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Nissan Ariya SUV "almost as fast as a GT-R", even more hardcore Nismo version possible

Nissan’s just unveiled Ariya SUV is more than just a pretty face, with the brand’s most senior executives talking up its performance chops and promising it will “almost” match the blistering pace of the GT-R performance halo vehicle.

The all-electric crossover also debuts a new design direction for the Japanese brand, with busy styling shown the door in favour of clean and fuss-free lines.

A concept in name only, the Ariya will make it to production almost unchanged (though the brand concedes the alloys at least are “virtually no chance” of making the final version), with pricing and specification details to be revealed around the middle of next year.

While exactly what’s under the stylish new skin remains something of a mystery, executives at the Tokyo motor show have confirmed a dual motor setup (one at each axle) and enough driving range for the average driver to only need to pug in every seven days.

But it’s the performance potential that grabbed the most attention, with the brand’s executives describing the acceleration as "super fun".

The Ariya will be offered in single and twin motor guises, with the latter unlocking serious pace. 

“You add another motor, and you double the power, you double the torque,” says Nissan's Electric Vehicle Program Director, Hugues Desmarchelier.

“Then if you add that to some software that our engineers have developed, you have a real performance car, with handling that is astonishing, even in bad weather.

"What we try to do having two versions - with two- and all-wheel drive - is to give the customer what they want. If they want super fun, then its absolutely possible."

Asked whether the Ariya would one day wear the Nismo badge, Mr Desmarchelier replied "it’s possible, yes".

The Ariya will lead Nissan's electric charge globally, with the brand suggesting it will outsell the Leaf in some markets. 

Built on a 'skateboard' - in which the key driving components are located under the floor - the Ariya unlocks more interior space, with the design team suggesting the cabin dimensions matched those of a conventional SUV one size up.

It also features Nissan's ProPILOT 2.0; the Japan only (for now) autonomous tech that allows for true hands-off driving on freeways.

While timing is yet to be confirmed, Nissan in Australia wants the Ariya locally just as soon as they can get it, with Australian boss Stephen Lester telling CarsGuide "We'll take it as soon as get it".