► Full debrief on new Nissan Qashqai
► Hybrids only, no diesel option
► Hot one maybe on the way
Nissan's new Qashqai has arrived. The popular family crossover is here for an all-new generation and, while the exterior design and interior tech has evolved, there are much more clever bits under the skin.
A new platform (CMF-C), the latest driver safety systems and a complete lack of diesel engines are the big announcements. And it has a general spec upgrade as the company attempts to woo buyers looking to move to something smaller and more environmentally friendly than their current car.
Nicolas Tschann, Nissan Europe's general manager for crossovers, said via video call before the car's reveal: 'People are downsizing in Europe because of tax pressures. We're expecting 25% of sales to come from people downsizing. These people still want the features they've grown accustomed to, just in a more compact size.'
An accompanying Zoom chat with Nissan Europe's vice president for product planning, Marco Fioravanti, revealed that Nissan isn't ruling out hot versions either...
e-Power, mild hybrids and no diesels
Nissan is in line with current mainstream thinking in not offering a diesel engine. Instead, buyers, leasers and PCP-ers can choose from a 1.3-litre mild-hybrid and a range-extender hybrid called e-Power.
This innovative drivetrain option is set to roll out in the Qashqai in 2022. It's a traditional hybrid in that there's no plug-in option. It's a parallel hybrid set-up where the engine is effectively a generator used to charge the battery pack, which then powers the electric motor to drive the wheels.
Nissan says the e-Power Qashqai will enjoy the throttle response of an EV and even comes with Nissan's 'e-Pedal' technology that first debuted on the Mk2 Nissan Leaf. Backing off the throttle will deliver up to 0.2g of regenerative deceleration.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine in the E-Power version features a variable compression ratio and is tuned for maximum efficiency when delivering charge to the battery pack. Combined maximum power is 187bhp (the engine providing 156bhp to charge the battery), and that's enough to give drivers an 'electric response'.
You'll only get up to two miles of battery-only driving before the engine cuts in again, but Nissan is confident that buyers will really warm to the EV-like driving experience that e-Power brings to the party.
Until e-Power comes on stream the range will be exclusively powered by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol used widely across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance as well as by Mercedes-Benz. All versions receive a 12-volt mild-hybrid system that works with a compact lithium-ion battery improve stop/start and low-down torque. Nissan says this mild-hybrid system is good for a 4g/km reduction in CO2, which should put it around 120g/km when it goes on sale.
This drivetrain comes in four flavours, as listed below, the most powerful version also being available with a more 'intuitive and intelligent' four-wheel-drive system that has five driving modes. It's also claimed to shuffle torque split more effectively, redistributing power to the rear wheels up to five times quicker than the previous set-up.
- 138bhp manual front-wheel drive
- 155bhp manual front-wheel drive
- 155bhp CVT (automatic) front-wheel drive
- 155bhp CVT (automatic) all-wheel drive
You'll have spotted that the auto is a CVT – whereas the current Qashqai used a DCT. Why's that? Nissan Europe's deputy director of passenger car vehicle evaluation, Peter Brown, told us that's because CVTs are increasingly getting better and less elastic-band-like. He said: 'We looked at customer feedback and neither the CVT or DCT was perfect. This new CVT will be the best of both worlds – offering a relaxed, smooth, seamless drive at low speed, but enough grunt at high speeds.
'There are variable numbers of gears with a CVT depending on speed and amount of demand, not just the standard seven or eight.'
How about the interior?
There's a fully customisable TFT screen on offer, plus a head-up display – one that's projected onto the windscreen.
And of course there's a new 9-inch infotainment system with a list of services as long as your arm. Biggest of the new features are wireless Apple CarPlay, Google Street View, and the option of Amazon Alexa.
There is a raft of small, practical improvements: 28mm more shoulder room for front seaters, 20mm more knee room for rear seaters, bigger cupholders, larger space for phones. But despite the extra room there won't be a seven-seat option – that's strictly X-Trail territory.
Nissan reckons it's the first in the segment to offer massage seats, while it also offers the most powerful wireless charging pads. It's keeping faith with physical heating controls. And in order to make the car sound more premium, Nissan has teamed up with video-game brand Bandai Namco to create the car's internal noises.
Upgraded tech on offer, too
Most of the Qashqai's tech upgrades are to do with safety and convenience. The most convenient of which is Nissan's semi-autonomous ProPilot system. Improvements to the ProPilot system include automatically slowing down to 0mph in stop/start traffic and resuming once traffic moves again, a smoother steering system, automatic speed limit adjustments, and intervention if the driver is about to hit something in the blind spot. ProPilot will be available on N-Connecta spec cars – Nissan's heavy hitter, predicted to nab about half of Qashqai sales. Even base spec cars will get intelligent cruise control like Hyundai's latest Tucson.
There are also new matrix LED headlights, digital dials, a head-up display and massaging seats.
Will it fit the kids?
The new architecture means the car is 32mm longer and 35mm wider than the current Qashqai. This gives more room for passengers and bags in the cabin; the boot will usefully hold another 50 litres over the current model too.
The proportional changes aren't just for practicality. Brown tells us that the tweaks also make the car look lower and wider, giving it better stance.
The Qashqai will keep its boot floor configuration system, allowing the boot's height to be altered and the parcel shelf to be kept under the boot.
Tschan said: 'Functionality and practicality are synonymous with our Japanese roots. If we were German, the trunk would just be square.'
Didn't you mention a hot version?
Yes we did. Fioravanti was remaining coy, but he revealed: 'This is our key model in Europe and we aren't closing any doors for now. [The car's] life cycle is long and full of surprises – we're pretty sure we'll surprise you in the future.'
When can I get one?
Prices and a release date haven't been confirmed yet, but we'll update the story as soon as we know.
Our Nissan Qashqai review
The top crossovers and compact 4x4s
Future electric cars: upcoming EVs to look out for