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Nissan Qashqai e-Power 2023 review

The Nissan Qashqai e-Power isn't your average electric car - because it runs on petrol.
EXPERT RATING
8.4
Nissan is bringing a whole new kind of hybrid to market with the Qashqai e-Power. It drives like an EV, with a battery and an electric motor turning the wheels, but it gets its power from an internal-combustion engine, and you never have to plug it in. Is this the gateway drug to EVs that Australians have been looking for?

Just because you don’t always do the right thing doesn’t make you lazy. Sure, you might really want to buy an EV, but it does sound like a lot of work - right? Nissan’s research shows that while people nominate concerns about range as one of the big things putting them off, right up next to that complaint is “I just don’t want to have to plug it in”. 

There are other options, of course, unexciting mild hybrids and PHEVs, but you have to plug those in as well. Couldn’t someone just invent a car that feels and drives like an electric vehicle, saves the environment by using less fuel, yet never has to be plugged in or recharged, and still uses petrol, which is just so conveniently and widely available? 

Yes, it sounds like a radical kind of fast food that you can eat lots of without getting fat, but just because it seems unlikely doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t do it.

And now Nissan has, in the alluring shape of the new Qashqai e-Power. It’s a hybrid, Jim, but not as we know it. It’s got a battery, a generator, an electric motor, an inverter and a three-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-litre engine. But that internal-combustion, petrol-powered engine doesn’t have anything to do with turning the wheels - it’s just the power station that makes the electricity to run your Qashqai, which works, and drives, very much like an EV, but one that never needs plugging in, and still runs on petrol.

You could call it the car of the near future, or a car for lazy people who mean well, Nissan would prefer to call it the gateway to EV ownership, or “the last car you’ll need to buy before you buy a full EV”. 

The Qashqai is genuinely new, undeniably interesting and at least a little remarkable, but is the e-Power any good? We went all the way to Sweden, a country that loves speed cameras even more than Victoria, to find out.

 

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

It's quite easy to compare the looks of the new Qashqai to older ones, anywhere you go, because Nissan has sold a whopping 5.5 million of them since 2007.

  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.
  • This Qashqai is a fine looking machine. This Qashqai is a fine looking machine.

There are certainly plenty of them on the roads in Sweden and we got loads of admiring looks from owners of older variants as we made the countryside prettier in the new one.

It really is an impressive, Goldilocks-sized machine, with refined and almost-European design touches. The sharpness of some of the lines, and the slight busy-ness at the rear, give a sense of its Japanese origins, but over all it's a beautifully resolved design.

Put it this way, I don't like looking at SUVs, but I'd happily look at this one in my driveway.

The side profile is particularly sleek and modern, and so far removed from the disturbing looks of the Juke that it could almost come from a different company.

The big powerful 'V' nose is a particular highlight, and this Qashqai is a fine looking machine. The only change the e-Power version makes to the whole look are two little badges.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

There's a real sense of family sized space inside the new and more grown-up Qashqai range. In the past I might have argued that a Qashqai was too small for a growing family like mine, but I feel like this one would be a lot closer to doing the job.

  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.
  • There's a real sense of family sized space inside. There's a real sense of family sized space inside.

The Qashqai is classed as a small SUV, but it feels more like a biggish one. That's because the new Qashqai has grown in all dimensions, with this version measuring 4425mm long, 1835mm wide, 1625mm tall and sitting on a 2665mm wheelbase.

Head and shoulder-room are also impressive, front and rear, and there’s even plenty of legroom in the back.

  • Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres. Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres.
  • Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres. Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres.
  • Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres. Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres.
  • Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres. Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres.
  • Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres. Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres.

Boot space measures a sizeable 504 litres - Stow the split-fold 60/40 second-row seats down, and space swells to 1593L.

Inside, you’ll find a whopping 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Inside, you’ll find a whopping 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen.

