The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. That’s the situation that Nissan has found itself in lately — holding the worm of having had the first truly popular electric car on sale (the Leaf) but missing out on the cheese of the fast-expanding electric car market because it lacked a follow-up model.
Well, that all changes now, with the arrival (in a few weeks, at any rate) of the new Ariya. It’s a family-sized SUV powered solely by batteries, and it’ll go on sale with a starting price of €48,995. That’s a chunky price tag, higher than what Toyota will ask for its new bz4X electric SUV (and that car will have a longer battery range) and close indeed to what Kia and Hyundai ask for their big-battery EV6 and Ioniq 5.
Does the new Nissan deserve such a lofty price tag? Well, Nissan wants us to believe that this is a premium product, and there is some merit in that belief.
It’s certainly classier by far than the affordable Leaf, inside and out, and if you go for the high-spec Evolve model that we’ve been testing, you get a truly gorgeous interior, made of very high-quality materials.
The only cabin let-downs are slightly cheap-looking digital instruments (shared with the more affordable, petrol-powered Qashqai), and fiddly touch-sensitive controls.
Will you get range anxiety? Well, the Ariya gets a choice of base 63kWh battery (with a range of around 400km, but that’s not an officially confirmed figure yet, it might go up a bit) and a pricier 87kWh version that can go for more than 530km (again, TBC…).
Performance, for the 63kWh version, comes from a single 217hp electric motor driving the front wheels, and on our brief test drive (confined to the Mondello Park racetrack as we were — Nissan didn’t trust us to take its one and only Irish Ariya out on public roads just yet) it felt sufficiently brisk. It also felt a little sportier than we expected, with surprisingly sharp steering and a keen-ness for corners that the Leaf hatchback rather lacks. It’s also impressively quiet and refined inside, even by electric car standards.
Nissan Ireland probably doesn’t have to worry about that price tag, nor premium aspirations, for the moment as pretty much every Ariya coming into the country for the moment will have a name next to it — supply, as is depressingly the case for all car brands right now, will be tight for a while yet.
As a follow-up to the Leaf, that Ariya seems vastly classier, and more upmarket, but whether the Nissan badge can hold up such a chunky price tag remains to be seen.
How much? Starts at €48,995. Most expensive one is €66,995.
How far? 400km on the basic battery, 530km if you go for the bigger one.
What do you get? Two digital screens, one-pedal driving, active cruise control, lane-keeping steering, heads-up display
How big? 468-litre boot, lots of rear legroom but rear headroom a touch tight
Plus: Looks smart, gorgeous cabin, decent range, refinement
Minus: Pricey, boot a touch small, hard to get hold of for now
Equals: An impressive second mouse