As the automotive landscape trends toward forced electrification, Nissan offers an intermediate step before full electric. A way to reassure drivers harassed by the anxiety of running out of battery, despite the efforts of manufacturers in terms of autonomy.
To date, the Japanese manufacturer has only had one hybrid vehicle in its range, the Nissan Juke, which uses the engine of its Alliance cousin, the Renault Captur E-Tech. Since then, the Juke has seen the arrival of a companion, the Qashqai e-Power SUV, also a hybrid.
Unlike the Juke, the Qashqai uses in-house technology launched in 2016 on the Nissan Note in Japan. This system could be assimilated to a range extender, following what the first version of the BMW i3 or the Chevrolet Volt offered. Thus, in the i3, a small gasoline engine (3 cylinders), fed by an 11-litre tank, had only one function, that of recharging the battery almost dry. This unique help made it possible to reach a charging station. In no case did this extension drive the wheels. In the case of our Nissan Qashqai e-Power, the operation of the system is slightly different.
The Nissan Qashqai is equipped with a standard hybrid engine. The thermal block permanently supplies energy to the electric traction block. Thus, under the hood is a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 158 hp with variable compression ratio that operates at well-defined regimes. In the city it is discreet (around 1650 rpm), while on the highway it becomes more virulent (up to 4900 rpm). This configuration makes it possible to optimize efficiency and therefore control consumption (5.3 l/100 km in the WLTP cycle according to the manufacturer), and therefore CO2 emissions (119 g).
Therefore, in the Nissan Qashqai, the internal combustion engine does not drive the wheels at all. It is coupled to a 140 kW (190 hp – 330 Nm of torque) electric motor, while a “small” battery with a useful capacity of 1.8 kWh (2.1 gross kWh) serves as a buffer between the two and as a support to internal combustion. engine during heavy acceleration or braking. Added to this is an inverter and a generator. This drivetrain is similar to what we tested on the new Honda e:Civic.
The on-board master is, therefore, the electric motor that drives the wheels by itself, while the battery recovers the energy from regenerative braking that will be reinjected into the generator during acceleration phases.
Athletic on the outside, cozy on the inside
Externally, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power features an athletic line. However, its general line does not change with respect to the previous one. At most, it takes a few centimeters here and there: +35 mm long (4,429 meters), +15 mm high (1,615 meters) and +32 mm wide (1,838 meters). The reason lies in the use of the common CMF-C platform of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
The result, a gain in space in the cabin – the battery is placed under the front seats – and a boot volume that shows from 455 to 1580 liters. On the other hand, in terms of weight, this SUV is not the lightest: from 1,610 kg to 1,720 kg in our test version (Tekna+). Please note that the tank can hold 55 liters of gasoline.
The dashboard has a classic but serious design. We appreciated the assembly and the quality of the foam materials, specific to our test version. If you sit well in the front, the most pampered are the rear passengers, whose access on board is greatly facilitated by the opening of the doors at 85 degrees. And with +20mm in the legs, the big ones no longer have to be threaded to fit their shell.
The digital revolution is underway at Nissan with this third generation Qashqai. In the menu, a 12.3-inch (31.24 cm diagonal) instrument cluster customizable from a steering wheel control, a 10.8-inch (27.43 cm diagonal) head-up display system and a 9-inch (22.86 cm diagonal) touchscreen as standard. in the N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ versions and customizable. The latter, compatible with CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa (voice assistant), proved to be responsive and fluid.
Despite the numerous accesses to the various functions through the touch screen, Nissan does not overlook the separate physical heating controls. Ergonomics wins.
The Nissan Qashqai e-power also offers two USB-A and two USB-C sockets, as well as a 15-watt induction charger.
A complex but efficient engine
It’s time to hit the road. Pressing the start button directly activates the electric motor. Once in the driving position, the SUV swoops down in cathedral silence. It must be said that Nissan has taken great care in soundproofing, especially between the powertrain and the passenger compartment. To do this, the Japanese manufacturer has equipped its Qashqai with a noise reducer (under the floor of the trunk) coupled to the audio system. The combo makes it possible to erase parasitic noises, without impeding rolling noises.
The tiny 1.8 kWh battery allows you to travel between 2 and 3 km in fully electric mode. By pressing the right pedal a little more, the combustion engine starts up, but only an attentive ear will perceive its purr. A glance at the instrument cluster shows the power flow exchanges.
Once launched, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power is agile and has responsive and precise steering. We note that the contribution of the multi-link rear axle (Tekna and Tekna+) makes it possible to contain parasitic movements of the body, even during a succession of rapid turns. On the other hand, it does not prevent you from feeling the faults of the road, especially in the city. The fault of a standard 20-inch mount that can be changed – for free – to 19 inches. Then comfort is privileged.
During a rare foray on Swedish motorways (limited to 110 km/h) or during overtaking, we might notice a little latency when the accelerator needs to be stepped on. Nothing prohibitive since the couple is present. Note also that unlike some series-parallel hybrid competitors, at Toyota for example, the Nissan Qashquai has no gearbox and no clutch. During a strong request on the right pedal, the engine does not accelerate.
Although hybrid, the Qashqai is equipped with a regenerative braking system (B or Brake mode) that differs depending on the chosen driving mode (Eco, Normal or Sport). The e-Pedal feature is required, seen on the Leaf. It normally allows the accelerator pedal to be used as a brake when released. Following customer feedback on its use, Nissan has revised the e-Pedal, now called “electronic footswitch“. The difference is in the braking, which now slows the car down to 5 km/h without stopping it completely, as was the case before.
Another must-have, the ProPilot is a level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistant consisting of adaptive cruise control for lane keeping, lane assist and traffic jam management assist. As a reminder, this system is capable of “driving” the Qashqai managing, particularly on motorways, safety distances, direction and speed. ProPilot accelerates, brakes the car to a complete stop, and restarts only when the lane is clear.
After a varied journey of about 90 km, our average fuel consumption was 5.1 l/100 km. A value on the nails of the technical sheet, but that we will not fail to check in more varied courses when the trial version is available in France.
In the end, this Nissan Qashqai e-Power seduced us and showed promising driving pleasure. The soundproofing of the powertrain is also a good point. In addition, its generous interior and its reactive and complete infotainment are assets in favor of this hybrid SUV. A longer test will allow us to delve into its qualities on the road and its real consumption.
There is a slight downside to pricing, however, which starts at €38,200 for the entry-level Acenta version and goes up to €46,000 for the top-of-the-line Tekna+. In total, there are 5 finishes, including the Business Edition at €39,200. On the competition side, Nissan will have a hard time facing Hyundai Tucson, Kia Niro, Honda ZR-V and even Ford Kuga, which has the peculiarity of being hybrid and compatible with E85 Superethanol.
We’ll come back to this Nissan Qashqai e-Power in a fuller test when we get a chance.
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