We get behind the wheel of the Nissan Qashqai e-Power – a full hybrid like no other…
The Nissan Qashqai has been a huge success. Originally launched in the UK back in 2007, it pioneered the crossover concept with its blend of hatchback compactness and SUV practicality, becoming the best-selling car in the UK by 2022.
Built in Britain at Nissan’s giant plant in Sunderland, it entered its third generation in 2021 and it’s better than ever.
Introduced initially with just a 1.3-litre mild hybrid engine, an intriguing e-Power version was added in 2022. And it’s this model that’s the subject of this week’s road test.
Unlike a conventional hybrid, the e-Power’s 1.5-litre petrol engine doesn’t directly drive the car. Instead, it acts as a generator, sending power to a small 1.97kWh lithium ion battery, then on to an electric motor (outputting 187bhp), which drives the front wheels.
As the marketing blurb says, it’s “powered by electric, refuelled with petrol”, so there’s no need to recharge the Nissan Qashqai e-Power. In fact, you can wave goodbye to the range anxiety so often associated with pure electric vehicles.
Priced from £34,020, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power feels more like an EV to drive (instant torque, single-speed, seamless performance), but it never has to be plugged in – nor will it run out of charge.
The system is happiest in low-speed urban driving environments or when cruising where there’s no stress on the engine and it can almost tick over as it charges the battery. Sometimes, the engine will cut out altogether and it will just run in pure electric mode.
It’s only under heavy acceleration or prolonged high-speed driving, on motorways for instance, that the engine has to work harder and it makes itself known.
But even then (unlike some full hybrids) the revs don’t shoot up creating a din in the cabin, even if it’s not a completely whisper-quiet experience. Disconcertingly, the engine’s revs sometimes seem to bear little relation to the demands made by your right foot, but broadly speaking, it works well.
For the record, it’s capable of a 0-62mph dash in a spritely 7.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 105mph.
Nothing goes to waste either. Kinetic energy otherwise lost via braking and coasting is used to recharge the battery (brake regeneration) and you can engage e-Pedal mode to give you a one pedal driving like the 100% electric Nissan Leaf.
In practice, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power offers economy close to a diesel. Officially, it will return 53.3mpg, and in everyday driving that’s realistic and can be bettered – especially if you drive sensibly. During our week with the car, at best we managed close on 70mpg, at worst closer to 40mpg.
Of course, the downside is that it’s not 100% electric, so while it’s capable of good fuel economy, CO2 emissions are a low, but significant 120g/km – despite all that tech.
Three driving modes are available (Eco, Standard and Sport) with the car always defaulting to standard, which is just as well because it offers the best blend of performance and economy.
Elsewhere, the e-Power is much like a regular Qashqai, which is no bad thing. Distinctive and modern, it offers serious kerb appeal.
Inside, it looks fresh, it’s well put together, soft-touch surfaces give it a classy feel and it’s packed with technology.
The 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, is responsive and easy to use. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital driver’s instrument cluster, plus the latest version of Nissan’s ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system.
All models are equipped with Nissan’s driver assistance and safety package, which includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
There’s plenty of space for all the family to be seated in comfort, and the rear doors open wide for easy access. Luggage capacity is a decent 504 litres, expanding to 1,447 with the rear seats folded down.
The driving position is ideal, and just as you’d expect from a high-rider, visibility is impressive.
The Nissan Qashqai e-Power handles well and is surprisingly agile. Push it and there’s a little body lean in corners, but otherwise it offers a comfortable ride with ample grip, while the light steering works a treat in town.
It would be an exaggeration to call it an engaging drive, but then the e-Power is more about practicality and economy.
The Qashqai e-Power has a long list of rivals, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Suzuki S-Cross, though none use Nissan’s novel hybrid system.
Verdict: Nissan has dared to be different with the Qashqai e-Power – a cross between a full hybrid and an EV. Economical, comfortable, smooth, safe and practical, it’s a perfect stepping stone for drivers who aren’t ready – or can’t yet – make the switch to a pure electric vehicle.