Inside, you’ll find a whopping 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless and wired Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, digital radio and satellite navigation. And a clear and clever 10.8-inch head up display with mapping. Storage options range from a bottle-swallowing door bin, two large cupholders, a wireless smartphone tray, and a deep, two-tiered, underarm cubby.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

In terms of pricing, we don’t know yet what number will be attached to the more traditional Qashqai range, with its petrol engines, so it’s hard to speculate about what the e-Power version will cost. 

What we do know is that it will sit at the top of the range, possibly with two variants, and priced above the normal combustion engined Qashqais.

We’d be guessing an entry price for the e-Power somewhere north of $40,000, with the top-spec possibly even nudging $50,000.

The combustion engined Qashqai arrives in Australia in Q4 this year, with the e-Power expected to make it early in 2023.

The current Qashqai starts at $28,590, before on-road costs, but that’s for the entry-level manual, which will no longer be offered with this new-generation Qashqai.

That means pricing could jump up to around $34,000, and could stretch all the way to about $44,000.

But buyers will be compensated with a long list of standard kit.

Standard equipment on the 2022 Qashqai includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 7.0-inch digital instrument display, cloth interior, push-button start, and an 8.0-inch multimedia colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Stepping up to the ST+ adds 18-wheel wheels, rain-sensing wipers, LED fog lamps and a 9.0-inch multimedia unit with wireless Apple CarPlay and satellite navigation.

Buyers opting for the ST-L will be treated to 19-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, part-leather seat trim, a wireless smartphone charger, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and auto high beam.

But the top-of-the-range 2022 Qashqai, known as the Ti, similar to the one we have on test, scores all the fruit, adding a panoramic glass roof, powered tailgate, leather interior, massive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.8-inch head-up display and a 10-speaker Bose sound system.

The most expensive variant of the Qashqai basically has everything you’d want in a new car in 2022, but it’s great to see even entry-level Qashqais still get important tech like smartphone mirroring.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?   9/10

The e-Power system combines a three-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine, a generator and a 140kW electric motor that’s similar to what you’d find in a Nissan Leaf EV.

And, just like an EV, it doesn’t have a gearbox, just a single gear, for smooth, uninterrupted acceleration.

The petrol engine’s job is to act as a power plant, making electricity, via a generator, which can then be sent, via an inverter, to the battery pack, or the electric motor, or both at once, depending on the situation.

But at no stage does the petrol engine ever turn the wheels.

The goal, says Nissan, was to create a car that provides the instant, linear and smooth response you get from electric vehicles, without the hassle of having to recharge.

It also promises around 1000km of range (we saw 986km at start-up), a figure well beyond any current EV.

Nissan also puit a dig in at “traditional hybrids”, pointing out that its e-Power means you don’t have to “accept the inherent shortcomings of the driving experience” that come with other versions of the technology.

What they’re pointing to is the fact that other hybrids sometimes feel a bit confused about which power source is doing what, and the feeling of hesitation and ineptitude is only made worse by the common use of droning CVT gearboxes. Again, the ePower Qashqai makes do without one of those.

Will you still feel like you’re saving the planet, though? Well that all comes down to the fuel economy, and we’ll get to that, but it’s safe to say it won’t be zero. You can, of course, drive in EV only mode around town, for short periods, to further reduce your fuel use.

How much energy does it consume?   8/10

The fuel figure is unusually important with the e-Power. If you’re going to buy this variant, surely, at some level, you’re doing it to reduce your carbon footprint. Although not as much as an actual EV

Nissan claims the Qashqai e-Power will average 5.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, with CO2 outputs of 119g/km. 

We drove various cars over our day in Sweden - a place where people drive as if there’s a speed camera hiding around every bend, because there usually is - and we found our economy figures were pretty much bang on in the mid fives.

A brief bit of enthusiastic acceleration testing pushed that up to 7.0 litres per 100km on one drive, but if you drove this Qashqai ePower the way hybrids are intended - using EV-only mode in the city for example - you could probably better the claimed figure a lot of the time.

