Nissan unveiled a strange new electric concept car this week at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. Not strange in the sense that it had a virtual koi fish assistant, or that it resembled a boxy, Blade Runner-y sedan, or that it sings. No, the new Nissan Ariya concept is strange because of how normal it looks. For the first time in a few years, you can look at the newest Nissan concept and get a real sense of what the company might do with an electric car that isn’t the Leaf.
That’s on the design side, at least. Nissan didn’t tease too many technical details with the Ariya, save for saying that it was designed to be powered by a twin electric motor setup that will enable all-wheel drive performance. (Which, personally, I find sort of ironic considering the automaker’s team in all-electric racing series Formula E got twin-motor setups banned from the series after quietly using one this past season.)
As far as the look of the car goes, the Ariya doesn’t feel too far off from something that could go into production next year. It’s a crossover SUV, so it’s on the smaller side, and it most closely resembles the Jaguar I-Pace. Meanwhile, the two-toned look and the thin, aggressive headlights recall the designs employed by startups like Byton or Faraday Future.
The Ariya has a relatively simple interior, with a big 12.3-inch horizontal display that stretches from behind the steering wheel out to the center of the dashboard. Nissan boasts about having almost no physical buttons in its press release, save for a knob that would be used to navigate the infotainment system and vehicle settings on the display. For the climate controls, there’s a row of touch-sensitive icons on the lower part of the dashboard that have haptic feedback.
There are some other smart car touches on the Ariya, like how the concept car will recognize the driver’s smartphone and automatically adjust settings to their liking, or how the vehicle is equipped with Nissan’s most advanced version of its ProPilot driver assistance system. If you could knock the Ariya for anything, it’s that it’s not the most memorable car because of how normal it looks (save for, perhaps, those wheels).
But the most stunning thing about the Ariya is that, this time at least, Nissan dropped the gimmicks and rolled out a reasonable vehicle that we may very well see in production form someday soon. For those who have been waiting for the Japanese automaker to start talking about a follow to the Leaf (which has been a successful car in its own right), the Ariya looks like the beginning of that conversation.