Make and model: Nissan Ariya 178kW Evolve, 87kWh battery
Description: Medium SUV, electric
Price range: £52,140 (plus options)
Nissan says: “The ultimate electric driving experience, ergonomically designed for comfort”
We say: There are more choices than ever for family EVs. But if you’re making the switch from petrol to electric, the Nissan Ariya is a great choice.
- What is it?
- Who is this car aimed at?
- Who won’t like it?
- First impressions
- What do you get for your money?
- What’s it like inside?
- What’s it like to drive?
- How safe is the Nissan Ariya?
- Charging up
- Similar cars
- Key specifications
- Buy a Nissan Ariya
- Lease a Nissan Ariya
- Subscribe to a Nissan Ariya
The Nissan Ariya is just one of many new electric family SUVs vying for your money and attention at the moment. We drove it at the European launch last summer and loved it, but we’ve now had a chance to spend a much longer time behind the wheel here in the UK. One year on, does it still impress?
After Nissan’s pioneering efforts with the Leaf more than a decade ago, you’d have expected the company to build on that success. But although a second-generation Leaf came along in 2017, it took until 2022 for Nissan to add a second electric car to its line-up (and we’re deliberately ignoring the fairly awful van-based e-NV200 people carrier).
Based on plenty of positive media reviews, the Ariya was awarded our Best Medium SUV in The Car Expert’s 2022 Car of the Year awards. It’s had a few trim tweaks since then, so we’ve had a longer UK review to really get under the skin and see what it’s like to live with.
What is it?
Last year, we said that the Nissan Ariya “looks and feels like a Nissan Qashqai from the future”, and that still holds. It’s broadly similar in size (roomier in the cabin) but it definitely feels a generation ahead of the Qashqai.
The Ariya line-up has expanded since it was launched last year, with a new entry-level model and a new top-end model. Customers now get a choice of four trim levels (Engage, Advance, Evolve and Evolve+) and three powertrains, which are:
- 160kW motor, 63kWh battery, front-wheel drive
- 178kW motor, 87kWh battery, front-wheel drive
- 225kW motor, 87kWh battery, all-wheel drive
- 290kW motor, 87kWh battery, all-wheel drive
The entry-level Engage model is only available as a front-wheel drive model, while the headline Evolve+ version is only available with the all-wheel-drive powertrain (called e-4orce).
The version we spent a week with was the Evolve spec, with the 87kWh battery and front-wheel-drive motor.
Who is this car aimed at?
If you’re looking for a plug-and-play family EV, you’ve come to the right place. For anyone looking at making a switch from petrol or diesel to electric power, this is a fantastic starting point.
Despite car company marketing efforts, the reality is that there is inevitably a learning curve that comes with switching to an EV – your mindset has to reset when it comes to refuelling vs. recharging and the way that affects how you use the car. So the last thing you want is added complexity of trying to fathom how the various functions of the car all work as well. The Ariya is dead easy to live with, which makes that jump much easier.
Who won’t like it?
There are cheaper alternatives – the MG 5 estate makes every other electric family car look expensive – and there are similarly priced EVs that give you more kit or more space for the money, like the Skoda Enyaq. There are also other EVs that give you better driving range, like the Tesla Model Y.
If price, space or 350-odd miles of range are top priorities for you, there are better options out there. The Ariya is pretty good in most areas, but doesn’t really excel in any one department.
Unlike most modern cars, which tend to be heavily and aggressive overstyled, the Nissan Ariya is a welcome contrast. Its exterior styling is clean and minimalist, without heavy-handed slashes or fake air vents everywhere.
However, the design does tend to look best in brighter metallic colours, especially with the contrasting black roof and mirrors. Our car was Blue Pearl, which looked fairly dull and dreary, especially paired with dark grey wheels. It looked nothing like the blue on the website, so best check out cars in the metal at your local Nissan dealer before making your choice.
The interior styling follows a similar theme, with a Scandi-style sleek and pared-back look. The upholstery was black leather, while the (fake) matt woodgrain looked refreshingly stylish and modern – not something you usually associate with woodgrain trims on cars.