Nissan's engineers said they'd been averaging high fours and low fives driving the same route we'd taken, and looked genuinely horrified at the 7.0L/100km figure.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

So, there's quite a lot to think about when you take a whole new tech for a drive, as we're doing here in the Qashqai e-Power, but what you notice first of all is that it starts up like an EV, or a more normal hybrid, and that you notice almost 1000km of range on the dash.

The overall feeling of the Qashqai is one of solidity, class and quietness. The overall feeling of the Qashqai is one of solidity, class and quietness.

No range anxiety there, then. You also notice you have two fuel gauges, a traditional one and a battery charge one.

What you don't notice, or not all the time, is the sound of the engine kicking in, the way you do in some hybrids, where it can be insistent and annoying. At times, watching the power-flow meter is the only way you can tell whether the engine is operating.

This is not only because it's generally only running at about 1500rpm, but because Nissan's engineers wanted the cabin to feel as much like an EV as possible - quiet, smooth, effortless - so they event went to the trouble of tuning a noise-cancellation system to take out the engine sound as much as possible.

Put your foot down hard, of course, and you will hear it, and one clever touch is what Nissan calls “Linear Tune”. Basically, if you accelerate hard and the engine needs to kick in to send more power to the inverter, quickly, it always revs appropriately. The petrol engine’s revs match your road speed, even though, logically, they might not always neeed to, as you’re pulling power out of the battery anyway. But Nissan wanted it to feel normal to the driver, and it works.

As they were quick to point out, it's a lot better than the droning noise you get from a CVT. The e-Power has just one gear, like an EV, so it's much smoother.

The overall feeling is one of solidity, class and quietness. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel and while it’s no sports car, there’s plenty to enjoy about the driving experience.

  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.
  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.
  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.
  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.
  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.
  • The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel. The Qashqai rides well, it corners nice and flat with good feedback through the wheel.

However, Nissan claims that it has the kind of instant torque response from zero rpm that makes EVs so much fun to drive, but the more I drove it, the more I noticed that the full 330Nm doesn’t feel like it really kicks in until about 20-30km/h. 

Off the line it’s a tiny bit slow - there's a moment of almost nothingness, of thinking time - at least compared to an EV, but in the mid range it has that familiar electric punch, and the lack of any gear changes makes acceleration linear and enjoyable.

Once that initial inertia is overcome, it pulls quite strongly from 20km/h up to 100km/h, achieving the 0-100 sprint in a claimed 7.9 seconds.

We spent a lot of time worrying about our fuel economy and watching closely what it was doing, which power source was going where, but the over all impression was that e-Power just works. It's a smooth, quiet and accomplished driving experience that delivers good fuel-economy figures in real world driving.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Qashqai was crash tested in Europe and received a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2021, but it is yet to be ANCAP tested.

It scored highly in the adult and child occupant protection tests with a 91 per cent result, but truly excelled in the safety assist category.

Nissan Australia has locked in standard safety gear for local ICE Qashqais, which we can expect to turn up in ePower as well. It includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, rear AEB, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention alert, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Like all new Nissan’s sold in Australia, the 2022 Qashqai comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist over that period, and we can expect the ePower variants to enjoy the same offer.

Like all new Nissan’s sold in Australia, the 2022 Qashqai comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Like all new Nissan’s sold in Australia, the 2022 Qashqai comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

What is yet to be confirmed by Nissan Australia is the warranty cover for the battery and high voltage components. On the Nissan Leaf EV, the warranty spans eight years/160,000km for those bits, but in Europe the e-Power Qashqai's battery warranty is less, at five years/160,000km.

Scheduled service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first, but Nissan is yet to reveal pricing.

However, there will be capped-price servicing for the new Qashqai. For context, each service for the outgoing car costs an average of around $300.

Verdict

If you really like the way EVs feel, and the quiet driving experience they provide, but you hate the idea of having to worry about charging, you're going to love this new e-Power option from Nissan. Whether you'll be will to pay the extra for a Qashqai with the tech, when we know much that is, remains to be seen.

EXPERT RATING
8.4
Design9
Practicality9
Price and features7
Drivetrain9
Efficiency8
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership8
Stephen Corby
Contributing Journalist

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