Nissan Qashqai electronic energy test: an existential crisis

After its success in Japan, electronic power technology comes to Europe with Qashqai. A transitional solution to an all-electric system that has everything to build, with little to no delay.

Launched in 2012, the Nissan Note has been unable to achieve top sales in its home territory, leaving the Toyota Prius and Aqua (Prius C in other markets) to share the cake and icing. But Yokohama quickly discovered the secret to this success, and in 2016 unveiled the e-Power, a unique hybrid technology.

Always invested in his philosophy Zero emissionsThe Japanese brand has developed a system in which only the electric motor drives the wheels, charging the internal combustion engine to act as a generator. First try and a masterful hit: The Nissan Note in the slump regains its momentum and rises to first place in all classes (except kei cars) for two years in a row, just before retiring. It took until 2019 to see the first glimmer of this technology for Europe, when Nissan introduced the IMQ concept, which then foretold the Qashqai e-Power. Years later, the compact SUV, which he succeeded sensei Named, is a fact for us.

Like an electrician in the city

However, the brand’s engineers worked on revising their version. Instead of being fit for an urban minivan and finally meeting the expectations of Japanese drivers, the first iteration is from the test lab (although the look is quite similar to the new generation Note). From now on, the small engine gave way to a complex turbo unit with a variable compression ratio by a mechanical actuator. The power supply scheme is similar with the presence of a generator, inverter, battery and electric motor from Japan, but it has not been deployed in a branded car according to officials.

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It is the latter, with a maximum power of 190 hp and a torque of 330 Nm, which takes care of directly turning the wheels, as in any electric car. So there is no clutch or gearbox. In the city or at low load, electric traction takes precedence. This is conditional on the battery charge rate, which allows an operating range of 25 to 75%, and the power requirements, since the unit can produce only 60 kW (80 hp) of power.

With the two conditions met, we were able to travel 3.6 km on the single-power electric motor without exceeding 60 km/h and without using regeneration. In the city, it will be necessary to expect less, since the speeds of this SUV of 1700 kg will necessarily be energy-intensive. For perfect peaceful, zero-emissions developments, an electronic pedal system has been added to mode B. As in the Leaf, it effectively promotes regenerative braking. But if the name of the button is the same, it is precisely the step of the new electronic pedal, which does not stop: it slows the car to about 5-10 km / h before it puts its levers. The goal here is to improve movements at low speeds (such as when standing still), by preventing the system from applying too much and too abruptly to the brakes.

Electronic power from Nissan Qashqai that masters its vocals

While electric motor interventions disappear in classic hybrids (like in Toyotas), they remain almost always attached to the wheels. Because it is the heat engine that starts to plug the power deficit by providing a maximum of 110 kW at the generator output. During this stage, the battery can also be recharged with excess energy, which in most cases is.

Depending on the needs, it automatically sets the optimum rotational speed to produce the current necessary for the correct operation of the system. But while the Nissan Note lags between engine speed and throttle position/speed, the Qashqai is here equipped with line melody, which makes it possible to change cycles more smoothly. It’s like a codec that corrects the gap between sound and picture. In practice, the sensation is actually less annoying than before. Under heavy loads, acceleration is inevitable, but it’s still roughly in line with performance. In heavy use, the shift is more pronounced, but the sounds are less audible from the planetary transmission.

A little laziness on the covers

The Nissan Qashqai e-Power shines through with elaborate sound insulation, at least between the engine compartment and passenger compartment, with rolling noises on the sides and rear. paired with Active Noise Reduction, which balances some of the frequencies in the cabin with the audio system. No doubt, audiophiles and audiophiles will tell you how it works and whether it is really effective. The fact remains that the natural ear will find its calculation in slopes or during outright acceleration. But that’s where the shoe gets pinched.

