(Sonoma, Calif.) Compared to Nissan’s original plan, the Ariya’s launch is actually two years late. Was the wait worth it?

Ariya’s delay is no excuse, but it’s nothing dramatic either. Its main competitors remain for the most part distributed in dribs and drabs. A unique opportunity to make up for lost time, if Nissan knows how to run a little.

There is no point running. After having surprised everyone with the Leaf (more than 600,000 units sold), the Japanese manufacturer then found itself in tow of its competitors who are constantly multiplying launches. It is an understatement to say that the Ariya was expected.

Good news, the Ariya makes the most of the structural advantages specific to an electric vehicle. Starting with the admirable size/livability ratio it provides. A feat made possible by the reduced size of the engine and the installation of the accumulators under the floor. Two particularities – there are others – which contribute to releasing an interior volume superior to that of a model with comparable dimensions. And to maximize this feeling of well-being, light invades the cabin here through a large windscreen and vast glass surfaces.

Nissan has gone to great lengths to design a cabin where it is good to be. To do this, the brand is inspired by certain ancestral Japanese traditions, such as paper lanterns (Andon) or carved wood (Kumiko), to clearly stand out from the competition. Admittedly, this cabin lacks neither elegance nor originality. Which, by the way, plunges us into an abyss of perplexity. With such know-how in its fold, how will Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury subsidiary, go about making us dream of the day it brings to life its first electric vehicle?

Beyond the Japanese zenitude that the Ariya seeks to recreate, we retain the rigor of the dockings and the modernism of certain flush controls that line part of the interior furniture, including the console. The latter, incidentally, has the particularity of moving over 150 millimeters. The concept makes you smile, but in reality, this mobility does not really add anything. In addition, this breastplate adds to the complexity of the vehicle. On the other hand, the drawer arranged in the center of the dashboard seems like a much better idea. This was made possible by notably transferring all the air conditioner hardware under the hood. In doing so, the Ariya is deprived of a famous box (the frunk, as English speakers say) often acclaimed by lovers of wattures.

Getting in and out is no problem, but it would probably have been wise to sculpt the front seats more – very comfortable – to provide more lateral support. The rear seats provide enough clearance for two people. As for the utility volume, it is in the good average (see “Competition”), nothing more. However, we will find fault with the classic modularity of the trunk, the false bottom of which is mainly used to store the charging cables.

The Ariya offers the choice of two batteries (65 kWh or 90 kWh) and two drive modes (two or four-wheel drive). Depending on the configuration chosen, it claims a range varying from 330 km to 490 km. On this subject, and unlike many of its competitors (Ford, Ioniq, Kia, Tesla, Volkswagen), the Ariya drives, at entry level, its front wheels and not the rear ones. This will be seen as a benefit by many consumers worried about being in the driver’s seat during the cold season.

These make it possible to reach 100 km/h after a standing start more quickly (2.5 s) than if there is only one thruster.

What’s the point of rushing? The Ariya negotiates the turns that take shape in front of him with little enthusiasm. Should we blame him? No. This Nissan favors a peaceful ride that highlights the quietness of operation and the smoothness of its steering. The suspension, for its part, is sensitive to the quality of the coating. Sufficiently flexible on a smooth surface, it nevertheless struggles with firmness when the moment comes to polish all the roughness.

In terms of braking, the Ariya shows a nice balance, but some will criticize it for not allowing the use of a single pedal. Indeed, by activating the “e-pedal” device, it slows down the vehicle, but does not allow it to be completely immobilized. No paddle on the steering wheel agrees to vary the intensity of the engine brake which acts here on the four wheels so as not to disturb the attitude of the vehicle. On the other hand, there is a Sport mode, but this one is so unconvincing, so artificial, that it is not worth dwelling on.

Despite its mass, this Nissan turns out to be manageable, vigorous and above all very predictable to drive. The increased power provided by its two electric motors is mainly felt in terms of pick-up and not acceleration. In this context, the e-4orce all-wheel drive provides increased stability, an additional safety net in terms of active safety and the perfect antidote to mask the propensity to understeer of this vehicle. Essestial ? No way. And, even more so, if you want to prioritize autonomy and energy efficiency.

So, was the wait worth it? Yes, if you opt for the towed version. It clearly has several advantages (more competitive price, range) compared to its all-wheel-drive counterpart. The latter is too expensive and only one of its variations is eligible for government rebates. In addition, it does not do justice, on a technical level (capacity and speed of recharging), to Nissan, which was nevertheless at the origin of this movement towards all-electric.

From $52,998 to $69,998

Platinum e-4orce ($69,998)

Yes, but certain models only

A delay that promises to be difficult to fill

La Presse will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Ford Mustang, GMC Canyon, Ioniq 6, Porsche Cayenne and Toyota GR Corolla. If you own one of these vehicles or are waiting for delivery, we would love to hear from you.

“People have to get this image of the car associated with a gas pump out of their heads,” said Carlos Ghosn when the Leaf was introduced more than 10 years ago. For a time, the Leaf was the best-selling electric vehicle in the world (2011-2012-2013-2014-2016). A title it first lost in 2015 to Tesla’s Model S. Today, the Model 3 is the most popular electric vehicle on the planet.

The Ariya is the first in a series of electric vehicles promised by Nissan. By 2030, the Japanese automaker will have 27 electrified vehicles, 19 of which will be fully electric. Once this rollout is complete, Nissan estimates that 55% of its lineup will be electrified in some way.