Nissan Ariya review

Category: Electric car

The Ariya electric SUV is practical and well-equipped, and the bigger battery version has a competitive range

Blue Nissan Ariya front right driving
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  • Nissan Ariya interior dashboard
  • Blue Nissan Ariya boot open
  • Nissan Ariya infotainment touchscreen
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  • Blue Nissan Ariya front cornering
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  • Blue Nissan Ariya left static boot open
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  • Nissan Ariya interior front seats
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  • Nissan Ariya interior detail
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  • Blue Nissan Ariya underfloor boot storage
  • Blue Nissan Ariya front right driving
  • Blue Nissan Ariya rear cornering
  • Nissan Ariya interior dashboard
  • Blue Nissan Ariya boot open
  • Nissan Ariya infotainment touchscreen
  • Blue Nissan Ariya right driving
  • Blue Nissan Ariya front cornering
  • Blue Nissan Ariya front left driving
  • Blue Nissan Ariya rear cornering
  • Blue Nissan Ariya rear right driving
  • Blue Nissan Ariya left static boot open
  • Blue Nissan Ariya headlights detail
  • Nissan Ariya wheel detail
  • Nissan Ariya interior front seats
  • Nissan Ariya interior back seats
  • Nissan Ariya interior detail
  • Nissan Ariya interior detail
  • Nissan Ariya interior detail
  • Blue Nissan Ariya underfloor boot storage
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Introduction

What Car? says...

We’re not sure how an electric SUV can be "honourable" but that’s what Ariya means so maybe Nissan knows something we don't. What we do know is that the Nissan Ariya is the Japanese brand’s second proper electric car and its first new one for more than a decade.

We say "proper" because we’re not counting the e-NV200 Combi (effectively a van with windows) but we are counting the Nissan Leaf  – a model that helped revolutionise the electric car. 

Why has it taken Nissan so long to launch a follow-up to the Leaf? Well, it’s fair to say that electric vehicles haven't taken off as quickly as the company hoped. As a result, by the time the Ariya arrived it already had plenty of rivals to contend with.

Those rivals include regular boxy electric SUVs such as the Skoda Enyaq, coupé-shaped models including the Tesla Model Y and Volvo EC40 and slightly lower-riding cars like the Kia EV6 (which is a former What Car? Car of the Year).

Read on to find out whether the Nissan Ariya is could enough to keep pace with the best electric SUVs and whether we'd recommend buying one...

Overview

The Nissan Ariya is a well-equipped and practical electric SUV available with a choice of two battery sizes. However, plenty of rivals are better to drive and can charge up more quickly. The entry-level 63kWh Engage represents good value, but we think the best version of the Ariya is the 87kWh Advance, which has a competitive range between charges and is very well equipped.

  • Stylish and high-quality interior
  • Even entry-level models are well equipped
  • 87kWh version has a competitive range
  • Not great to drive
  • Rivals can charge quicker
  • So-so performance for an electric car
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Nissan Ariya is available with a choice of two batteries, and two or four-wheel drive. Range between charges depends, of course, on which battery you go for.

The cheapest 63kWh option can officially manage around 250 miles on a full charge, which is similar to the entry-level Skoda Enyaq 60. That said, we’d expect 170-210 miles in the real world, depending on how warm the weather is.

If that’s not enough for your needs, the 87kWh battery is the one to go for. It pushes the cost up but also increases the official range to 329 miles. In our real-world winter range test it managed 269 miles, so expect close to 300 miles in the summer months.

The Ariya is easy to drive smoothly thanks to its well-judged and predictable response to accelerator inputs. Both battery options come with a single electric motor as standard, which drives the front wheels.

Acceleration isn’t particularly rapid by electric car standards, although it's still quicker than most petrol or diesel alternatives. In our tests of two-wheel-drive versions, the 63kWh managed 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds, with the 87kWh taking 8.3 seconds.

The 87kWh e-40rce four-wheel-drive Ariya has 302bhp and drops the official 0-62mph time to 5.7 seconds (top speed goes up from 100mph to 124mph). However, the extra weight cuts the official range to 319 miles.

Nissan ARIYA image
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At the top of the range, there's a four-wheel-drive Evolve+ version with 389bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds, although range drops again, to 310 miles. A Tesla Model Y Long Range is even quicker and can officially travel 331 miles.

The Ariya isolates occupants from speed bumps well enough, but two-wheel-drive versions tend to clomp clumsily over sharper bumps, and rock you back and forth in your seat along faster roads. That’s on standard 19in wheels and with optional 20in rims things are amplified, so if ride comfort is a priority, try the Genesis GV60 or Skoda Enyaq.

