissan’s first electric SUV really is in at the deep end as it goes head to head with its most formidable rival, our reigning Car of the Year. Will it sink or swim?...
NEW Nissan Ariya 63kWh Advance
List price £43,845
Target Price £43,407
Nissan’s follow-up to the Leaf hatchback takes the form of an on-trend electric SUV. We’re testing it in its cheapest guise with the smaller of its two battery options
Kia EV6 RWD GT-Line
List price £47,195
Target Price £47,195
Blending a long range, fast charging and a spacious interior, our reigning Car of the Year is unequalled among electric SUVs, but now it faces a fresh rival with big ideas
The phrase “better late than never” was never more appropriate. You see, after taking the world by storm with the Nissan Leaf electric car, it took the Japanese brand 11 years to return with its SUV sequel, the Nissan Ariya. And with so many rivals already making a killing with electric SUVs, the phrase “resting on your laurels” is just as fitting – and a nifty pun if you know Nissan’s history.
This hesitance is extra-baffling because getting in early was key to the Leaf’s runaway success. It and the smaller Renault Zoe had the ‘affordable’ end of the electric car market tied up for ages. The Leaf also proved that Nissan really knows how to make an electric car; it has proven fantastically reliable over the years and remains popular to this day, new and used.
The Ariya has a Herculean task ahead of it to follow in the Leaf’s footsteps, then, and its tardy arrival means it finds itself surrounded by rivals that are fighting for exactly the same customers. And dominating the competition is the Kia EV6 – nothing less than our 2022 Car of the Year.
While it isn’t as obviously SUV-shaped as the taller Ariya, the EV6’s chunky styling details and slightly elevated driving position mean it’s just as entitled to the designation. Plus, with its long range and rapid charging capability being highlights of what is a hugely spacious and practical package, it steps into the ring as a strong bookies’ favourite.
In the blue corner, then, we have the EV6 in popular GT-Line trim, and in the copper corner we have the Ariya Advance, combining the model’s most affordable trim level with the smaller, 63kWh battery (a larger, 87kWh option is available, but that weighs in at almost £50k).
So, could Nissan’s pioneering electric car know-how be enough for the Ariya to knock the EV6 into the middle of last week? Let’s see.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Both of our contenders offer plenty of pace for most buyers, with the EV6 edging ahead to be the quicker of the two. Its 226bhp electric motor is enough to propel the EV6 from 0-60mph in 7.1sec. The Ariya isn’t far behind, though; with 214bhp, it completed the sprint in 7.6sec.
Both cars are two-wheel drive; the EV6’s single motor sends its power to the rear wheels and the Ariya’s to the front. While neither car has any trouble applying its power to the road, you can also have each car with four-wheel drive for extra traction in tricky conditions. That’ll cost you £3500 in the EV6; to have it in the Ariya, you’ll need to go for the version with the larger battery.
There’s little to split the two for efficiency; in our real-world tests, conducted on a private test track but simulating a mix of motorways, country lanes and urban roads, both achieved 3.1 miles/kWh. However, the EV6’s larger (77.4kWh usable) battery gives it a longer theoretical range of 240 miles, compared with 195 miles for the Ariya.
It’s also worth noting that our test was carried out on a hot day and the cars’ climate control systems were working extremely hard to maintain an interior temperature of 21deg C, so we’d expect better efficiency on a slightly cooler day. Indeed, in our summer range test earlier in the season (on a different route), the EV6 returned 3.6 miles/kWh.
The longer range of the EV6 meshes well with the fact that it’s the more comfortable car for lengthy trips. Its suspension does a fantastic job of isolating occupants from rougher road surfaces, and while there is a slightly firm edge to the ride when dealing with bigger bumps, it’s extremely well controlled and always calm. In contrast, while the Ariya softens impacts around town pretty well, it has a busier ride at higher speeds, subjecting occupants to a gentle but noticeable pogo effect.
Head down a twisty road and the Ariya handles tidily, containing body lean fairly well through corners. The EV6’s lower centre of gravity and tighter body control make it feel more nimble, though, plus it has more grip and smoother, more feelsome steering that gives you a better sense of connection with the front wheels (the Ariya’s has a tendency to weight up unnaturally at higher speeds).
Both cars have reassuring-feeling brakes that allow you to slow down smoothly, but the EV6’s sharper response to a press of the pedal inspires greater confidence when slowing down from high speeds.
The Ariya does a better job of isolating occupants from tyre rumble and suspension thump, though. It recorded a significantly lower decibel reading in our noise tests at both 30mph and 70mph – despite suffering from a bit more wind noise on the motorway.
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