With the automotive landscape moving towards forced electrification, Nissan is offering a middle ground before all-electricity. A way to reassure drivers suffering from anxiety about running out of juice, despite the efforts of manufacturers in terms of autonomy.
Until now, the Japanese manufacturer had 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 launched in 2016 on the Nissan Note in Japan. This system can be compared to various extensions, following what the first version of the BMW i3 or the Chevrolet Volt offered. Therefore, on the i3, a small petrol engine (3 cylinders), powered by an 11 liter tank, had only one function, to restore the almost dry battery. This immediate support made it possible to reach the charging station. In any case this extension drove the wheels. In the case of our Nissan Qashqai e-Power, the system is slightly different in how it works.
Nissan Qashqai has a standard hybrid engine. The thermal barrier supplies energy to the electric gravity barrier. So, under the hood, there is a 158 hp 1.5 l turbo 3-cylinder gasoline engine with a variable compression ratio that works at a well-defined engine speed. In the city, it is reasonable (around 1650 rpm), while it becomes worse on the highway (up to 4900 rpm). This configuration makes it possible to increase efficiency and thus control consumption (5.3 l/100 km in the WLTP cycle according to the manufacturer), and therefore CO2 emissions (119 g).
On the Nissan Qashqai, the internal combustion engine therefore does not drive the wheels at all. It is connected to an electric motor that produces 140 kW (190 hp – 330 Nm torque), while a “small” battery with a useful capacity of 1.8 kWh (gross 2.1 kWh) serves as a buffer between the two and supports the internal combustion. engine when accelerating or stopping. Added to this is an inverter and generator. This intake manifold is similar to the one we tested in the new Honda e:Civic.
So the master on board is an electric motor that drives the wheels itself, while the battery gets energy from the regenerative braking that will be re-inserted into the generator during the acceleration phases.
Athletic outside, smooth inside
On the outside, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power presents a sporty line. However, its general line does not change from the previous one. In addition, it takes a few centimeters here and there: +35 mm in length (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 common CMF-C platform of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
As a result, the advantage of space in the cabin – the battery is placed under the front seats – and the volume of the boot showing 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 version of the test (Tekna +). Remember, the tank can hold 55 liters of petrol.
The dashboard has a simple but focused design. We appreciate the collection and quality of foam materials, especially for our test version. If you sit comfortably in the front, many rear passengers, whose access to the board is greatly facilitated by the opening of the doors at 85 degrees. And with +20 mm for the legs, older people no longer need to bend to fit their torso.
The digital revolution continues at Nissan with this 3rd generation Qashqai. In the menu, a 12.3-inch (diagonal 31.24 cm) instrument cluster, customizable from the steering wheel control, a 10.8-inch (27.43 cm diagonal) upper system and a 9-inch (22.86 cm diagonal) touch screen on versions of N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ and customizable. The latter, supported by CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa (voice assistant), has proven to be responsive to water.
Despite the numerous access to various functions through the touch screen, Nissan does not neglect the different 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 tough but efficient engine
It’s time to hit the road. Pressing the start button automatically starts the electric vehicle. Once engaged in the Park space, the SUV rushes into the silence of the cathedral. It must be said that Nissan has taken good care of soundproofing, especially between the electric car and the passenger compartment. For this, the Japanese manufacturer has equipped its Qashqai with a noise reducer (under the floor of the trunk) as well as a sound system. The combination makes it possible to cancel the parasitic noise, without blocking the rolling noise.
The small 1.8 kWh battery allows you to spend between 2 and 3 kilometers in electric mode. When you press the right pedal a little harder, the heat engine kicks in, but only a sensitive ear will detect its hum. A look at the instrument cluster shows the exchange of energy flows.
Once launched, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power is light and has responsive and precise steering. We see that the contribution of the rear axle of many arms (Tekna and Tekna +) makes it possible to have parasitic body movements, even during a series of quick turns. On the other hand, it does not prevent you from feeling the mistakes of the road, especially in the city. Standard 20-inch mounting error that can be changed – free of charge – to 19 inches. Comfort is then a priority.
During rare raids on Swedish roads (less than 110 km / h) or when crossing, we can see a small latency when it is necessary to crush the accelerator pedal. There is nothing to prevent as the couple is there. Note also that unlike other parallel series hybrid competitors, for Toyota for example, the Nissan Qashquai does not have a gearbox and a clutch. During a strong request on the right pedal, the engine does not run.
Although it is a hybrid, the Qashqai has an adaptive braking system (B or Brake mode) that varies depending on the selected driving mode (Eco, Normal or Sport). The e-Pedal function, seen on the Leaf, is required. It usually allows the accelerator pedal to be used as a brake when released. Following customer feedback on its use, Nissan has revised the e-Pedal, which is now called “The e-Pedal step“The difference is in the brake, which now slows the car down to 5 km/h without stopping it completely, as it was before.
Another must-have, ProPilot is a level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance that includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist and traffic management assistant. As a reminder, this system can “guide” Qashqai by managing, especially on expressways, safety distance, direction and speed. ProPilot accelerates, shuts the car down to a complete stop and restarts itself when the road ahead is clear.
After various trips of about 90 km, our average fuel consumption was 5.1 l/100 km. Value in the nails of the technical sheet, but that we will not miss to look at the various courses when the trial version is available in France.
In the end, this Nissan Qashqai e-Power convinced us and showed promising driving pleasure. The soundproofing of the power train is also a good step. In addition, its generous interior and its active and comprehensive infotainment are assets in favor of this hybrid SUV. A long-term test will allow us to strengthen its road characteristics and its real use.
However, there is a slight downside to the price, which starts at €38,200 for the entry-level version of the Acenta and goes up to €46,000 for the Tekna+, at the top of the range. In total, there are 5 fines, including the €39,200 Business Edition. In terms of competition, Nissan will have a hard time facing the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Niro, Honda ZR-V and even the Ford Kuga, which has the distinction of being a hybrid and compatible with Superethanol E85.
We’ll get back to this Nissan Qashqai e-Power in a more thorough test as soon as we get the chance.