Things improve in e-4orce cars, which get tweaked suspension to deal with the extra weight of a second motor. As a result, they're more controlled and calmer than single-motor versions, with less of the pogoing effect.

Around town, the steering is light enough to make low-speed manoeuvres straightforward. However, at higher speeds, the steering has a tendency to weight up unnaturally, giving you less confidence than in the smoother-steering Kia EV6 and Enyaq. The Ariya leans more than either of those rivals through tight turns.

The response from the brake pedal isn't quite as smooth or predictable as in an EV6 or GV60, but it still deserves a special mention. In some electric cars it can be tricky to judge how hard to push the pedal to slow down smoothly because of the regenerative braking. In the Ariya, you don’t even make a conscious effort – it happens naturally, just as it should.

The Ariya is fairly hushed at town speeds – even by electric car standards – but there's more wind and road noise (especially with 20in alloys) than in an Enyaq or GV60 at a steady 70mph. 

For anyone thinking of taking an electric SUV off road, the Ariya’s 170mm ground clearance is more generous than on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, GV60 and EV6. However, the nose is still too low for most shallow inclines and the road-biased tyres don’t generate much grip.

Meanwhile, the Ariya’s Snow drive mode, which is designed to help maintain traction in slippery conditions, simply cuts power to the driven wheels as soon as they slip rather than metering it out to maintain progress. As a result, you’re not going to get you very far off the beaten track (a Subaru Solterra is a more capable electric 4x4).

Driving overview

Strengths Easy to drive smoothly; good range of battery and performance options

Weaknesses Noisier than rivals at motorway speeds; unsettled ride

Blue Nissan Ariya rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

If there’s one thing that’ll really impress you about the Nissan Ariya, it’s the interior. It looks and feels surprisingly upmarket – especially when you consider that interior quality has long been an area of weakness for the smaller Nissan Leaf.

There's lots of soft-touch material on the top of the dashboard and on the insides of the doors, along with a big slab of what looks like wood across the dashboard face.

The touch-sensitive air-con controls glow through it, and you press the dashboard to adjust the interior temperature. You get haptic feedback when you press them, but they're not as user-friendly as proper buttons and can be a little difficult to see in bright sunlight.

How about the driving position? In short, it’s mostly good. You’re well elevated above the road (more so than in a Genesis GV60 or Kia EV6) and the seat lines up neatly with the steering wheel and pedals.

However, the Ariya's interior is let down a bit by a central armrest that sits higher than the one on the door, leading to a crooked seating position when resting both your elbows. All models have comfortable seats with plenty of side support and a wide range of adjustments – which you can make electrically on Advance trim and above (which also adds adjustable lumbar support).

The elevated driving position means you're treated to a great view out of the front. Rear visibility is decent enough too, so you shouldn’t struggle when it comes to seeing out over your shoulder. As for parking, you get front and rear sensors. Entry-level Engage gets a rear-view camera while all the other trims get an upgraded one with 360-degree bird’s eye view.

Regardless of which trim you go for, you’ll find a 12.3in digital driver's display behind the steering wheel and a 12.3in infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. Higher spec Evolve trim adds a head-up display.

Disappointingly, the infotainment screen is slow to boot up and features the same dated graphics as older Nissan set-ups, looking a tad fuzzy compared to the screens in most rivals. It’s certainly not as clear as the high-def touchscreen in a GV60 or Tesla Model Y, nor is the operating system as user-friendly.

You get plenty of infotainment gadgets though, including Android Auto (wired) and Apple CarPlay (wireless), a DAB radio and built-in sat-nav. Wireless phone-charging is standard on all versions except entry-level Engage. The standard six-speaker sound system lacks punch, but the 10-speaker Bose system (standard on Evolve trim) delivers much better sound quality.

Interior overview

Strengths Interior looks and feels upmarket; good visibility

Weaknesses Infotainment system could be sharper to use

Nissan Ariya interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Despite the Ariya’s sleek and stylish roofline, there’s a surprising amount of room inside. In fact, Nissan has apparently maximised interior space by using the Japanese concept of Ma ("the mastery of empty space").

There’s loads of space in the front, with enough head and leg room for really tall occupants. The car is wide enough that the chance of bashing elbows with the person sitting next to you is low.

For odds and ends, there’s a small cubby with a wireless charging pad under the centre armrest, plus a couple of cupholders and decent-sized door pockets. The glovebox is fairly small, but in Evolve trim models, you can press a button behind the gear lever and a tray is magically summoned from the middle of the dashboard.

Nissan says the tray can be used for charging an iPad or as a desk for a small laptop, so you can do some work while waiting for the car to charge. It's not likely to have a huge impact on your life, but it’s a neat touch nonetheless.

