We all know it too well: Battery powered full EV’s are just wonderful to drive, seducing you with their stream of vibrationless, quiet and instant EV power.
We also realize however that at least in Belgium and also in several European countries the public charging infrastructure seems to be still in its infancy, and when you don’t have a house with a driveway with your own charging unit, you can forget about fully enjoying your EV for private use.
Indeed, apartment or condominium inhabitants can also better look elsewhere: beefing up the power circuit in de building meets much resistance from the owners, and they also find the potential fire hazard of an EV car in their underground garage rather too big.
So if you want to sell a car to a wide public which wants to enjoy the EV smoothness, without the recharging troubles, then it is wise to develop a car such as this Qashqai “e-power.”
The Nissan engineers indeed took the hybrid concept a step further: the petrol engine, here a 1,5 litre three cylinder unit, just generates electricity and the wheels are therefore only driven by an electric motor. Does it all work fine? Just read on…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Full Hybrid the Nissan way…
Let’s tell it right away, this is definitely one of the very smoothest hybrids I have ever driven. Indeed, total EV smoothness is achieved as there is only the electric motor powering the car. This electric motor is good for 140 kW with a torque of not less than 330 Nm. So this Qashqai is indeed well powered, as the performance figures clearly show. This Nissan will accelerate smoothly from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,9 seconds, reaching an electronically governed top speed of 170 km/h.
The engine – the Nissan KR15DDT unit , a 1498 cm3 3 cylinder unit with direct injection, DOHC and CVTCS (Continuously Variable Timing Control System), is very well insulated and indeed is almost inaudible, adding greatly to the pleasant feel of driving a fully fledged EV. Just for the record, it develops 116 kW / 158 PS / at 4600 rpm, torque is 250 Nm between 2400 and 4400 rpm.
Nissan also names this engine ‘VC Turbo’, with those first two letters standing for Variable Compression. The engineers went to very great lengths: instead of conventional connecting rods, the pistons are joined to the crankshaft through motor-driven, multi-link devices which vary the top and bottom dead centre positions of the pistons. This allows to adopt a high compression when performance is wanted, or low compression to improve fuel economy. Soo clever!
But how about fuel efficiency and consumption? As there are invariably losses in the drivetrain in the generation of the electric energy, you are well advised to adopt a smooth driving style, driving with anticipation in order to save as much kinetic energy as possible. The less kW the engine has to generate given a certain distance, the better it is.
Of course, the hybrid concept in this Qashqai has also efficiency gains when the urban pace is low and involves many stops.
Simply because under these circumstances the EV motor does all the work, with the combustion engine recharging the battery under ideal load and revs, computer controlled of course. Indeed, only with the advent of electronic management of the drivetrain is this possible, but this has now been the case for many years, and has already been proven millions of times. It is good to note too that the e-power Qashqai has a 2.1kWh battery, which is somewhat larger than most non plug-in hybrids.
Therefore the Qashqai can achieve good efficiency in urban traffic, where we achieved a consumption between 6 and 6,5 l/100 km. On the open road, the engine has to feed rather more the electric motor with electricity, so when speeds are moderate, say up to 100 km/h, it is still possible to stay in the 6 litres/100 km range.
It is only on the motorway at high cruising speeds that things are getting a bit awkward. The motor has then to feed the e-power to the electric motor for real, and this means averages between 7 and 7,8 l/100 km. So, what’s the verdict? EV smoothness and “zen” character of the drivetrain is yours indeed to enjoy fully, and we loved the Qashqai e-power for it. The consumption however will not break records here. You just need a very sensitive right foot and the constant awareness that developing kinetic energy costs money at the pump, and that you have to retain it as much as you can, adopting an anticipative driving style. Certainly in urban traffic the fuel economy is very creditable indeed…
You have many choices in driving this Nissan: The D-Mode lets you select between normal, power and eco, the EV button lets you use the electric motor in urban driving conditions as much as possible, and the e-pedal lets the electric motor act as a generator when you lift the throttle…
The qualities of a bestseller…
Did you know that in the UK the Qashqai is a bestseller in its segment? By the way, it is built in the Nissan factory in Sunderland, UK, where also the Juke and the Leaf roll of the production lines.
We can understand its success, as this SUV, which we tested in the Tekna top equipment version, has all the qualities to put a (broad) smile on your face. It has a very readable head-up display, a 12.3-inch ‘Nissan Connect’ touchscreen infotainment system, a powered rear tailgate and a of course many driver assistance functions. We liked the classic round dials, instrumentation buffs as we are, and also the good mix between touchscreen functions and physical knobs and levers.
It is also practical, offering you a boot space of 505 litres, and it has very wide opening doors, a boon for mothers with toddlers which have to be heaved in the baby seats.
This Nissan is very well insulated from engine and road/wheel noise, and the suspension is comfortable at speed. In urban driving situations on our Belgian inner city tram rails and ridges the suspension is rather firm, but feels never obtrusive. Of course the Tekna top equipment level leaves very little to desire indeed, including a very good sound system, which we enjoyed to the full in this marvelously quiet car.
This Qashqai really convinced us by combining the wonderful qualities of EV driving with the limitless mobility a fuel powered combustion engine offers us. We must admit that your servant regretted to part with it…
Hans Knol ten Bensel