Nissan Ariya Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Let's start in the cheapest powertrain – small battery, front-driven. It means acceleration that's less in absolute terms than say a 2.0-litre non-sporty petrol crossover, but the point is as with any EV it's always there for you. No waiting for turbo-boost or down-shift. So it's adequate unless you're being ambitious up hills.

The 306bhp one has more of a spring in its step. It's not going to squeeze the breath from your lungs, but there's significant out-of-corner power and strong A-road overtaking potential.

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The brake pedal is nice and progressive, the regeneration and friction blending seamlessly. You can also switch to e-pedal drive, Nissan's system where lifting off the accelerator will bring in the friction if there's not enough regen. It's relaxing in town driving, as you don't have to shuffle your foot.

That means better range, right?

Nope. As with any other EV, neither max regeneration nor e-pedal will give you any more miles to play with: they're just different ways of accessing the same retardation. Even in coasting mode, pressing the brake pedal starts by giving regen, and then when that's used up it brings the pads onto the discs.

The steering is progressively weighted in the normal drive mode, and accurate. Sports mode has an inconsistent weighting. Neither has any feel for the tyre grip, but that's par for this kind of car.

Still, there's good dry-road traction even in the FWD version and it resists understeer unless you heave it into a tight bend, where you suddenly feel the Ariya's mass. In faster corners it's got quite a nice neutral feel. On a motorway it sits stable and true.

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The 4WD one is neutral under power, and is more involving to carve through medium-speed corners than most rivals. You can feel each tyre doing its work, as it uses the torque vectoring to quell understeer. Besides, its steering and brakes have less rubbery slack than the class norm.

The bigger-battery one can tow a 1,500kg braked trailer, which is unusual for an EV. Can't imagine what that does to your range, mind.

Noted. Is it comfy?

The ride is quite like Qashqai's: fairly taut, with a bit of high-frequency spring. It copes well with most undulations, and the tyres are normally quiet. But it doesn't like sharp ridges or potholes.

Nissan pioneered level 2 driver assist with the Propilot system, and it's fitted as standard. Works well, keeping the car in lane and following the vehicle in front. New tweaks include capacitive sensors in the steering wheel so it knows your hands are on – no need to give a little "I'm here" twitch every 15 seconds or so.

That’s a relief.

Indeed. Also the steering assistance is calibrated more naturally: if you're in the middle lane overtaking a truck, it will move slightly to the right to keep further away from the truck. The car will slow down when the navigation knows a sharper curve is coming up.

Talking of long journeys the DC intake is a reasonably brisk 130kW, well able to take advantage of 150kW chargers.

The base car charges at 7kW on home AC or public points, which means flat to full overnight. But you'd never go quite flat. With the bigger battery that will take 13 hours. And anyway the big battery also comes with a 22kW on-board charger, cutting it to about four hours on a public three-phase AC socket, increasingly common in car parks.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Nissan Ariya 290kW Performance 87kWh 22kWCh 5dr e-4ORCE Auto
  • 0-625.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP394
  • MPG
  • Price£N/A

the cheapest

Nissan Ariya 160kW Advance 63kWh 5dr Auto
  • 0-627.5s
  • CO2
  • BHP217
  • MPG
  • Price£46,090
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