Nissan Qashqai (2021) review: Charging forward with e-Power - MrLiambi's blog


My tweets


Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Nissan Qashqai (2021) review: Charging forward with e-Power

There's no question that the Nissan Qashqai has been a success. Just look out of your front door, in any car park or outside any school gate. There are Qashqais everywhere.

Nissan basically invented the crossover segment and the popularity of practical softroaders, for which the Qashqai has always been the poster child.

Many have long questioned why the Qashqai hasn't gone electric, but instead it's leaving that to the Nissan Ariya and instead offers the choice of mild hybrid, or the slightly more unique e-Power option. But how does the Qashqai fair, and which model should you choose?


This new version of the Qashqai has been designed to be more muscular and sporty, it's longer and wider - but what you'll see is the larger grille on the front and a roof that appears to float. It's instantly recognisable as a Qashqai, but picking up a lot of design moves we saw previously on the updated Juke. 

Everything is harder and more angular than the previous version, the wavey shoulder line is gone, replaced with a neat crease running front to rear. There's a hint to some of the design we've seen coming out of VW models - and things feel a little more serious.

On the Tekna+ you now get 20-inch wheels - with a different suspension setup to accommodate them - and it's clear that Nissan wants to raise its game to compete in what is a very congested segment of the market - and the most popular.

There's a full range of trims, starting with the Visia, although that still has steel wheels, so it's really there to give that enticing £25k starting price, while realistically, most will buy in the N-Connecta or Tekna trim. Tenka+ was introduced on the last update to the Qashqai, designed precisely to hook in those buyers who wanted a Qashqai but with a slightly higher standard.

There's an interesting detail to note about the rear doors: these now open at a wider angle, designed to give greater accessibility and that's going to be useful for those putting a car seat in the back, or reaching over children to make sure everyone is strapped in properly.

As it is, the Qashqai remains a practical crossover, small enough to park in tight spaces or to navigate through tighter streets, but retaining that good visibility and high ride height that makes this category of car so popular. It's good-looking too - and it needs to be with Kia ramping up the appeal of the Sportage as these two models go head-to-head.

An interior lift

There has been an considerable reorganisation of the interior of the Qashqai, with a step from the lower two trim levels to N-Connecta, which is where the digital driver display comes in to make everything look a little more modern.

The biggest change is lifting the central display out of the dash to sit on the top, so it's easier to glance at when driving and to put it more at the heart of things. That's allowed the bulk of the dash to look slimmed down for a more spacious feeling.

collection: internal

We've not driven all the trims, so as can't comment on those lower down the line, but on the Tekna+ you get a great finish. It's not quite as plush as you'll get from an Audi, but there's a good deal of sophistication, a sense that this car as grown up slightly.

Nissan hasn't ditched all the buttons, however, keeping those to aid navigation on the central display on some versions, so you can easily get to main areas like audio, maps or the cameras, but there are some odd choices, like having the dark mode (day/night) as a physical button. Once you start using the touch display you'll find duplication of all these controls too, so it's not as seamless as it could be.

On higher trims there's a larger display that's all touch, ditching the run of buttons across the bottom as well as the dials at the end for a more sophisticated look.

There's a combination of materials, and a good sense of attention to detail and a feeling that everything is more modern now, with a minimalised gear selector on the Xtronic version or a comfortable gear stick on the manual version. 

As the car is longer and wider than the model it replaces there's more interior space, with the optional panoramic roof doing its part to lift things further. A pleasant place to be then and perfectly comfortable, with more space for the rear bench.

The boot will give you 504 litres of storage space which is reasonable, while it has a false floor meaning you can secure things out of sight or enjoy the benefit of a flat floor, or remove the panels for a larger lipped boot.

Generally speaking it is quiet and sophisticated on the interior with engine noise kept to a minimum and not too much wind noise once you get out on faster roads.

The technology loadout

Nissan has, for the past few years, been keen to put technology at the fingertips of buyers. That's seen a substantial shift in what is offered in the Qashqai. There was a considerable update to the previous model and that continues again in this latest model.

We've mentioned that there's a digital cockpit, a 12.3-inch driver display that does away with the dials and gives you more customisation over what information you have in front of you. It's not quite as accomplished as you'll find from others - Audi notably - who very much kicked off this trend and still seem to lead the way.

collection: display and ui

Nissan offers digital version of its dials, while letting you leaf through major sections between these dials. That can give you stats for your drive, mapping, music details and so on, but you can change the display to minimalise the dials into two scales left and right, giving you a larger central space to view other details. This is great for directions, if you don't have the heads-up display.

