Pure electric crossover unveiled

LAST OCTOBER, I joined the Nissan press contingent in attending the 46th Tokyo Motor Show (2019 TMS) held at the Tokyo Big Sight in Japan. It was there that Nissan unveiled its Ariya electric crossover and IMk urban commuter concept cars, which are both icons of Nissan’s latest design direction called “Timeless Japanese Futurism.”

The latter is Nissan’s new design language that combines the company’s 100% EV platform with traditional Japanese minimalist themes. And I particularly remember something that their charismatic Senior Vice-President for Global Design Alfonso Albaisa said during the TMS presentation. He emphasized how these concepts were extra special because “these are concepts which we will soon be able to drive.”

True enough, less than a year later, Nissan held the Ariya’s world premiere as a real production car via a virtual event hosted last July 15 at the soon-to-open Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan. This makes the Ariya production model Nissan’s first-ever, all-electric crossover SUV. As you can imagine, it is heavily based on its concept car counterpart — and thus represents Nissan’s new, electrified brand identity.

The Ariya paints a clear story of Nissan’s latest design language — it is a lot about Japanese “Ma” or the mastery of the empty space. You see, the Japanese have a kind of minimalism that is much, much different from that of Europeans. I remember Alfonso explaining that European minimalism is about the subtraction of unnecessary elements, while Japanese minimalism is about, to begin with, the addition of simple elements.

Nissan also took this launch opportunity to introduce its redesigned brand logo — now representative of its renewed passion and dedication towards becoming a leader in automobile innovations. This redesigned emblem can now be found at the center of the Ariya’s aerodynamic shield.

“The Ariya’s exterior proportions show what’s possible with Nissan’s 100% electric-vehicle platform,” remarked Senior Design Director Giovanny Arroba. “The surprisingly short overhangs, aggressive roofline and large wheels provide an elegant appearance that flawlessly balances sport and luxury,” he said.

The Ariya offers the most spacious cabin in its class… with a flat, open-floor and slim-profile Zero Gravity seats, that result in enormous legroom. It is almost as if it is no longer simply a car cabin, but rather a pleasant living space for the driver and passengers to enjoy.

It comes in 4 variants, namely: the 2WD variant with 63kWh of usable battery capacity; the 2WD with a larger battery capacity of 87kWh; the e-4orce AWD with 63kWh battery capacity and twin electric motors with e-4orce control technology; and the e-4orce AWD with the same twin electric motors with e-4orce control technology, but with a larger-capacity battery of 87kWh. This last and most sophisticated variant features the highest level of Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies available — and includes Nissan’ ProPilot 2.0, which can also be found in the latest Nissan Leaf.

“The Ariya’s Intelligent Power is one of the pillars that define Nissan’s DNA,” explained Ariya Development Chief Product Specialist Makoto Fukuda. “The Ariya is fast in a straight line, but it provides maximum, usable performance in a wide range of driving conditions, such as on a snowy mountain road or on wet city streets,” he said.

The Ariya’s battery pack sits under the center of the vehicle to promote a low center of gravity and near-equal weight distribution between the front and rear. It basically has three drive modes, namely: Standard, Sport, and Eco. The e-4orce variants incorporate an additional “Snow” mode.

Moreover, this electric crossover makes use of Nissan’s largely popular e-Pedal technology, which allows a driver to launch, accelerate, and decelerate using only the accelerator pedal! It was first introduced in the Nissan Leaf, which I also had the opportunity to drive a while back. I would liken the e-Pedal feeling to driving “bump cars” in theme parks — where you’d have to keep your foot pressing on the accelerator to keep it moving, and will only need to let go of the pedal to bring the car to a stop.

The Ariya is also an ambassador of Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0 driver assistance technology, which includes a suite of safety features and even an impressive level of autonomous driving (for controlled environments). It even incorporates its own Amazon Alexa, which like the Alexa we know, can help its owners play music, place calls, listen to audiobooks, control smart home devices, and more — except now it is from the comfortable mobility of your car.

“The Nissan Ariya opens a new chapter in our history as we begin our journey of transformation in our business, in our products, and in our culture,” exclaimed Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. Furthering that “It defines what matters to Nissan, represents what we stand for, and embodies the essence of who we are: a passionate, innovative challenger.”