Why we can’t afford a beautiful new SUV

One of the most exciting new cars to be unveiled this year could be a huge seller in Australia, but there’s one thing it needs.

There’s a lot we don’t know about Nissan’s all-new EV. Whether it will come to Australia, for example. What it costs if it does that, for someone else. Even how to say the name, Ariya.

Some Nissan folks at the vehicle’s European launch claimed that “Are-ee-ya” is correct. Others said “Aria”, like a song from an opera.

Pronounce it however you like, but the Ariya remains an EV crossover that combines up-to-date technology with a Japanese design aroma.

It is about to go on sale abroad, with the US, China, Japan and Europe first in line. But Australia is not yet on the list of destinations for the Made-in-Japan EV. Government policies, especially at the national level, will play a role in Nissan’s decision-making.

“The new government’s early dialogue is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Adam Paterson, director of Nissan Australia, referring to the new federal government headed by Anthony Albanese.

“However, we still need a nationally consistent plan that focuses on increasing the use of EV as a first priority. We would like to see a clear step-by-step plan and plan.”

It takes more than five years to get a new car production-ready, Paterson says. That makes it difficult for an automaker to plan “the required production volumes and development requirements for a market like Australia” without knowing what’s coming up.

Even with strong signals from Canberra, the Ariya will hit Australian showrooms sometime in 2023 at the earliest. Prices? Probably about $70,000 for the most affordable version under current circumstances, but future changes could push it lower.

The cheapest Ariya is the one sampled at the international launch in Sweden.

Equipped with a single 160 kW electric motor driving the front wheels and a 63 kWh battery pack, it has a driving range of 403 km according to the WLTP test standard.

Other versions have a larger battery pack of 87 kWh. The one with a single 178 kW electric motor is the range champion. It can travel 533 km before it needs to be recharged.

At the top of the Ariya range is a powerful 225 kW dual engine model with four wheel drive. Its official range is exactly 500 km and it can tow up to 1500 kg.

The Ariya is built on the latest EV platform from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It brings advancements compared to the technology that powers the current Nissan Leaf.

The new Nissan has a slimmer, liquid-cooled battery pack under its flat floor. It can also be charged quickly. The engine design also changes. The new electrically excited units in the Ariya do not contain permanent magnets made from polluting rare earth elements.

When it comes to design, the Japanese influence is evident. While Ariya’s exterior style probably won’t appeal to everyone, it’s hard not to love the interior. It is spacious, beautifully designed and has some unusual features that are sure to please.

The freestanding center console, which houses the gear knob, some switches, an inductive phone charger and a storage compartment, can be moved forwards and backwards with a switch next to the driver’s thigh. With the console all the way back, the full-width flat floor of the interior and the slimness of the instrument panel are apparent.

Apart from large screens for the instrument display and the infotainment system, the panel is remarkably simple. Climate switches with haptic feedback are hidden under the grainy accent strip on the instrument panel.

The interior feels and is very spacious front and rear. The luggage space is also large.

Driving the least powerful Ariya is not disappointing. There’s a typical EV eagerness that pulls away from a standstill, followed by a wave of silky smooth and almost silent acceleration. It is faster and much more developed than the average small crossover or SUV.

The Ariya-tested European spec suspension was firm but not uncomfortable. The Nissan corners well for a large, heavy vehicle, although its light and mostly numb steering discourages fast driving.

It’s cruising at its best when everyone on board can appreciate the silence, space and distinctively Japanese atmosphere of this new Nissan.

With new pro-EV policies likely to come from the Albanian government and interest

in electric driving, there is a good chance that the Nissan will eventually go to Australia.

But there is little chance that everyone will agree to pronounce Ariya in the same way.

NISSAN ARIYA

PRICE $70,000 (estimated)

ENGINE Only; 160kW/300Nm

TRANSFER single speed; FWD

RANGE 403km

EFFICIENCY 15.6-17.4 kWh/100 km

0-100KM/H 7.5 seconds

#afford #beautiful #SUV

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