Nissan was caught testing a sportier version of its Ariya crossover at the Nürburgring this week, prompting speculation as to whether a full-blown performance model is coming down the pipeline. If so, will Nissan call it a Nismo, or will it carry new branding intended to divorce it from the company’s sportier internal-combustion models?
Let’s start up front, where this prototype is wearing a somewhat pronounced lip spoiler with a smoothed-out lower fascia above it, rather than the usual open-mouth design of the standard Ariya. The sensor/camera pods normally recessed within the air curtain cut-outs on the front bumper have also moved inboard slightly — possibly to allow for increased airflow through the openings themselves.
The shape of the front bumper and fenders is also different enough to make the Ariya’s black plastic flares seem less pronounced on the prototype. It’s hard to tell at this stage whether the body is actually wider, necessitating narrower fenders to keep the overall width the same, or if the wider front bumper is creating an illusion.
There’s not a ton to see on the flanks. The rocker covers appear to be of a similar design to those we’ve seen on production models, so there’s nothing glaring to report there. The wheels don’t appear to be lifted from any existing models, and the lightweight, multi-spoke design suggests performance aspirations.
The most pronounced differences can be spotted in the rear. The spoiler atop the rear hatch appears to carry over from the standard car, but the pronounced lip that extends from the belt line around the base of the rear glass is new, as is the larger “shelf” on the diffuser integrated into the rear bumper.
Nissan hasn’t said anything public about its performance aims for this new crossover, so for the time being we’re in the dark on what might be propelling it. For that, we’ll just have to hang tight.