The stand-out design elements in the cabin are two sets of touch controls embedded into the woodgrain trim, the climate control buttons on the dashboard and some additional buttons in the centre console. They’re no better than normal touchscreen controls, which means they’re not as good as physical buttons for using on the move, but they look cool.
We like: Sleek styling, both inside and out
We don’t like: Dull colours take the edge off the design
What do you get for your money?
Once we’ve got the first impressions out of the way, it’s time to look a bit harder at exactly what you’re getting for your money with the Nissan Ariya.
The line-up kicks off with the 160kW Engage with the smaller 63kW battery for just under £40K. According to official lab tests, this will give you a battery range of 250 miles, so you can expect 200+ miles in most real-world driving conditions. Advance trim is about £3.5K more at just over £43K on-road, and from there you can spend £4K more (just over £47K) for the Evolve version.
To go a bit quicker and further, the 178kW motor with the larger 87kW adds £5K to each of the above models. This gives an official battery range of 310 miles, which we found worked out to about 250-ish miles in real-world driving.
The previous top-spec power unit is a 225kW electric motor in all-wheel drive with the 87kW battery, This adds a bit less than £3K to Advance and Evolve models (not available for the base-spec Engage model). Finally, there’s a new flagship Evolve+ version that’s priced at £59K (a £4K premium over the Evolve). This one gets a hefty performance upgrade, with 290kW on tap, driving through all four wheels and powered by the 87kWh battery.
Our car was the second-to-top-level Evolve, which has pretty much all the mod-cons you could want in a family car and then some. You get a panoramic glass sunroof, adaptive high beam LED headlights, a Bose sound system, head-up display, adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assistance (which Nissan calls ProPilot), all the usual driver assistance safety systems and 360-degree parking cameras, ventilated front seats and heated (but not ventilated) rear seats, and memory for your seats/steering wheel/mirrors/infotainment settings and even the centre console, which is electrically adjustable (we’ll get back to that bit shortly).
We like: Good equipment levels. All the key safety kit is standard on all models.
We don’t like: Top-spec Evolve+ looks pricey at £60K compared to entry-level £40K model
What’s the Nissan Ariya like inside?
Having been impressed by the Ariya’s cabin at first glance, it’s time to explore things in more detail. The front half of the cabin is very spacious, with plenty of legroom all the way across the cabin. There’s no gearbox to get in the way, like in a petrol car, and Nissan has moved all of the heating and air-con systems under the bonnet where the petrol engine would normally live. That frees up a lot of space between the driver and front passenger, and certainly makes the car feel more spacious.
The centre console on the Evolve model can move forwards and backward by a few centimetres, and it’s electric so it’s linked to the memory function for the seats and mirrors. After trying a few different positions for the first few hours of driving, we ended up leaving it all the way back. The console itself is not that practical with very little storage space inside, which was disappointing.
To make up for this lack of storage, there’s an electrically-powered drawer in the centre of the dashboard, which also has a retractable plastic lid to turn it into a very small table. While the extra storage space is welcome, it absolutely didn’t need to be a powered unit and would be perfectly fine as a manually-operated drawer…
Other than, the Ariya’s cabin is a genuinely lovely place. Helped by the Evolve’s panoramic sunroof, it’s light and spacious so it has more of a lounge-like feel than than the dark, cave-like space of many cars.
The minimalist dashboard is dominated by two 12-inch screens laid out side-by-side across the top of the dash. One screen is directly in front of the driver and contains all of the usual instrument information like speed, battery level, distance to empty and any warning lights or messages. Alongside sits the second screen, which has all of your music, satnav guidance and other information.
There’s also a very useful head-up display where key information is projected directly onto the screen in front of the driver. However, as with a lot of head-up displays, it’s very difficult to read if you’re wearing polarised sunglasses.
