A whole new cell of cars is being created for our electric future and some of them were lined up at the annual SMMT driving day for motoring writers.
We have seen many hybrid adaptations of some familiar models, and they have been joined by pure electric derivatives. Still, these are about to be replaced by an entirely new generation from the world’s car-makers.
After Tesla broke new ground with their long-range and highly sophisticated battery electric vehicles in the first decade of this century, traditional and familiar car makers started developing and refining their projects using Tesla models as their benchmarks.
Now, these are feeding into showrooms and online but come with hefty price tags, a fact also taken from Tesla.
One of the latest is the Nissan Ariya, the company’s first pure electric crossover, which will eventually offer three powertrains and the most expensive getting a bigger battery giving a maximum range close to 330 miles with a whacking 600Nm of torque, from £43,845.
It’s a massive leap from the Nissan LEAF, which was one of the first BEVs in Britain over a decade ago with a 73 miles range.
Sitting between the Qashqai and X-Trail, the Ariya clearly indicates the company’s future direction of travel and will be an eye-opener to existing Nissan drivers.
Our upper-grade Ariya 87kWh Evolve produced 300Nm of torque, 242ps maximum and is good for 100mph with 0-62mph of 7.6 seconds and a range of 322 miles.
Its head-turning exterior look is matched by an eye-catching interior of very clean surfaces, haptic fascia controls and stunning instruments.
Inside, it comfortably sits five people and an electrically adjusted central console box can be positioned to maximise rear legroom or be used by those in front. The boot is enormous.
You have three performance modes to choose, eco, normal or sport and it covers ground easily if it was a little lumpy on the 19-inch wheels.
The lumpy ride contrasted with the extremely smooth powertrain in any mode, and the virtual absence of motor noise meant you could hear road noise, which was still very low.
The Ariya looks and feels a good class above its size and despite costing £53,391 as tested it probably will be a game changer for Nissan and its closest rivals.
Volkswagen was an eager entrant into the EV world, first with hybrids and much more recently with electric versions of their familiar small cars, but the ID series is what will shape their future.
We had tested ID.3 and 4, so we couldn’t turn down the opportunity for a brief run in the ID.5 Tech 77 kWh Pro Performance 204PS model, which is very good.
Just short of £54,000, it is a roomy crossover five-seater with 310Nm pulling power, and it holds onto a range of 315 miles recharging in as little as 29mins to 80% on a quick point and 7hrs 30min on the end of an 11 kW cable.
For what is a mid-sized car, it weighs in at just over 2.1 tonnes but quickly hits 62mph from a standstill in under 8.5 seconds and onto a maximum of 99mph.
The BEV platform has been designed to good effect and the boot space rises from a nominal 549 to a maximum of 1561 litres, so it comfortably takes a big load and is easy to fill.
Cleanly styled in a less fussy manner both outside and inside than most Volkswagens with petrol engines, the ID.5 is one of the quietest EVs you could buy, but it also handles and drives well, more sporting than suburban.
Don’t be surprised if it becomes the standard comparison for rivals in this class.
See BMW and you invariably notice twin kidney shapes in a dramatic nose with a slender body line flowing behind.
Well, the new iX is all that, but more significant than you may expect. It is exciting to get behind the wheel of the £101,000 i20 iX M60, knowing how the German brand tends to put performance on the big burner.
With another £20K of options tagged on, it is a highly desirable executive car, but our thoughts were how can this be worth it. It was.
With many driving modes, digitally enhanced sounds and displays, the iX is a highly individual driving experience with a unique interior and incredible performance.
It packs an enormous punch in the back when full power is selected and 0-62mph appears in just 3.8 seconds, maximum of 155mph and covers about 300 miles on a full charge
That punch alone is edifying, the handling and responses are exhilarating and the refinement is so calming. It is head and shoulders top of the range as a flagship model.
For something a bit different which will affect us all, we had a quick spin in the latest Ford E-Transit.
Britain’s highly popular van series has gone electric with a choice of 100 or 160kW motors giving 430Nm of torque, up to 244 miles on a full charge with a 1,100kg load over a lowered cargo floor, and it will pull a 2,000kg trailer.
Our Trend 2WD model tested charged to 80% in about half-hour on a fast point and its overall range using performance when needed meant it was good for 156 miles overall.
Ford supplies only a fast charge cable and a domestic three-pin plug and cable are an extra £100, while the grey colour is a £650 option, which seems strange to me unless you don’t mind the standard white.
Without VAT, the test model price was a hefty £53,390, which means it is only attractive to fleets seeking green credentials as it is probably too expensive for the typical owner-driver business user.
That said, driving the L3H2 was so easy and the on-road performance was useable and good with smart pickup, quiet main road cruising and the lower floor has really increased easy loading and capacity, not to mention enhanced road-holding for a 2WD floorpan.
It had three seats and a lot of oddments’ space in the cabin with excellent vision to front and sides and big mirrors, but it needs a rear camera to help reverse into loading bays or parking.
Still, it’s an excellent step forward but with a high price.
Robin contributes to a number of outlets in Wales and the UK, including the Driving Force editorial syndication agency feeding the biggest regional news and feature publishers in Britain.
Robin was the longest serving chairman of The Western Group of Motoring Writers. He specialises in the Welsh automotive sector and motor related businesses with interests in Wales and publishes WheelsWithinWales.uk which covers news, features, trade and motor sport in Wales.
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