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We have a wide power choice these days- petrol, diesel, hybrid, EV (pure electric) and now from Nissan, a further choice: e-POWER. This system is comprised of a high-output battery that is complemented by a variable compression ratio 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine generating 190PS, a power generator, inverter and 140kW electric motor of similar size and power output as found in the company’s electric vehicles. The petrol engine generates electricity, which can be transmitted via the inverter to the battery pack, the electric motor or both, according to the driving scenario. What sets this apart is that the electric motor is the sole source of power for the wheels, so its response is instant and linear and this represents an appealing alternative to traditional hybrids where drivers must accept the inherent shortcomings to the driving experience. This system was conceived to deliver the pleasurable, effortless and smooth driving experience associated with a pure EV, but without the need to recharge. So many drivers will welcome this new development.

Qashqai is the first model in Europe to be equipped with the e POWER drive system and it is exclusive to Nissan and a key component in the company’s electrification strategy, with this new system the promise of a responsive, efficient and quiet drive. The heart of the matter of this unique system is a 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo-charged variable compression petrol engine which has been developed specifically for this application. First used by Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti, the engine’s variable compression capability is a unique feature in an internal combustion engine and allows it to adjust compression ratio, giving both optimum performance and economy depending on the engine load. Ahead of its first introduction in 2018 with Infiniti, it was listed as being among the world’s 10 best engines by Ward’s, a US-based automotive consultancy. The variation in compression ratio ranges between 8:1 and 14:1, achieved by the movement of an actuator which changes the length of the piston stroke according to the demand for power.

Similar to the recently introduced Ariya, the new Qashqai e-POWER benefits from the ‘one pedal’ driving experience called e-Pedal Step. This has been designed to take the repetitive strain out of stop-start urban driving, where the driver is frequently moving their foot between the accelerator and brake, e-Pedal Step allows drivers to accelerate and brake using just the accelerator. The system must first be activated by the switch on the centre console and once engaged, the accelerator will deliver acceleration as usual; then when released it will brake the Qashqai at 0.2g, enough to illuminate the brake lights, and reduce the speed down to a creeping speed, not a complete stop. This ensures low-speed parking manoeuvres are as smooth as possible. Drivers should quickly adapt their accelerator pedal inputs to maintain smooth progress; ensuring urban driving is more intuitive and less demanding. Research by Nissan has shown that European crossover, (the Qashqai is in this market sector) shows that drivers spend more than 70% of their time driving in country and town/city environments. The research also shows that drivers feel obliged to compromise on driving pleasure in order to be eco-minded in their choice of vehicle. The e-POWER responds to that trend, as it offers optimum fuel efficiency without compromising driving pleasure thanks to the combination of the advanced battery and electric motor technology with its innovative variable compression ratio internal combustion engine. This could very well be the ideal technology for those facing a daily drive and who would consider transition to a full EV in the future but cannot recharge easily or are not ready to make the move to full electric.

The Qashqai is now in its third generation and it remains true to the original formula, striking design with intuitive technology and efficient but rewarding driving dynamics. We can expect to see the Qashqai e-POWER in early autumn.

Ian Lynas


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