There’s (wireless) Apple CarPlay and (wired) Android Auto, and the Evolve spec also comes with a ten-speaker Bose-branded sound system. The stereo was disappointing compared to brand-name stereos (which aren’t usually built by the brand name indicated, but rather a specialist car stereo provider) in other cars, which is something we’ve noticed on Bose systems in different Nissan models over the last few years.
The front seats are comfortable for short trips, but lack support on longer journeys. We took the Ariya on a 1,000-mile road trip from southern England up to Scotland and back for a family holiday, and my back didn’t enjoy day-long stints behind the wheel.
Back-seat room is decent for your rear passengers. Like the front, the floor is nice and flat as there’s no exhaust system or driveshaft like you’d get on a petrol car, so all three rear seat occupants get adequate room for their legs and feet. Headroom is also pretty good.
The boot is reasonable without for everyday use, although not so great when you want to load up for a week-long road trip. The raked rear windscreen compromises ultimate load space if you’re trying to fit three or four suitcases. On the positive side, there’s a large additional space under the boot floor on the two-wheel-drive models, which can take quite a bit of stuff that you want to either keep hidden from prying eyes or protected from everything else in the boot.
We like: Good cabin space front and rear, lovely cabin ambience
We don’t like: Boot space on the small side, Bose stereo disappointing
What’s the Nissan Ariya like to drive?
Overall, the Ariya driving experience is everything you would want and expect from a family EV. Like any electric car, it’s very smooth and refined due to a lack of the noise and vibration that come with any petrol or diesel car. It’s also commendably quiet as motorway speeds, with the tyres producing much less noise than on other Nissan models like the Qashqai and X-Trail.
The 19-inch wheels that come on most Ariya models provide a reasonably good balance between style and comfort. Large potholes will bounce you around, but mostly it was a smooth ride on every surface.
Our car had the mid-spec 178kW motor in front-wheel drive, which provided plenty of performance even when loaded up. The 225kW engine next up in the range would probably be preferable, but not really necessary for a family car.
Like most electric cars, you can adjust the amount of regeneration provided. If you’re new to EVs, regeneration occurs whenever you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal to coast. The car converts some of the kinetic energy (the wheels turning) into electricical energy, giving you a small boost of charge to your battery.
Given that we were on a 1,000-mile road trip, there was plenty of time to play with the regeneration settings and work out what was most comfortable. By default, the Ariya will coast much like a petrol car when you lift off. However, you can increase this regeneration by tapping the drive controller (the thing that replicates a gear level in a fossil-fuel car) into a regen mode, which means the car will slow down more quickly when you lift off the accelerator and send more electricity back to the battery. In most driving circumstances, this proved to be a good balance although on motorways I would often shift back into normal mode.
On top of that, Nissan has a function called e-Pedal for maximum regeneration, which feels like the car is applying the brakes every time you lift off the accelerator. That means you can mostly drive the Ariya without using the brake pedal until you are almost stopped, and even more electricity is sent back to the battery every time you slow down.
In practice, it was too aggressive for our liking and we eventually gave up on it. I’ve found the same in Nissan’s e-Power hybrid motors on the Qashqai and X-Trail, and other manufacturers seem to have the one-pedal driving mode better sorted.
We like: Beautifully quiet, smooth and refined
We don’t like: e-Pedal set-up is very jerky
How safe is the Nissan Ariya?
The Nissan Ariya is a very safe car. It was tested by Euro NCAP in November 2022 and awarded a five-star safety rating, with excellent scores across the board. These scores cover adult protection, child production, vulnerable road user protection (basically minimising damage to pedestrians and cyclists in an accident) and, probably most importantly, the tech that helps you avoid an accident in the first place.
Particularly pleasing is that all of the crucial safety tech is standard on all Ariya models, rather than costing extra on top of the car. Some of the more advanced tech (semi-autonomous driving assistance, for example) is optional, but the core stuff that makes up the five-star safety score is all standard.
For our scoring purposes, the Ariya gets 10/10 for safety.
