As the automotive landscape moves toward forced electrification, Nissan offers an intermediate step before going all-electric. A way to reassure drivers who are bothered by the worry of running out of juice, despite the efforts of manufacturers regarding autonomy.
To date, the Japanese manufacturer has only one hybrid car 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 that was launched in 2016 with the Nissan Note in Japan. This system can be compared to a range extender, which follows from what was offered in the first version of the BMW i3 or the Chevrolet Volt. Thus, in the i3, a small gasoline engine (3 cylinders), powered by an 11-liter tank, has only one function, that of recharging the battery that is almost dry. This one-off assistance makes it possible to reach a charging station. Under no circumstances does this extension drive the wheels. In the case of our Nissan Qashqai e-Power, the system is a bit different in how it works.
The Nissan Qashqai is equipped with a standard hybrid engine. The thermal block permanently powers the electric traction block. Thus, under the hood, there is a 158 hp 1.5 l turbo 3-cylinder gasoline engine with a variable compression ratio that operates at a well-defined engine speed. In the city, it is cautious (about 1650 rpm), while it can be worse on the highway (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 consequently CO2 emissions (119 g).
In the Nissan Qashqai, the internal combustion engine therefore does not drive the wheels. It is accompanied by an electric motor that develops 140 kW (190 hp – 330 Nm torque), while a “small” battery with a useful capacity of 1.8 kWh (2.1 kWh gross) serves as a buffer between the two and sustains internal combustion. engine during heavy acceleration or braking. It adds an inverter and a generator. This traction chain is similar to the one we tested on the new Honda e:Civic.
The master ride is the electric motor that drives the wheels on its own, while the battery recovers energy from regenerative braking to be reinjected into the generator during periods of acceleration.
Athletic on the outside, comfortable on the inside
On the outside, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power presents an athletic line. However, its general line has not changed from the previous one. At most, a few centimeters here and there are needed: +35 mm in height (4.429 meters), +15 mm in height (1.615 meters) and +32 mm in width (1.838 meters). The reason lies in the use of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s common CMF-C platform.
Result, a gain in cabin space – the battery is placed under the front seats – and a boot volume that shows 455 to 1580 liters. On the other hand, in terms of weight, this SUV is not the lightest: from 1610 kg to 1720 kg for our test version (Tekna +). Note, the tank can hold 55 liters of fuel.
The dashboard has a classic but serious design. We appreciate the assembly and the quality of the foamed materials, specifically in our test version. If you sit well in front, the most preferred are the passengers in the back, whose access to the ride is greatly facilitated by opening the doors at 85 degrees. And with +20 mm in the legs, big guys don’t have to hunch over to fit their carcass.
The digital revolution continues at Nissan with this 3rd generation Qashqai. In the menu, a 12.3-inch (31.24 cm diagonal) instrument cluster, customizable from the steering wheel control, a 10.8-inch head-up system (27.43 cm diagonal) and a screen 9-inch touch screen ( 22.86 cm diagonal) standard in 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 many accesses to various functions through the touch screen, Nissan has neglected 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 machine
It’s time to hit the road. Pressing the start button directly activates the electric motor. Once engaged in the Drive position, the SUV accelerates in a cathedral-like silence. It must be said that Nissan took good care of the soundproofing, especially between the powertrain and the passenger compartment. For this, the Japanese manufacturer equipped his Qashqai with a noise reducer (under the floor of the trunk) together with the audio system. The combo makes it possible to eliminate the parasitic noises, without preventing the rolling noises.
The small 1.8 kWh battery allows you to cover between 2 and 3 km in all-electric mode. When you press the right pedal a little, the heat engine will start, but only an attentive ear will notice its hum. The instrument cluster view shows the exchange of energy flow.
When launched, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power is agile and has responsive and precise steering. We note that the contribution of the multi-arm rear axle (Tekna and Tekna +) makes it possible to contain parasitic body movements, even during successive rapid turns. On the other hand, it does not prevent you from feeling the mistakes of the road, especially in the city. The error of a standard 20-inch mount that can be changed – without charge – up to 19 inches. Comfort is then privileged.
During a rare invasion of Swedish motorways (limited to 110 km/h) or during overtaking, we notice a small latency when it is necessary to crush the accelerator pedal. Nothing is forbidden because the couple is there. Also note that unlike some series-parallel hybrid competitors, Toyota for example, the Nissan Qashquai does not have a gearbox and clutch. During a strong request of the right pedal, the engine will not race.
Although a hybrid, the Qashqai is equipped with a regenerative braking system (B or Brake mode) that varies depending on the driving mode selected (Eco, Normal or Sport). The e-Pedal function, found in the Leaf, is required. This usually allows the accelerator pedal to be used as a brake when released. Following customer feedback on its use, Nissan reviewed the e-Pedal, now called “e-Pedal Step“. The difference is in the braking, which now slows the car down to 5 km/h without stopping it completely, as it happened before.
Another must-have, ProPilot is a level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance consisting of adaptive lane-keeping cruise control, lane assistant and traffic management assistant. As a reminder, this system can “steer” the Qashqai by handling, especially on expressways, safety distances, direction and speed. ProPilot accelerates, brakes the vehicle to a complete stop and restarts itself when the lane is clear ahead.
After a different journey of about 90 km, our average fuel consumption was 5.1 l/100 km. A value of the nails of the technical sheet, but that we will not fail to examine more different courses when the trial version is in France.
Finally, this Nissan Qashqai e-Power seduces us and shows good 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 deepen the qualities of the road and its real consumption.
However, there is a slight downside to the prices, which start at €38,200 for the entry-level version of the Acenta and go up to €46,000 for the Tekna +, the top of the range. In total, there were 5 completed, including the Business Edition for €39,200. In terms of competition, Nissan will have a hard time facing Hyundai Tucson, Kia Niro, Honda ZR-V and even Ford Kuga, which has a hybrid variant and is compatible with Superethanol E85.
We will return to this Nissan Qashqai e-Power in a more complete test as soon as we have the chance.