Puzzling car this new Qashqai. Take the badge for instance, e-Power.
You could be forgiven for thinking this is an electric car – e for electric.
Except it’s not, well maybe a bit.
Time to get to the point. This Qashqai has a petrol engine but it does not drive the wheels, that is the job of the electric motor, that is powered by a battery that is kept topped up by the engine.
All of which makes the e-Power a very interesting car, a halfway house to full electric without the worry of range anxiety.
Is this the way forward? Nissan is certain it is and is not interested in developing plug-in hybrid vehicles. Arnand Charpentier, the company’s product strategy expert said e-Power “is a better solution that can also educate the customer ready for a full electric vehicle.”
So another milestone in the Qashqai’s remarkable story. For me it is the most significant car of the 21st century so far, starting a trend that has consumed the car industry for nearly two decades.
Nissan named the car after the Qashqai tribe who live in the mountainous regions of Iran. Maybe they thought if the car was a failure at least everyone would remember the name. Well it didn’t fail and is still the UK’s best selling crossover SUV even though there are around 30 more just like it.
The e-Power model is a late edition to the third generation Qashqai and is odds on to become the best seller. It is a couple of grand dearer than a standard petrol but makes so much sense. I enjoy driving electric cars, my car of 2023 is the BYD Seal, but I am not ready to go down that road yet.
This seems like a decent compromise. A car driven by an electric motor but without the worry of running out of battery before finding a charging station. The turbocharged engine is nearly always purring away in the background and the most I managed on electric only power was two miles before the engine seamlessly stirred back into life to keep the battery pack topped up.
There is also help from regenerative braking provided by the e-pedal. When selected the car slows when you lift off the accelerator, generating power for the batteries, and, once you get used to it, providing a smoother drive because there is no need to hit the brake pedal saving on pad and disc wear.
It slows the car to a 4mph creep rather than a dead stop which would be better, just like the Volvo system.
As the car gets its power from an electric motor acceleration is brisk and feels quicker than the official sixty dash time with smooth changes through the six speed automatic gearbox. Nissan reckon 53mpg and I only missed the target by 3mpg over nearly 600 miles. The car’s long term computer record covering nearly 1,000 miles showed 49.7mpg so this is no idle boast.
Inside has been given a total revamp with the driver’s digital binnacle full of information selected from a steering wheel switch along with an excellent head up display detailing speed, navigation instructions, and speed limits.
There is a clear set of switches to control the heating with all other major functions accessed through a new 12.3 inch touchscreen with superbly clear graphics for navigation and the crystal clear all round camera.
My Tekna model is near the top end of the range and has a spec sheet as long as your arm. My favourite is the heated windscreen, all cars should have one. Driver safety aids are plentiful as well.
Qashqai does not need to prove itself to anyone. It is an astonishing success story as well as providing thousands of jobs at the Sunderland plant where it is going to be built for a long time to come after the promise of further investment.
It has always managed to stay ahead of the game and is really on the front foot with the e-Power model.
Qashqai e-Power Tekna
1.5 litre turbo petrol; 188bhp
1.97kWh battery and electric motor
0-62mph 7.9secs; 105mph
120g/km. First tax £210
Boot: 455-1379 litres
Insurance group 26