The all-new third generation Nissan Qashqai has been around since early 2021, but for 2023 there’s a little refresh and more importantly, a new E-Power drivetrain that is essentially a range-extender hybrid.
‘What’s that then?’ I hear you ask. Well to strip it down to its most basic definition, the car is essentially an EV – it has an electric motor that does all the driving. But the battery doesn’t need to be plugged-in to charge, because there’s a petrol engine on board that acts as a generator.
In this case you have a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine, that sends its power to a generator, which in turn is connected to an inverter, from where the energy is sent to the battery at the back to keep it charged, or can be sent to the motor at the front to drive the wheels, particularly when you accelerate hard or need torque.
Normally I’m not a fan of these type of set-ups for two reasons: a) because I don’t see how it’s efficient to be carrying an actual ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) around that isn’t actually connected to the wheels at all (it’s literally like lugging around the weight of a spare generator in the boot – which to be fair, some Tesla owners have been known to do!).
And secondly because of the bizarre disconnect in sound and sensation between what you’re doing at the wheel (i.e. accelerating or slowing) and what the engine noise is doing – it could be running entirely independently just to charge the batteries.
In the Qashqai the variable compression ratio engine is set up in a far more clever way, and actually features step changes in revolutions, along with sound-cancellation technology in the speakers, to reduce any noise intrusion, and make the driving experience feel more like an EV.
It’s only when you put it under load that you’ll really hear the engine, but then it’s programmed to match your throttle application, so it behaves more like a natural petrol engine would do when powering the car, which to some extent, under heavy acceleration, it is.
Still confused? I can’t blame you. But suffice to know that it’s very clever, pretty unintrusive, and means that you are driving an electric car, without having to stop for charging, because it does that by itself on the go.
Plus the experience, won’t feel much different to driving a regular car. It’s kinda like a have-your-cake-and-eat-it scenario (but the cake is vegan), though Nissan prefers to think of it more as a transitional technology car – intended, to an extent, to ween its customer base off petrol or diesel and onto electric.
It works. Not least because the Qashqai – a best-seller for Nissan – is an already excellent, practical and well-sorted car for full-on family use. It doesn’t lose too much in cargo space, passenger room, comfort and airiness, thanks to tiny windows cut in the c—pillar and a panoramic roof.
It’s an untaxing drive, featuring a Sport mode and regen braking – although that’s less apparent in Eco mode. There is an e-pedal mode that provides up to 0.2g of deceleration, compared to 0.11g in ‘B’ mode on the transmission selector – although technically this doesn’t actually have a gearbox as such. Normal drive provides only 0.03g of braking.
It’s reasonably satisfying to chuck around corners, although that won’t be encouraged by your passengers. And acceleration is really not bad at all.
This Qashqai E-Power 190 2WD Automatic features an output equivalent of 190bhp and 330Nm of torque, giving it a 0-62mph dash time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 105mph. The fuel consumed by the on-board motor is at a rate of up to 53mpg and CO2 emissions are under 123g/km.
Prices start at £32,950 for the Acenta Premium, just over £35k for the N-Connecta, around £38k for the Tekna and this Tekna+ is nearly £41k.
This is an electric SUV that you can put the whole family and their belongings in, and go for a long journey, without having to worry about where you’ll stop to charge it, because you don’t have too. And the clever way its configured means you won’t feel bad about apparently carrying a ‘redundant’ engine around with you everywhere.
A great stepping stone for those not quite ready to go full EV just yet.