That extends to the central display too. Although this is a new system, it doesn't feel hugely modern. You can customise the home screen, with the ability to drop widgets into place with your finger, but it looks like a smartphone from the past decade. The most confusing part shows itself in the satnav, when an upcoming junction will be overlayed over the map, often duplicating the guidance, but using a black background. It can be confusing and isn't the best guidance we've used.

In reality it hasn't changed, graphically, from the previous iteration so that's a bit of a let-down, relieved by the fact that from N-Connecta trim upward you can have wireless Apple CarPlay or wired Android Auto, which we suspect most buyers would opt to use instead if they're serious tech heads.

Nissan is keen to talk about the head-up display, however, which comes in on Tekna level cars and above. This is pretty large, able to give you a range of information so you don't have to shift your eyeline to glance at essential details like where the next turning is coming up. The best thing is that Nissan's system works with polarised sunglasses, whereas some (like on the Range Rover) are completely invisible when wearing some sunglasses.

One area where Nissan is rather more generous is with driver assistance, with all models getting things like emergency braking, lane guidance, intelligent cruise control, traffic sign recognition and parking sensors - and that's just on the entry-level.

Once you hit Tekna, you get the ProPilot system for more advanced self-driving skills and this will integrate with road sign recognition, prompting you to adjust the speed as the roads change - it's really smart and works well. The only real concern we have about ProPilot is that when it decides it's no longer going to handle the steering, it only really gives a quick beep and vibrate and abandons steering. Unfortunately, for those in the UK where some of the lines are fading or obscured during roadworks, it will abandon control fairly regularly. 

On the road

The appeal of the Qashqai has always come from the elevated driving position, that feeling that you can see a little more and can live life a little on the high side. That's really driven the SUV boom, rather than anyone having any serious ambitions about going offroad. Indeed, Nissan says that only about 2 per cent of buyers opt for the all-wheel drive version.

While Nissan is talking about electrification, on the regular Qashqai this is a mild-hybrid setup, with an e-Power model also available to order. The e-Power version is interesting: it's a twist on hybrid powertrains using a 1.5-litre variable compression petrol engine as a generator to drive an electrified system, meaning that it drives more like an electric car, but giving you over 600 miles of range. It's more efficient, giving an average of 50mpg, while retaining a 55-litre fuel tank. We have a detailed breakdown on how Nissan e-Power works right here.

The e-Power version, because of the setup, doesn't have a gearbox, so there's instant power when you put your foot down, coming from the 140kW electric motor driving the front wheels. It's also the most powerful of the Qashqai models (190PS), giving faster 0-62mph times of 7.9 seconds, compared to 9.2 seconds for the 158PS regular version, while not being much more expensive. The e-Power starts on Acenta Premium for £32,940 while the Xtronic Acenta Premium is £30,955 - as there's only a £2000 difference it's well worth considering.

The e-Power version is slightly heavier at the front, so as a slightly different front suspension setup, but otherwise it's a pleasure to drive, nice and smooth - and generally nicer than Nissan's Xtronic gearbox that many will otherwise opt for on the regular mild-hybrid version.

Mild hybrid is about the lightest of electric touches that you can get on a car, harvesting excess energy to run a secondary electrical system that can aid with the start-stop system, allowing electrical systems to keep running without the engine on during coasting, and providing torque assistance when pulling away.

There's a 1.3-litre petrol engine in this mild hybrid setup, with options for 140PS or 158PS outputs. There is a manual option, or the Xtronic automatic, based on a CVT (continuously variable transmission). This CVT, however, offers paddles for manual steps if you want them in an attempt to make the drive a little more assertive - which generally speaking, it isn't.

The CVT gearbox will behave differently based on how you are driving it, designed to offer smooth gentle acceleration, or larger steps when driving more aggressively. We've driven both the manual and the Xtronic automatic and both are nice and easy - the manual perfectly easy to drive thanks to things like hill hold and so on, making clutch control simple and with nice precise gear changes.

The reported averages from the 158PS Xtronic Tekna+ model gave us 38mpg, while we were looking at around 40mpg from the manual - which are both less efficient than the e-Power - which is the model we'd opt for, unless you want the very cheapest Qashqai you can buy.

The Qashqai remains a fun car to drive. Nissan talks about how it was designed for the types of roads we have in the UK and across Europe and it handles with sophistication, handling speedbumps easily enough.  

Source :

No comments:

Post a Comment