Long-awaited EV stablemate to the Leaf is finally here, and the wait was worth it.


The all-electric Nissan Ariya is expected to go on sale in Canada in late-2021. Nissan Canada

Was it worth the wait? That's the big question surrounding the Nissan Ariya, the Japanese automaker's all-electric crossover that was launched today during a virtual event at the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama.

Along with Tesla Motors, Nissan has been at the forefront of the global, decade-long EV charge with its affordable Leaf model, which as of this writing is closing in on the half-a-million sold mark. For fans of that model, and the automaker itself, it's been a long wait for the next Nissan EV.

Nissan's first all-electric CUV has arrived and while it will still be some months before we get the opportunity to drive the Ariya, the specs that were released today, along with a few dozen exterior and interior images, are very encouraging indeed.

Here's what we do know:

The Ariya will be available in either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configurations and will come with two battery choices: a standard 65 kWh with an output of 160 kW (215 horsepower), torque of 221 lbs.-ft and a full-charge range of 321 kilometres; and a long-range 90 kWh pack with an output of 290 kW (389 hp), torque of 443 lbs.-ft and a range of 482 km (ranges are preliminary Nissan estimates). Each battery pack is available in either the two-wheel or four-wheel models.

A centrepiece of the Ariya's drivetrain technology is that all-wheel-drive system, dubbed e-4ORCE. As with the Leaf's revolutionary e-Pedal system, which introduced the concept of one-pedal driving, this twin electric motor represents a big leap forward for AWD EVs. It is, according to Nissan press notes, "the progeny of the Nissan GT-R's ATTESA E-TS torque split system."

The system is designed to apply independent brake control at each of the four wheels to maximize the cornering force generated by each one, in addition to optimizing front and rear torque allocation. All this promises to provide a very direct steering input feel, all the while managing power output and braking performance. And, regenerative torque is distributed to all four wheels.

In addition to having e-Pedal, the Ariya also comes equipped with the latest iteration of Nissan's advanced driver assistance technology, ProPILOT Assist 2.0. This form of driving assistance, working with a full suite of active safety features, allows for some hands-off driving and hints at that autonomous future we keep being told is coming soon.

There are no such subtle hints to that future when it comes to the Ariya's cabin, described in press notes as a 'lounge' and embracing a design philosophy that Nissan refers to as 'Timeless Japanese Futurism.' Looking at the images of the interior, particularly the thin seats and spacious legroom front and rear, the Ariya appears to be the first production vehicle to incorporate the autonomous cockpit we have seen in concept vehicles of the past half-decade.

The Ariya's all-new EV platform -- called the Alliance CMF-EV -- allows for a flat and open floor, and designers took full advantage, even moving all the climate control components that are typically located by the front occupants' feet to the empty space in the crossover's front hood.

To enhance that sense of minimalism, the Ariya's instrument panels are devoid of buttons and switches. Instead, capacitive haptic switches allow for the same mechanical feel by vibrating when touched. And the two horizontal display screens running across three-quarters of the dashboard complete that futuristic, yet very functional, feel. Another nod to our possible autonomous future is a centre storage box and foldout tray that provides room for a laptop, or a meal.

The adjustable centre console can be moved to suit the driving conditions -- from 'I'm in full control' mode to 'stop-and-go one-pedal' mode - and features a small, fit-in-your-palm shifter and haptic drive mode controls.

Which brings us to the exterior, which isn't that too far removed from crossover design in 2020, but still with enough interesting nuances to tell you something is different about this vehicle. Most notable is the front grille featuring a shield that incorporates a 3D traditional Japanese kumiko pattern. It's not just for show though, as it provides a stylish cover for sensors used for driver assistance functions. Thin LED headlamps feature four 20mm mini-projectors and are arranged in Nissan's V-motion design language, albeit a new, EV-inspired one. Likewise, the rear of the Ariya gets some special treatment, including a one-piece light blade that gives a blackout effect when in park and a consistent red illumination when in use, day or night.

Ariya is offered with six two-tone exterior paint combinations, each sporting a black roof, and three full-body colours.

Pricing has yet to be released, and it's expected to go on sale in Canada in the latter part of 2021.

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