Starship Ariya, Nissan's 'force of wonder'
IT might look like it has been beamed from the future but you will be able to buy this striking all-electric SUV from Nissan within months, writes William Scholes.
Called the Ariya, it is one of those all-too-rare designs that immediately manages to render everything else old fashioned.
Whether or not you could call it beautiful is a separate question - for me, the answer is no - but full kudos to Nissan for deciding to build something so distinctive and utterly modern. It's loaded with desirability, too.
Building a larger Leaf or electrifying the Qashqai wouldn't do... The Ariya needs to make a statement because it will spearhead a push upmarket for Nissan. Prices are expected to start around £40k and reach as high as £60k.
That rough price bracket is already becoming congested with electric vehicles. Ford's Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y are perhaps closest in concept and the Ariya's size and price will also pitch it against BMW's completely underwhelming iX3.
Nissan is offering the Ariya with two different battery capacities - 63kWh and 87kWh - and in single-motor two-wheel-drive and twin-motor four-wheel-drive guises.
The longest-legged two-wheel-drive 87kWh configuration can manage up to 310 miles on a full charge, while the most powerful 'performance' model has 389bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds.
Beneath that, power outputs of 214bhp, 239bhp, 282bhp and 302bhp. Two-wheel drive models have 221lb.ft of torque while the four-wheel-drive cars get 413lb.ft or 443lb.ft.
The 63kWh battery and two-wheel-drive combination has the shortest range, of up to 211 miles.
Cars with the smaller battery come with a 7.4kWh charger; the larger battery gets a 22kW three-phase set-up for faster home charging. Nissan says the Ariya can use public chargers up to 130kW.
The interior is more akin to a sleek cafe lounge on a starship, evoking performance and intrigue...
It hasn't, however, revealed how long charging takes. In Europe, the Ariya uses the CCS charging type.
If the numbers and look-at-me styling don't help convince you that the Ariya is the EV you've been waiting for, then Nissan hopes that its interior will do the trick.
'Minimalist' would barely seem to do it justice. Nissan itself is clearly very pleased with the job it has done.
"The cabin of the Ariya has been designed in the most efficient and comfortable way," it says.
"The interior is more akin to a sleek cafe lounge on a starship, evoking performance and intrigue..."
I've never been on a starship, never mind the "cafe lounge" aboard one, but I think I like the sound of it. They've even called the seat design "zero gravity".
"The interior of the Ariya is a pleasant 'living space' for the driver and occupants to enjoy while experiencing the theatre of travelling to familiar and new destinations," says Nissan senior design director Giovanny Arroba.
Two-wheel-drive cars have a 466-litre boot, which drops to 408 litres on four-wheel-drive models. To put that in perspective, Nissan's popular Qashqai has a volume of 430 litres while the larger X-Trail has 565 litres. The Ariya will also be able to tow 1,500kg.
As we have come to expect of EVs, the Ariya is laden with safety and driver assistance aids. Nissan's ProPilot system is on board, which helps the car steer, accelerate and brake.
I'll leave the last word to Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta, who is naturally very excited about the Ariya and what it represents for the company.
"It’s more than just a great EV crossover, it's a great vehicle," he says.
"It’s a true force of wonder, and it's coming soon."