Reader test team: Nissan Ariya
Nissan aren't strangers to overnight success, but can this large electric SUV follow in the Qashqai's class-defining footsteps? Here’s what our readers think...
If you've read our in-depth review of the Nissan Ariya, you know how it ranks against the best electric SUVs. Now it's the turn of our Reader Test Team to judge it on the vital factor of showroom appeal.
There’s no doubting just how pivotal – and ambitious – the Ariya is in Nissan’s plan for the future; it’s a flagship that seeks to represent just what the Japanese brand can offer in a post-petrol world, and it operates at a price point outside Nissan’s usual comfort zone. In fact, it faces premium models such as the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron head on, while facing the fashionable Ford Mustang Mach-E, the futuristic Hyundai Ioniq 5 and our Car of the Year for 2022, the Kia EV6. Not only that, but it also faces the challenge of luring loyalists away from the Tesla Model Y – and that car comes from the company that arguably wrote the electric car rulebook.
However, the Ariya's maker is a dab hand in knowing what buyers want (witness the massive popularity of the Nissan Qashqai family SUV), and it also has plenty of electric car experience to draw upon, with two generations of Nissan leaf behind it.
So, with order books now open for the Ariya, we invited a group of our readers to deliver their verdicts before customer deliveries begin in the summer.
Ian and Tricia Dewey
Age 54/56 Job Agriculture sales / company admin Drives Range Rover Evoque
Tricia “We have a vested interest in seeing the Ariya: we actually have one on order. We were a bit apprehensive about moving away from a premium brand, but what we’ve seen today is reassuring.”
Ian “I’m happy with the size of it; we have the dimensions, but it’s been quite tricky to judge its scale in photos. With the wheels pushed right out into the corners, there’s loads of space inside, too.”
Tricia “The doors are light and open really wide, so it’s very easy to get in and out, plus having a completely flat floor means rear seat passengers can easily slide through if one door is blocked.”
Ian “I like how the seat controls identify themselves on the infotainment display when you use them, so you don’t have to fumble around to find the right switch. Everything really seems like it was designed to be used, although you’ll either love or hate the haptic touch-sensitive climate controls. The voice control seems very alert; it immediately understood my voice when I said ‘Hey Nissan’.”
Tricia “I feel like I could get in and confidently drive the Ariya straight away, then fiddle and learn all the features later on.”
Age 74 Job IT consultant Drives Jaguar I-Pace
“Now that I’ve seen it in the metal, the Ariya is a far more imposing and substantial machine than I was expecting it to be. I have to say I’m surprised and impressed by the feeling of quality it offers, too.
“It seems a pretty practical package; I frequently have to take leftovers from DIY jobs to the tip, and I think the Ariya would be more than up to the task.
“It’s great that Nissan’s driver assistance tech [Pro Pilot Assist] is standard across the range, with blindspot monitoring being particularly important for safety.
“I’m also impressed by its unexpected features, such as the electrically powered glovebox that’s concealed below the infotainment screen. Such things really endear a car to me. And the fact that its charging port is illuminated highlights Nissan’s attention to detail.
“For me, it’ll come down to how the Ariya drives. It needs to be very good to tempt me when it’s time to replace my I-Pace. But purely on the basis of showroom appeal, it’s certainly in with a shout.
“The one issue I’ve found with my I-Pace is parts availability. It’s nice to think that, with the might of Nissan behind it, owners shouldn’t face that kind of problem.”
Age 58 Job Business development manager Drives Mercedes-Benz CLA
“I’m impressed by how sleek the Ariya is; the way the rear end slopes down is a bit like a Jaguar I-Pace – whether that’s deliberate or not. The black roof really helps to disguise its bulk, and the lines are definitely striking.
“Given how spacious the Ariya is, it does everything a family is likely to need it to, without looking like a tank. The boot could be bigger, but how often
do you fill it right up, anyway?
“The seats are extremely supportive and the driving environment is great; I like how the infotainment display subtly curves around without encroaching on your space. The haptic climate control buttons work well, too; you feel a positive click when you touch them.
“If you’re new to electric cars, the Ariya won’t take too much getting used to, despite all the clever tech it packs.
“The ‘Kumiko’ theme is a little overdone, though; the Japanese wooden decor-inspired patterns dotted around inside are nice, but they look fussy when applied to the car’s nose. I’m not sure how the glossy plastic exterior parts will put up with a few years’ worth of stone chips, either.”
“I’m more than six feet tall, so I need plenty of head and leg room, but I can comfortably sit in the back, even with a panoramic sunroof eating into the head room and the front seats all the way back. I’m impressed by just how comfy and supportive the driver’s seat is, so long journeys should be a pleasure for driver and passengers.
“For me, the interior is the star. There are some great design touches, like the moving centre console which keeps everything in reach no matter how the seat is set. The touch controls for the air conditioning are excellent and, sensibly, separate from the main displays.
“Now that its premium arm, Infiniti, is no longer around, the Ariya shows that Nissan hasn’t lost sight of that market. It feels upmarket, it’s big on technology and it’s very distinctive. If that all resonates with buyers, Nissan could be onto a winner.”
Age 35 Job Tech director Drives Ford Fiesta
“It seems Nissan realises that not everyone is a car person; it needs to appeal to a wide audience. The Ariya shows a real focus on design and usability.
“I’m renovating my house and have learnt that money is best spent on the things you touch. In the Ariya, everything you make contact with feels really good, and details like the LED highlights make it a space you look forward to spending time in.
“The Tesla Model 3 broke the mould with its minimalist, open-plan interior, and the Ariya’s dashboard has a similarly clean, simple appeal, but is made more appealing by not being totally reliant on a touchscreen. When you set the climate control, you’re not just touching a glassy screen but actual textures, and it feels much more human.
“It’s a shame it doesn’t emulate Tesla’s ‘sentry mode’ security system, which monitors the car when you’re away from it, and that the only dash cam offered is a dealer-fit option. This tech really should be integrated.
“Nissan hadn’t previously been on my radar when it comes to choosing a car, but if this is the way the brand is thinking, I’ll definitely consider one.”
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