Exclusive and transitional. This is how Nissan, the Japanese manufacturer that is part of the Franco-Asian Alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, defines e-Power technology, which finally arrives in Europe. In Japan, the system has been on the market since 2017, used on two models, with considerable success. One of the two is the compact Note, no longer listed in the Old Continent, best seller in the land of the Rising Sun. It is an exclusive propulsion because the 140 kW electric unit is the only one to push on the wheels: on the new generation of the Qashqai crossover the drive is front, while on the next X-Trail it will also be integral. The energy produced by the heat engine goes to the inverter and from this it can be transmitted to the battery, to the electric unit or to both.
The three-cylinder petrol engine, which in Europe is a 1.5-liter 158 HP supercharged engine, more powerful than the thousand-two used in Japan, acts exclusively as an energy generator for the small 1.8 kWh battery. It means that the real zero-emission range is between 2 and 3 kilometers, but that the driver does not have the anxiety of refueling because the accumulator cannot even be recharged with the plug. Years ago Opel had launched the Ampera with a similar system, although the battery could also have been refueled on tap, but the model had had a short life. A similar solution was then relaunched by Ford for commercial vehicles and also taken up by Audi for the SUV with which it returned to the Dakar and with which it won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in recent days.
In short, no one had until now used the combustion engine exclusively as a generator. However, even Nissan believes this is an option destined “only” to accompany the turn towards electrification: the e-Power strategy is in fact an alternative to the plug-in strategy of Renault and Mitsubishi and is in fact transitional.
The Spanish test drive is on the track, on the Jarama circuit near Madrid, because the crossovers are pre-series. Just under twenty kilometers to realize that even if the drive is only electric, the acoustics of the heat engine do not change too much.
Perhaps, however, the effect of driving on the track is deceiving: because there is no one else and therefore other benchmarks are missing, but when you push hard on the accelerator, the noise bounces into the passenger compartment. Response is smooth and the petrol unit engages smoothly. By crossing the data on estimated fuel consumption and tank capacity, an autonomy approaching 1,040 kilometers is obtained. One of the British technicians present on the circuit ensures that he has covered them respecting speed limits and along a mixed track.
A specific control unit optimized the energy flows based on parameters such as the state of charge of the battery, the driving conditions and the demand for motive power. The acceleration is interesting and the 330 Nm of torque ensure the now “classic” progression of electric vehicles. The manufacturer, who had anticipated e-Power technology in Europe at least 4 years ago, justified the long transfer times with the need to adapt the system to the needs of European customers, especially in terms of thrust and power.
Those who opt for this variant (the Qashqai will also remain in the list as a mild hybrid from 140 or 158 HP even with four-wheel drive with 6-speed manual gearbox or new Xtronic) will also be able to take advantage of the e-Pedal Step: by activating this function and removing the foot off the gas, the crossover will slow down significantly, but only up to 10 km / h.
Aesthetically, the model is distinguished by the specific logo, but also by the wider black band above the grille, the size of which indicates the degree of electrification of the new Nissan models.
NISSAN QASHQAI e-POWER – the card
What is that: is the first model marketed by Nissan in Europe equipped with the e-Power system that the Japanese manufacturer presented on the domestic market as early as 2016. It is a transition technology of which Nissan claims the exclusivity that will also be offered on the X- Trail, for which it will be the only motorization. It is a two-motor technology: the thermal one only powers the battery that supplies energy to the electric unit, the only one that transfers the thrust to the wheels.
Dimensions: 4.42 meters (length), 1.83 (width), 1.62 (height), 2.66 (step).
Rivals: Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass,
Engines: Compared to the e-Power system used in Japan on the smaller Note (1.2-liter petrol engine and 95 kWh electric), the technology used in Europe is based on a 1.5-liter 158 HP three-cylinder VCR petrol turbo and unit electric 190 hp and 330 Nm of torque. Estimated fuel consumption (homologation not yet available) is 5.3 l / 100 km.
Reservoir: 55 liters, the same as the model that mounts only the conventional engine, so much so that autonomy could exceed 1,000 kilometers because of the estimated fuel consumption (there is no definitive homologation yet).
Production: Sunderland (United Kingdom)
Prices: the manufacturer has not provided any indication about the price list, which should in any case be made official in the coming weeks. However, the price should be competitive compared to that of similar vehicles powered by diesel engines. The hypothesis is around 35,000 euros.