The optional panoramic sunroof (standard on Evolve trim models) lowers the height of the ceiling slightly, to the point that six-footers in the back are likely to find their hair brushing the roof lining. Without the feature, rear head room is better than in a Kia EV6 and Genesis GV60 but not the Skoda Enyaq.

Leg room, on the other hand, is hugely generous no matter which version you go for – broadly on a par with the Enyaq. The floor is flat so a middle rear passenger doesn’t have to splay their feet, as they would in a Volvo EC40

When it comes to rear storage, you get a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, storage pockets on the backs of the front seats and space for a drinks bottle in the door cubby.

The Ariya’s rear seatbacks can be reclined by a small degree to improve long-distance comfort. For times when you need a little more luggage space, all versions come with 60/40 split-folding rear seats that lie almost flat, giving you a big extending load bay. All versions except entry-level Engage come with a powered tailgate.

On paper, the Ariya’s 466-litre boot falls short of some rivals, but we managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases below the load cover, matching the BMW iX1 and beating the seven we squeezed into the EV6. Opting for four-wheel drive reduces that space to 408 litres – about the same size as the EC40’s boot. If boot space is a top priority, take a look at the Enyaq (585 litres).

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of space for occupants

Weaknesses Optional panoramic roof eats into head room; 4x4 version loses boot space

Blue Nissan Ariya boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

As a cash buy, the cheapest Nissan Ariya in Engage trim with the smaller battery costs slightly more than a Skoda Enyaq 60, but less than most other entry-level electric SUVs.

In our preferred Advance trim level, it’s competitively priced against the Tesla Model Y RWD and Volvo EC40. With the bigger battery in Advance trim it costs slightly more than an Enyaq 85, but is significantly cheaper than a Model Y Long Range or GV60.

If you go down the PCP finance route, you might find that the Ariya is cheaper than most of those rivals – although it varies on a monthly basis as manufacturers adjust APR rates and offer various incentives. You can check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

Entry-level Engage trim comes with 19in alloy wheels, automatic windscreen wipers, fabric upholstery, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and a heat pump (for more efficient warming of the interior).

We reckon Advance trim is worth going for because it adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a heated front windscreen, which will be ideal during the winter months. You also get a powered tailgate, wireless phone-charging and rear privacy glass.

Top-spec Evolve trim adds even more bells and whistles, including ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, a head-up display and an upgraded Bose stereo system. However, at that price, the Ariya no longer seems such a good deal. Evolve+ adds larger 20in wheels and blue leather upholstery.

Unfortunately, the Ariya isn't one of the fastest charging electric cars. It can accept a maximum of 130kW from a CCS public charging station. That's on a par with the BMW iX1, but the Genesis GV60, Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y can all accept well over 200kW.

In ideal conditions, the 63kWh version of the Ariya takes just over half an hour to charge from 10-80%. The larger 87kWh battery will take around 35 minutes. A 7kW home wall box should deliver a 0-100% charge in about 10 hours on the 63kWh model, and 14 hours on the 87kWh.

The Ariya scored five stars out of five for safety when it was tested by Euro NCAP. However, a closer examination of the scores shows that the EV6 and GV60 did a slightly better job of protecting child and adult occupants in a simulated crash.

Every Ariya has an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can detect cars, stationary objects, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, traffic-sign recognition and rear cross-traffic alert (to warn you of the presence of other vehicles when you’re reversing). 

We don’t have any reliability data for the Ariya. The Nissan Leaf was reported to be one of the most dependable electric cars in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Nissan as a brand didn’t fare so well, claiming 19th place out of the 32 manufacturers, below Kia, Tesla and Volvo.

Costs overview

Strengths Well-equipped

Weaknesses Plenty of faster-charging rivals


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Nissan Ariya infotainment touchscreen

FAQs

  • The Ariya is a bigger car than the Nissan Qashqai but not by an enormous amount: it's 170mm longer, 25mm taller and 15mm wider (excluding door mirrors).

  • No, all versions of the Ariya have five seats. If you're looking for an electric seven-seat SUV there are a few options to consider, including the Kia EV9, the Mercedes EQB, the Mercedes EQS SUV and the forthcoming Peugeot E-5008 and Volvo EX90.

  • The 63kWh battery Ariya has an official range of 250 miles, while the front-wheel-drive 87kWh version has a 329-mile official range (dropping to 319 miles with four-wheel drive fitted).

  • The 87kWh Advance. It's very well equipped and has a competitive range between charges.

At a glance
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RRP price range £39,645 - £59,025
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £79 / £118
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £158 / £236
Available colours