New Nissan Qashqai e-Power 2022 review
We try the Qashqai e-Power with its clever full-hybrid powertrain on UK roads in well-specced Tekna trim, and come away mostly impressed
After driving it in the UK for the first time, the Qashqai e-Power remains our preferred version of Nissan’s big-selling crossover, providing an impressive, EV-like driving experience that makes up for more lacklustre powertrains in the range. The cabin and its tech are a little way off the best in class, however, and this highly specced Tekna-trimmed car is expensive.
The Nissan Qashqai e-Power does things rather differently from other full or self-charging hybrid cars. The battery is bigger than the norm at 2.1kWh (a Toyota C-HR has a 1.3kWh unit, for comparison), and it’s kept topped up by a 1.5-litre inline-three combustion engine which never directly powers the wheels.
It’s an unusual engine, too. Nissan calls it ‘VC Turbo’, with those first two letters standing for Variable Compression. Rather than using conventional connecting rods, the pistons are joined to the crankshaft via motor-driven, multi-link devices which vary the top and bottom dead centre positions of the pistons. The idea is the engine can then adopt a high compression state for more performance, or low compression to improve fuel economy.
With that clever inline-three busying itself with charging the battery, propulsion is taken care of via a single front-mounted motor, and a fairly punchy one at that, outputting 187bhp and 300Nm. That’s enough for a respectable 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.
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Sure enough, the Qashqai e-Power builds speed at a decent rate, feeling reasonably brisk in the process. But most importantly, it gets up to motorway and dual carriageway speeds smoothly, and it's this smoothness that generally characterises the way this powertrain goes about its business.
The benefit of only giving the engine one job in an electrified car while doing away with the transmission is you avoid the sometimes clunky transitions you can get in other hybrids as power sources are juggled. Instead, the combustion side of the equation here merely turns on and off as required, and does so seamlessly - on the move, even with the crisp audio system turned down low, you often don’t notice.
In stop/start traffic, it’s much more obvious, particularly as it sounds like the engine runs at a higher RPM than the average idle speed when you’re sitting still or moving slowly. It’s not as bad for passing vibrations into the cabin as many other inline-three engines, however, and the triple is refined when more is demanded of it.
It helps that the Qashqai e-Power has something called ‘Linear Tune’, which ties the engine speed with the road speed. And so, although there is a CVT-like quality to the engine response under harder acceleration, its revs don’t rise and fall erratically as we sometimes experience in cars with such transmissions.
Nissan is pitching this car as a stepping stone for those not quite ready to make the transition to electric, and sure enough, it does often feel like a full EV rather than a hybrid. Helping in this regard is the ‘I-Pedal’ feature, which increases the energy regeneration when the driver lifts off. It’s not a true ‘one-pedal’ mode as you’d find in the brand’s fully electric Ariya and Leaf, as it will only slow the car to a crawl speed. To trim off the last couple of mph, you’ll need to be use the brake pedal. It’s easier to get used to than a lot of similar systems, though.
There is also an EV mode which prioritises electric power, although it’s only of use at lower speeds with minimal throttle inputs - it doesn’t take much for the car to automatically switch back to the hybrid mode, and at higher speeds, the car will refuse to select the mode.
The e-Power spends more than half of the WLTP emissions cycle with the engine switched off, giving healthy official figures of 53.3mpg and 119g/km of CO2. Curiously, the best we could manage in a heavily-congested urban environment - where this set-up should, in theory, shine the brightest - was 44mpg, and it wasn’t until we escaped the city that the figure climbed to around 47mpg.
Along with engine noise, the Qashqai keeps occupants well cocooned from wind and road noise. The ride is mostly smooth on UK roads, with a sophisticated feeling to the damping, but the going can get a little brittle at lower speeds, particularly over speed bumps. The 19-inch wheels of our Tekna-trimmed model probably didn’t help - it’s probably worth swerving the range-topping Tekna+ Qashqai e-Power just to avoid the 20-inch rims fitted to that version.
On twistier roads, the Qashqai performs competently, but is unremarkable to drive. The steering has a nice weight to it but delivers next to nothing in the way of feedback. Hard cornering reveals a generous serving of body roll and some understeer, although the smooth delivery of the motor at least means the front end isn’t left scrabbling for traction under hard acceleration. There is a ‘Sport’ mode, but it makes little noticeable difference to the driving experience, save for adding some weight to the power steering. Keener drivers are better off with alternatives including the Seat Ateca.
Nissan has done a solid job of upping the premium feel inside the Qashqai, and this Tekna version comes with plenty of equipment including a comprehensive head-up display, the larger 12.3-inch ‘Nissan Connect’ touchscreen infotainment system, a powered rear tailgate and a whole host of driver assistance features.
The quality is okay, but we did have an odd issue with water ingress in the passenger footwell. At the time of writing, the car was on its way back to Nissan’s UK press garage for an investigation.
We’d like more responsiveness from the infotainment system, which isn’t as slick as the set-up found in the Kia Sportage, which has a generally more modern cabin. By contrast, the Qashqai’s interior design already looks a touch dated, and the much more radical cabin of Nissan’s Ariya hasn’t done this one any favours, although admittedly the designers had more of a blank canvas there thanks to that car’s dedicated EV platform.
Practicality is unchanged from other models in the Qashqai range, which means you get 505 litres of boot space - not terrible, but plenty of others in the class including the aforementioned Kia Sportage provide more. It does have a trick up its sleeve in the form of 85-degree opening rear doors, which make it easier to load smaller children.
The e-Power is not cheap in Tekna form at £38,140. It comes as no surprise that the £35,120 N-Connecta - which keeps the key tech items of the Tekna including the larger infotainment - is expected to be the most popular version.
|Model:||Nissan Qashqai e-Power Tekna|
|Engine:||1.5-litre 3cyl turbo petrol hybrid|
Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
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