There are many cars calling themselves hybrids these days but the technology varies hugely in scope, with some able to cover as much as 50 miles without using the internal combustion engine while others feature only token electrical assistance. Marketing terminology like ‘self-charging hybrid’ doesn’t help buyers’ confusion and into the fray purrs the e-Power version of the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai. How is it different? Put simply it’s powered by an electric motor so drives like an EV but uses a petrol engine to charge the battery, which could be a godsend for EV-curious drivers who don’t have off-street parking where you can plug into a home charger. Nissan’s technology is a bit different from anyone else’s but, for the sake of comparison, can be measured in cost and performance against more conventional hybrid alternatives like the Toyota RAV4 or Kia Sportage.
Click here for our review and Rory Reid’s video on the regular Qashqai.
Running costs for a Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“The Qashqai e-Power tries to split the difference, with electric drive and a petrol engine acting purely as an onboard generator”
Brace yourself for some jargon but plug-in hybrids (also known as PHEVs) are popular for their tax-busting CO2 numbers, especially for company drivers looking to save on Benefit In Kind. But they’re expensive and you need a driveway and the willingness to plug in to really realise the benefits. Regular hybrid systems like those pioneered by Toyota, and featuring in Qashqai alternatives like the C-HR and RAV4, are meanwhile more convenient because you don’t have to faff about with charging them. But perhaps not always as efficient as the numbers boast.
The Qashqai e-Power tries to split the difference, with electric drive and a petrol engine acting purely as an onboard generator to top up the battery. While this works on the road the e-Power still can’t match a PHEV for tax-friendly emissions scores and the fuel consumption is on a par with regular hybrids, or that diesel you might have bought previously. Merely one VED band down from the regular versions, the e-Power nonetheless claims to bring a sense of electrified power to those who might not have the cash upfront to buy a purely battery-powered model like the Qashqai's Ariya big brother, or the facility to charge one at home.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“While new for Europe e-Power technology has already been proven in the Japanese market”
Nissan generally scores well on reliability surveys and, although the new Qashqai is built on a fresh platform and engines, there’s little reason to fear that will change. While new for Europe e-Power technology has already been proven in the Japanese market, where Nissan has enjoyed real success with it. The warranty is, meanwhile, the industry standard three years and 60,000 miles, though rivals from the likes of Renault, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia all offer more cover. If that’s a concern you can pay extra to extend the warranty as the initial three-year term comes to an end.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“All the latest driver assistance tech is hard-wired in and even the entry-level model is generously equipped”
Driver assistance technology is coming on leaps and bounds and the new Qashqai benefits here from being on an all-new platform, rather than just an updated version of an existing one. That means all the latest driver assistance tech is hard-wired in and even the entry-level model is generously equipped with automatic emergency braking for pedestrians, cyclists and junctions, steering tweaks to keep you in your lane and prevent you steering into vehicles in your blindspot, ‘intelligent’ cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic braking for hazards when reversing and rear cross traffic alert.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“Like many of its type there are some pretty big blindspots, which can make manoeuvring and edging out at junctions tricky”
Crossovers look trendy but the big wheels and tall stance typically compromise ride quality compared with regular hatchbacks. Credit to Nissan for managing to overcome that and make the Qashqai ride way better than pretty much any rival in the sector, thanks in no small part to the fact it was developed here in the UK on our particularly demanding and bumpy roads.
It feels pretty big and substantial from the inside too. Some drivers may find that intimidating in busy urban driving, though the flipside is of course the sense of security people appreciate in SUVs and crossovers. Like many of its type there are some pretty big blindspots, which can make manoeuvring and edging out at junctions tricky. But it’s no worse than any other in this respect.
The driver and front-seat passenger have plenty of room, higher trim levels gaining improved lumbar support and even massage functions. The rear is also pretty good for legroom thanks to an increase in wheelbase length over the previous Qashqai and access has been improved with doors that open wider than before to make it easier to load child seats and strap little ones into them, though you'll be needing to bag a coveted 'parent and child' space to really benefit. The central seat on the bench is a little lumpy and headroom isn’t massive for full-size passengers, however. The boot is a good size, if a little shallow. There is a false floor with a bit more space underneath and the clever, multi-configurable dividers have been updated with a full-width wipe clean surface on the reverse in response to customer feedback.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“The most popular trim levels by far are the N-Connecta, Tekna and luxurious Tekna+, and this is where you start getting the kit you actually want”
At the time of writing Nissan hasn’t confirmed on which trim levels e-Power will be available with but, using the standard Qashqai as a guide, the basic trim level hits an affordable price point and includes all the safety tech but is otherwise pretty sparsely equipped. The most popular trim levels by far are the N-Connecta, Tekna and luxurious Tekna+, and this is where you start getting the kit you actually want. This includes improved trim, a fully digital and configurable instrument cluster, a bigger central screen with connected infotainment and navigation and wireless CarPlay or Android Auto. The top trim line feels properly lavish, thanks to soft leather upholstery and a thumping Bose stereo, and is a nice indulgence but you don’t necessarily need to go that far to score a well-equipped Qashqai.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid SUV
“The instant response off the line is like that of an electric car, as is the smoothness”
Confusingly the e-Power Qashqai is driven by its electric motor but still has a petrol engine working as a generator for the onboard battery. Unlike on regular hybrids there is no physical connection between the two, so the internal combustion engine (ICE) does not power the wheels. To avoid that disconcerting sensation where revs rise and fall with no apparently link to how fast you’re going Nissan has carefully tuned the system to mimic the responses of a regular ICE car or hybrid, so although it’s the electric motor powering you it’s the petrol one you hear. Most of the time it’s neat enough that you don’t notice, though the instant response off the line is like that of an electric car, as is the smoothness. Performance is probably about comparable with the regular ICE Qashqai but response and refinement are better, as is efficiency. In theory the system means EV performance combined with an ICE car's freedom from range anxiety, Nissan hoping it's enough to help buyers with the transition to fully electrified driving.
Indeed, around town the Qashqai e-Power can cruise for short distances without the petrol engine and works just like a full EV. But it’ll only do this for a mile or two, and even then only on a very, very gentle throttle. As perfected on the Leaf, the selectable e-Pedal Step system offers near ‘one-pedal’ operation where you simply lift off the throttle and slow using battery charging regeneration rather than via the brakes. Unlike some systems it won’t bring you to a complete halt, though, so you still need to move your foot to the brake to come to a complete standstill.