Marking a key milestone in Nissan’s transformation strategy, Ariya ticks a lot of boxes highlighting the strengths of the global automotive giant
A couple of months ago, Nissan announced its four-year plans outlining various transformation strategies aimed at paving the way for a sustainable and profitable future. The plans lined up by the company factored in the recent COVID-19 disruptions affecting its global operations. Makoto Uchida, Chief Executive Officer, Nissan, mentioned some radical changes that involved streamlining unprofitable facilities and reorganising global product line-ups.
The Nissan Ariya all-electric coupe is the first global platform that will mark the evolution of the brand multiplying its strengths and diminishing weaknesses. Boasting of a lounge like interior, extensive autonomous features, cutting edge electric all-wheel-drive system and intelligent connected integration, Ariya opens a new chapter for Nissan. In fact, Ariya will form a pivotal role towards Nissan’s goal of “a future with zero emissions and zero vehicle fatalities”.
RADICAL NEW DESIGN LANGUAGE
Ariya’s design is taking a completely new direction going by Nissan standards. The all-electric platform enabled designers to open up new avenues as opposed to restrictions provided by ICE- powered vehicles. The entire appeal reflects a quintessential Japanese approach of sleek and futuristic lines with a powerful fascia. The new philosophy embraces Japanese iki (aesthetics) in tune with new all-electric platform advantages for design. For example, the front grille utilises a traditional kumiko pattern enhancing the seamless design, but also protects the sensing equipment for ProPILOT functions and key detection sensor, blending both aspects smoothly.
The sharp sides with a sleek roofline highlight Ariya’s sporty and athletic character, which is further complemented by the steeply racked C-pillar and high-mounted rear wing. Giovanny Arroba, the Senior Design Director for the Ariya, explained how exterior proportions showcase the possibilities of a 100 % electric platform. The shorter overhangs, aggressive roofline and large wheels balance sport and luxury, while adding aerodynamic efficiency to the whole platform, he noted. And since the new GT-R (R36 possibly) is expected to follow the theory, we expect a similar design language to be visible on the much-awaited sports car.
The interior of the Ariya is radical too, with non-traditional design features dominating all across. With comfort and efficiency being of utmost importance, it reflects a lounge kind of feeling. Here again, the all-new EV platform enables more space inside the cabin allowing designers to utilise the complete length of the available cabin room. Since the powertrain components are compact, the climate control system has been moved under the bonnet freeing up more space inside. The non-intrusion of the transmission tunnel and the cabin systems tucked under the instrument panel further allow a neater dashboard design.
Engineers have used slim profile Zero Gravity seats, which offer more legroom to all occupants. Design minimalism has been taken to the next level as the dashboard in the Ariya is devoid of any buttons or switches as normal cars do have. Engineers instead have integrated these functions into the wooden centre dashboard as capacitive haptic buttons. These buttons vibrate when touched to confirm a user’s input. The materials used in the interior have been selected to differ from those of luxury vehicles, and exude more technology and utility than pure luxury.
ALL-ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN WITH e-4ORCE AWD
Ariya will be offered with 63 kWh (usable) and 87 kWh (usable) battery capacities in both two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive set-ups. As far as specs are concerned, 63 kwh 2WD has a range of 450 km and the 87 kWh 2WD can run for 610 km. Both 2WD models develop 300 Nm torque, accelerate from 0-100 km/h in around 7.5 s and have a top speed of 160 km/h. The 63 kWh AWD returns a range of 430 km, develops 560 Nm torque, has a top speed of 200 km/h and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 s. The most powerful 87 kWh AWD model can run 580 km on a full charge, develops 600 Nm torque and can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 s. The two-wheel-drive models will cater to urban commuters, who may choose a bigger battery capacity for longer journeys.
On the other hand, the e-4FORCE all-wheel-drive models sacrifice some range for performance and autonomous driving capabilities. The combination of twin-electric motors and e-4FORCE system offers tremendous performance capabilities rivalling premium sports cars. We know this is highly likely as the e-4FORCE is a development of Nissan GT-R’s ATTESA E-TS torque split system and Patrol’s intelligent 4X4 system. It manages the power output from the motors and braking performance for more traction and stability on a variety of road surfaces. The system has been fine-tuned by addition of regenerative rear-motor braking (against front wheels as used in conventional EVs and hybrids), which further minimises vehicle pitch and dive to offer more comfort to occupants. Ariya also boasts of higher driving range in the segment with efficient use of battery thermal control and 130 kW peak charging. A 30-min quick charge from a CHAdeMO charging system can return 375 km range.
DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECH
Perhaps one of the most important developments and technological advancements on the Ariya will be the latest Nissan ProPILOT 2.0 advanced driver assistance and ProPILOT remote park systems. Already a successful set-up on the Leaf EV, the 2.0 version is further expanded to support multi-lane highway driving tasks like lane changing, passing and highway exiting. The full bells and whistles model with the 87 kWh battery and e-4FORCE hardware will get the highest level of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, along with ProPILOT 2.0. An array of seven cameras, five millimetre-wave radars and 12 ultrasonic sonar sensors are able to detect objects and lane markers to offer hands-off single lane driving along predefined routes and lane changes with a button-push confirmation.
The ProPILOT park feature helps the driver by recognising a parking spot and guiding the vehicle towards it. Further, Ariya will be offered with ProPILOT Remote Park in Japan with remote guidance via a dedicated intelligent key. The key can be used to remotely guide the vehicle into a parking spot when standing within six metres. Other features include forward collision warning, around view monitor, rear automatic emergency braking and a lot of connected car convenience features for entertainment and security.
Nissan Ariya is the most evident sign that the brand’s transformation strategy will revolve around sustainability and technological evolution of driver assistance systems, while preserving driving pleasure. The futuristic inclination of the new design language is wholeheartedly welcome as it combines clever space utilisation and radical materials with maximum comfort. The announced price of ¥ 5mn is slightly on the higher side, but EV-centric incentives might be able to support buyers. Considering the recent market scenario and Nissan’s new strategy transformation, Ariya could be a golden ticket towards clocking sales across key markets.
TEXT: Abhijeet Singh