Charging the Nissan Ariya
If you’re charging the 87kWh Ariya from a wallbox at home, Nissan advises that it will take about 13 hours to charge the battery from 10% to full. So even if you are driving a couple of hundred miles every day, you can still comfortably charge overnight and be good to go again next day. In reality, the average household does about 100 miles a week, so its not a problem.
If you have access to 22kW charging (most homes don’t, but a lot of office and on-street chargers do), this drops to five hours – so you could get a full charge during a day’s work, for example.
If you’re out and about and charging from a public charging station, the Ariya can take up to 130kW of rapid charging, which can get you from 20% to 80% of battery charge (equivalent to about 200 miles of charge) in half an hour. That’s not bad, although some rivals are able to charge even faster.
So long journeys are certainly manageable with a little planning – and this will only get better over time as more rapid charging points are installed all over the country.
The Ariya comes with two cables; a Type 2 cable for wallbox or public charging, and a Type 3 cable for connecting the car to a regular three-pin plug (although that would take more than a day to charge the battery). Both cables are about 5m long, which is about average. The charging point is on the left-hand side of the car, just behind the front wheel, which is convenient for most charging point layouts.
A year ago, we said that the Nissan Ariya is a ‘fine family car’. Today, we’re even more convinced of that. Everything works pretty much exactly as you’d expect and you get all the creature comforts you’d want for the money.
The 87kWh battery will cover you for almost all of your driving needs, meaning you’re not constantly worried about running low on electricity, and performance on the single-motor version is fine for most people. If you want a bit more power and the reassurance of all-wheel drive in winter weather, you might prefer to pay an extra £3K for the e-4orce version instead.
Like most EVs, the Ariya is not cheap – our test car hits the road at almost exactly £54K. But at least you get a good level of equipment and the cabin certainly compares favourably to plenty of petrol cars for the same money.
Despite recent price cuts and a new entry-level model, the Ariya still looks expensive compared to rivals like the Kia EV6 or Hyundai Ioniq 5, although it’s closer than it was before. However, the Nissan is better looking than either of them and the cabin is a nicer place in which to spend a lot of time.
There are more choices than ever for an electric family car, and that number is increasing almost every week. But you’re making the switch from a petrol or diesel car to an EV, the Nissan Ariya would be a great place to start.
Audi Q4 e-tron | BMW iX3 | Ford Mustang Mach-E | Genesis Electrified GV70 | Hyundai Ioniq 5 | Jaguar I-Pace | Kia EV6 | Mercedes-Benz EQC | Omoda 5 EV | Polestar 3 | Skoda Enyaq | Subaru Solterra | Tesla Model Y | Toyota bZ4X | Volkswagen ID.4 | Volkswagen ID.5 | Volvo C40
Model tested: Nissan Ariya Evolve
Price (as tested): £54,085
Motor unit: 178kW single electric motor
Gearbox: Single-speed automatic
Power: 178kW (240hp)
Torque: 300 Nm
Buy a Nissan Ariya
If you’re looking to buy a new or used Nissan Ariya, The Car Expert’s partners can help you find the right car
Find your next used car with Motors.co.uk. Find out more
Find your next used car with Cazoo. Find out more
Discover great deals available on both new and used cars. Find out more
Search for your next new or used car with Auto Trader. Find out more
Lease a Nissan Ariya
If you’re looking to lease a new Nissan Ariya, The Car Expert’s partners can help you find a competitive deal
Personal contract hire deals from Carparison Leasing. Find out more
Personal contract hire deals from Moneyshake. Find out more
Personal contract hire deals from Rivervale Leasing. Find out more
Personal contract hire deals from LeaseLoco. Find out more
Subscribe to a Nissan Ariya
Subscriptions are becoming a very popular way for consumers to try an electric car for a few weeks or months to help decide whether it’s a suitable alternative to a petrol car. If you’re interested in a car subscription, The Car Expert’s partners can help. (PS: What’s a car subscription?)
Electric car subscriptions from Elmo.
Find out more
Electric car subscriptions from Onto.
Find out more