This mechanism is supposed to take advantage of all the immediate advantages of the electric motor, this mechanism has a response time very close to a conventional automatic transmission which is a bit lazy. As soon as the accelerator pedal is depressed at a constant speed, the battery very quickly reaches its maximum power. This is where the heat engine has to do its job. But its mechanical system requires a period of adaptation to change the compression ratio. This then results in a slight lag during pickup operations, which doesn’t really allow it to do better than its 158 hp light-hybrid counterpart: we measured 80-120 km/h in 6.1 seconds, without the useless Sport mode being able to achieve It significantly improved performance (-0.2 seconds).

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During a fairly convenient mixed road in terms of comfort and speed of development, we noticed an average consumption of 5.4 l / 100 km. Or equivalent to his WLTP consumption, also given for 123 g/km CO2. On the highway, where the flow of energy from the heat engine is constant, the appetite is greater. But then it will be interesting to know the excessive consumption generated on our highways, the ones we borrowed in Sweden do not exceed 110 km / h, hardly more than in Japan.

Because on this basis the electric motor is the least comfortable in terms of consumption, in contrast to the thermal mass. That is why Honda’s i-MMD system (which acts as a chain-link hybrid) connects the gasoline engine to the wheels via a multi-disc clutch between 80 and 120 km/h (the range is actually wider). What Qashqai e-Power does not do. But let’s not get into speculation for now, we will have the opportunity to take it in our favorite courses to prepare a final assessment.

Preserved inhabitable

For the rest, the Qashqai e-Power is just like the other models in the range. The CMF-CD platform was designed and developed to receive the e-Power engine, and the battery profile (located under the front seats) does not lower the interior volumes. There is a trunk from 455 to 1,582 liters, the same tank is 55 liters, and rear space is always welcome.

A small novelty in these new models with minor cosmetic changes in the cabin and the appearance of a new rectangular 12.3-inch touchscreen center display. Equipment is always complete in different trim levels. The N-Connecta finish offers only a few comfort equipment packages (heated seats, steering wheel and windshield, etc.) or technology (ProPILOT system). In the best-of-the-range Tekna + version, there are only a few stylistic options left.

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In terms of driving, the liveliness is maintained. There’s also the multi-link rear axle, which is somewhat vital for those who want to put more heart into the bends than is necessary. Comfort is of a high quality on board, but 19-inch rims will undoubtedly have to be preferred to maintain it: jerks are present at low speeds while some deformations are felt sharply on fuller roads. The steering is fairly straightforward on the roads, but the steering angle is important in the city.

Nissan Qashqai e-Power: results

Like the Nissan Note, the Qashqai e-Power is in the midst of an existential crisis, navigating between the definition of an electric range extender and a hybrid, depending on which features you want to highlight. However, when driving, its maturity necessary to win over European customers makes it more hybrid than ever, both on the gray card (EH class), and when driving. Marketing rhetoric is also timid, although Nissan does not hesitate to mention 1,000 km of autonomy or the idea of ​​non-rechargeable electric.

In the city, we definitely find all the smoothness and silence of zero-emissions traction operation. But it is difficult to consider it an electric car, since it is only 3 km and within the limit of 81 hp, before it saves thermal heat. At higher speeds, the instantaneous fades away. In any case, we will have to play a rematch on a long journey to gauge its true consumption. Because this is where it will have to prove itself, to make people forget the diesel that contributed to the smashing success of the SUV, taking customers towards 100% electric. Big task then.

While waiting for Honda’s next ZR-V likely to take over the Civic to fill the gap between the HR-V and CR-V, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power should essentially do away with the Toyota CH-R. But we should not forget either the new Kia Niro HEV entering the sector with a length of 4.42 m in the style of Qashqai: equipped with the usual hybrid mechanics and more traditional driving sensations, it attacks at 31,790 euros, when it is necessary to count from 38,200 euros for the Japanese. Which sometimes equates to the top of the range of its competitors!

  • elegant soundproofing
  • hooded electronic pedal model
  • Correct residence permit
  • generous equipment

  • electric motor comfort
  • Response time in retries
  • traditional cabin
  • salty price list

Want to learn more about ePower technology? See you tomorrow morning at 8am for a full article on how it works!

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