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Nissan launches “sexy” all-electric concept SUV that signals re-invention of brand design

By Paul Connolly

Nissan has unveiled a powerful all-electric SUV concept with twin electric motors and a completely flat floor.

The Nissan Ariya compact SUV also features a hi-tech cabin with vanishing heater controls, thin-framed seats and autonomous driving capability.

The Ariya also previews a completely new “design language” – car industry jargon for how the car looks on the outside – which will likely dictate the style of all upcoming Nissan electric vehicles, and probably  combustion-engined ones, too.

In fact, Nissan is proclaiming the Ariya’s design as a ”look that signals a complete reinvention of the brand’s design”.

Sometimes concept cars don’t make it into production, or make it in a very changed way, but Nissan is strongly hinting that the Ariya will make landfall in little over a year - which means it is unlikely to face radical changes.

Nissan’s Yasuhiro Yamauchi said: “The Ariya concept is just the beginning, as Nissan considers how design, packaging and driver enjoyment can be transformed through the architecture of new EV platforms.

“The Ariya concept is not a concept car designed from far off ideas, but rather a car that embodies Nissan Intelligent Mobility at its core and highlights a promise of an entirely new driving experience on the horizon.”

The Ariya concept expands on design elements first hinted at by the Nissan IMx concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

They include the bold electrified V-motion signature “shield” and striking rear light blade, short overhangs, and an interior that feels “more like a lounge” than a conventional vehicle.

Nissan is calling the style ‘Timeless Japanese Futurism’ and using words like “sleek,” “seamless” and “sexy” to describe the Ariya.

Wide front bumpers, super-thin LED headlights, and an illuminated Nissan emblem on the grille all act as new design elements on the car.

The grille itself has been transformed into what Nissan is branding a ‘shield’ – because it also hides technologies like radar sensors to enable autonomous driving.

Other new design concepts on the Ariya for Nissan include five-blade, 21-inch aluminium wheels with custom tyres, a low, sleek, a steeply raked C-pillar and a one-piece light blade with blacked-out lenses that runs across the width of the body.

A new Suisei Blue paint scheme is designed to create a dual appearance, depending on the distance viewed. From afar, the deep blue colour takes on a matte-like finish. Upon closer inspection, large embedded glass flakes produce billions of light refractions, reminiscent of a comet crossing the night sky, proclaims Nissan.

Accenting the Ariya Concept’s roofline and wheels is a new signature colour for future Nissan EVs: copper.

The dash is minimalist and uncluttered by buttons and switches. Touch controls like heating come to life with a glow, then disappear into the instrument panel surface when the car is not in use.

The only physical controls are the start button, a single knob to operate the 12.3-inch display monitor, and the climate controls, which are artfully ingrained into the instrument panel’s genuine-wood lower section.

The instrument panel “transitions” into the doors and interior elements, to be out of sight when not in use.

The Ariya Concept features the latest version of Nissan’s driver assistance system, ProPILOT2.0, designed to work on single and multi-lane highways, and even offer hands-off driving when permitted. (Drivers will be prompted to take control at key times like approaching junctions.)

The Ariya is powered by a 100% electric drive system that delivers instant torque to all four wheels from a dual front/rear motor drive configuration.

It claims excellent cornering performance and traction on slippery surfaces such as snow and loose dirt, without drivers needing to change their driving style, steering input or even pedal position.

Smart technology is designed to allow the Ariya to do a ton of stuff ranging from automated parking controlled from a smartphone to using even using Nissan energy tech to sell energy back to the grid.

Full details of the car’s capabilities – including all-important range and charging time data – have yet to be released.

The Ariya Concept shared the stage at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show with the Nissan IMk, an EV urban commuter concept.

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