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First drive: 2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Image by Nissan.

First drive: 2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power
The Qashqai is now available with a clever petrol-electric powertrain, but does the new technology help or hinder Nissanís popular SUV.

   



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Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power
Price: From £40,980
Engine: 140kW electric motor and 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 190hp
Torque: 330Nm
Emissions: 119-123g/km
Economy: 52.3-53.3mpg
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 105mph
Boot space: 504 litres

Styling

Those looking to differentiate between the petrol-engined Qashqai and the new e-Power model will be hard pushed to tell them apart. On the face of it, nothing has changed, but if you look more closely you might spot the e-Power badges on the tailgate and lower door panels, as well as the glossy black trim on the grille. It's a feature you'll also find on the new Juke Hybrid, where Nissan claims it's used for both aerodynamic and styling purposes.

Interior

As with the interior, the e-Power's cabin is much the same as that of the petrol-powered Qashqai. There's no difference in terms of materials or technology, and the layout is identical. The only small differences include a slightly different instrument cluster and a couple of extra buttons to control the e-Power propulsion system, but that's your lot.

Not that that's such a bad thing. The Qashqai's interior might not be especially exciting, but it's solidly built, and though there are a few cheap plastics knocking about in there (especially in the back), it's quite comfortable.

The only real catch is the technology. The central touchscreen fitted to less luxurious models is serviceable without being special, and the larger screen fitted to high-end models is only marginally better, albeit a little more modern. Occasional lag and some below-par displays put it behind systems from competitor brands including Kia and Ford.

Practicality

Thereís no penalty for choosing the e-Power versions of the Qashqai over conventional petrol models Ė at least not where practicality is concerned. Thereís much the same level of interior space, with adequate room in the back and ample space in the front, as well as a similarly sized boot. Measuring just over 500 litres with the rear seats upright, itíll be more than big enough for most customersí needs, and folding down the seats frees up an even more cavernous space.

Performance

The Qashqai e-Power is propelled by a clever system that combines an electric motor and a petrol engine, but isnít a hybrid. Instead, itís better to think of this as an electric car with its own on-board power station. Thatís because the 1.5-litre petrol engine is never used to drive the wheels, but it is used to charge the little lithium-ion battery. Thereís no plugging in; you just fill up with petrol as you normally would.

According to Nissan, this car is a kind of halfway house for those not yet ready to go fully electric, but itís also the most powerful Qashqai on the market right now. With 190hp, itís the fastest to 62mph (everything is relative), but itís also marginally more efficient than the mild-hybrid petrol options, returning just over 50mpg.

Detractors, however, would say thatís a small improvement Ė our test drive suggested the e-Power would barely be more efficient than a petrol Qashqai on a long run Ė for the extra outlay. And for those who drive around town most of the time, a long-range plug-in hybrid such as the Suzuki Across might be a better bet.

All that said, the e-Power system is refined around town, when the petrol engine does very little work, and the e-Pedal regenerative braking system makes it easy to drive once you have the hang of it. But again, there are plenty of plug-in hybrids about which you could say the same thing.

Ride & Handling

Although the e-Power drive system might be substantially different to that of the more conventional Qashqai models, the driving experience is not. The ride is generally pretty good, with the suspension soaking up all but the worst potholes. However, thereís something gritty and granular about the way the car rides on even smooth surfaces, giving it a slightly unsettled feel.

And the handling is no different, either, with numb and light steering that means youíre unlikely to get too excited about the prospect of driving this car quickly. But then it isnít designed to go quickly Ė Nissan itself admits this is a car for urban and suburban customers. So the company has set the e-Power up for city streets, where light steering makes the car feel nimble and manoeuvrable.

Value

Qashqai e-Power prices start at £32,940, which makes the newbie considerably more expensive than a basic petrol-engined Qashqai. But it isn't that simple. Because the e-Power system is only available on mid-range Acenta Premium models and the more expensive N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ models, the price difference is a smidge under £2,000. And standard equipment is essentially identical to that of the petrol-powered Qashqai, so there's no penalty on that front.

Verdict

To make the Qashqai e-Power work, you'll need to have a very specific set of circumstances. Many customers will be better off with a petrol-powered Qashqai or even a plug-in hybrid from some other manufacturer. But for those who fit the criteria, having nowhere to charge and driving mostly in an urban environment, the e-Power will make some sense. And because it still has all the qualities that make the Qashqai so popular, it should prove satisfactory to own.



James Fossdyke - 26 Jul 2022



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2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Image by Nissan.2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power. Image by Nissan.







 

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