Our drive was in the base model of the four-step line-up, meaning 217HP (160kW) and 300Nm (221lb ft) through the front wheels via a single motor powered by a 63kWh battery. This is good for 250 miles of range but the next model up with the 87kWh battery looks like the sweet spot of the range and out-guns whichever of the shared platform VW equivalents your brand loyalty (or, more accurately, snobbery) would have you considering instead.
A relatively ‘soft’ throttle pedal blunts the edge of the usual off the line pace you get in many electric cars but, frankly, makes for more relaxing progress if thwacking your passengers’ skulls into the headrests is to be avoided. From there the base Ariya accelerates briskly enough for a car of this size and weight and the hours spent calibrating it for European roads means even on an old F1 track it has a commendably precise response to the wheel, contains its weight convincingly and doesn’t roll about too much. Like Villeneuve’s cumbersome Ferrari the Ariya does eventually show its weight and lack of agility in Jarama’s twistier sections but only at speeds that would see tyre squeal drowned by the screams of your passengers and, overall, it’s better than it probably needs to be. The ride is especially impressive, with the caveat that a smooth race track will flatter to deceive. Dedicated road testers that we are, we deliberately went off-line and over as many serrated kerbs and rough bits of paved infield we could find without getting black-flagged and, impressively, the isolation of hard-edged bumps was as impressive as the body control suggested, even on the optional 20-inch wheels.
For that electrified spirit of the GT-R Nissan somewhat implausibly claims for the Ariya you’ll have to pick one of the pricier e-4force branded models with the twin-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain and punchier power outputs. The most potent of these has 394PS (290kW), which won’t trouble a Tesla but is enough to keep tabs with the rest of its immediate rivals. We didn’t get to drive this version but did have a quick go with an e-4force equipped Leaf test mule (on cool Rays wheels, natch) and, driving the same course with the system disabled and then engaged, it did have a noticeable effect smoothing out the power delivery with targeted distribution across both axles and to individual wheels. Which is obviously a vital consideration on the school run.