Nissan Qashqai e-Power: the hybrid that neglects the terminals

DIn a hybrid, the dominant philosophy is to add an electric motor to assist the internal combustion engine in the phases that consume the most energy (start, restart). At Nissan, where some attempts have been made in distant markets, particularly the Note in 2017 in Japan, a hybrid has never been marketed in Europe.

Therefore, the brand has decided to fix it and do it unexpectedly, reversing the roles assigned to the two engines. This system, called e-Power, places an electric motor at the center of the strategy, which drives the front wheels directly. It is made without the gearbox and the heavy and expensive battery pack of rechargeable hybrids.

The recharge? It necessarily exists because it is necessary to supply power to this 190 hp electric motor. This feature falls on a new 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine from Nissan, with a variable compression ratio to deliver 158 hp. This is calibrated to work best in a restricted speed range (1,650 to 4,900 rpm) and therefore takes on the role of a simple generator, with no mechanical connection to the drive wheels.

variable compression

Therefore, it sends its energy to the electric motor whose Qashqai takes advantage of the responsiveness and flexibility while the 3 cylinders run at almost constant speed. “Because this engine is disconnected from the wheels,” says Lucile Laporte, head of the regional program, “we can change the stroke of the piston and take advantage of a variable compression rate depending on the driving situation.” It is tuned to better serve as a generator. In performance, it is allowed to target those of diesel without using diesel. »A message for fleet managers.

The downside is that you still have to go to the pump to fill the 55 l tank with petrol, but the advantage is that you don’t have to look for the electric charging station. So what’s the point of staying that way at the mercy of fossil fuels? Nissan is betting here on a transition solution, useful for convincing those refractory to electricity that this is the future. They will be able to do so without the fueling limitations associated with this mode of propulsion while enjoying its elasticity at low and medium speeds. There is a small useful 1.8 kWh battery for recharging / restoring powered by energy recovery when it slows down.

Developer inspired by the “one pedal” that restores the strong decelerations to the full stop at the elevation of the accelerator foot, Nissan does not repeat this excellent solution, its customers have not wanted. An error in our opinion but a short drive allowed us to see that the system requested by pressing a button “e-Pedal Step” only requires the use of the brake to immobilize the vehicle on all end switches. This twin engine has an effect on the scale with about 200 kg extra. But the goal is to reduce pollutant emissions, as Qashqai e-Power has 119 g of CO2or 5.3 l per 10 km.

Theory and reality

Not bad for an SUV, but from theory to reality there is often a big leap. Confident, Nissan offered to take control of this vehicle at the Jarama circuit near Madrid, not to set schedules, but to find out how e-Power works. Therefore, the route embellished with pines, stops, roundabouts, hills and slopes, had to reproduce the usual situations of open roads.

In the space of a few laps where we briefly tested the “Sport” mode and then the standard mode, we played the “Economy” program game with a fairly light right foot. The observation is that indeed, at low speeds, Qashqai evolves with fluidity and immediate electrical reactivity. But the limitation to 120 km / h did not allow us to check if it had an extension beyond, weak point of the electricity.

On the other hand, the softness and sound discretion are there, even if Nissan has worked on a shifting simulation, a fashionable “tuning” on the electric that thus mimics the thermal. The on-board sound system is also designed to kill parasitic sounds, which bodes well for a modernized family car for the hybrid cause, in particular with a 9- to 12-inch magnified center screen to secure the grain. There is, before a real test, the verdict of our brief test that comes with a consumption of 7.2 l, penalized by the start-up phase that weighs in a too short distance. The Qashqai e-Power should come out better in a real situation, which will be checked from June at the time of marketing at a price of about 40,000 euros.

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