Nissan’s new Qashqai has all of the external characteristics that have made it one of Ireland’s best-selling SUVs. The new model brings lots of positive changes, in terms of styling, but more critical for rural drivers, there’s no diesel engine version available anymore.

For this new Qashqai Nissan has replaced what was a very thrifty and low-CO2, 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine with a three-cylinder, 190bhp turbo-petrol engine and a full electric drive system. This system takes a little explaining.

Unlike others, Nissan has opted for a system that they call the e-Power system, which brings electric car driving with a difference. This new smaller turbo-petrol engine only produces electric power, and when channelled through an inverter system generates 140kW of electric power to drive the Qashqai’s wheels.

Nissan Qashqai

There is no mechanical connection between the engine and the drive system, as this engine only produces electricity so the car’s forward motion is solely provided by electric motors. Nissan uses exactly the same system in the bigger seven-seat X-Trail, where again diesel engine power is a thing of the past.

This quiet 190bhp turbo-petrol engine has a sole function to generate electric power so that the direct drive to the wheels comes only from an electric motor. It brings an almost instant, smooth acceleration response that’s fast and responsive. At 7.9 seconds in a 0 to 100km/hr run, that’s impressive for a large seven-seat SUV that weighs in at 1600kg on the scales.

No plug-in charging

This system also means that there is no plug-in charging needed. This petrol engine is always at hand (providing you keep fuel in the tank) to generate power to keep those wheels turning.

Gone in an instant is range anxiety and the search for charge points, and in return comes a new element of freedom to drive a clean SUV – but at a price.

Test drive

The new Qashqai is also available with a conventional petrol-engine and mild hybrid drive system, but it was the e-Power version that I drove some weeks ago. You need to take the Nissan Qashqai for a drive to experience the difference between this new version and the former reliable diesel SUV.

Nissan Qashqai

Out on the road, I took the e-Power Qashqai across a range of conditions in a test drive that covered more than 500km, with great comfort. The car’s 55-litre capacity fuel tank returned a fuel economy figure that brought me closer to diesel economy than I could have ever imagined.

The economy figure I achieved was about 15% off the rated figure of 5.3l/100km or 18.9km/litre. In theory, that could deliver an almost 1,000km range on a full tank, so mine would have been around 850km. I was careful to maximise the system’s ability where I limited my driving speed to a relaxing 100km/hr. For town driving, I used the Nissan’s e-Pedal system for gentler braking and even better economy.

Nissan claims that the e-Power system means that the engine can always run within its optimal range, leading to better fuel efficiency in urban settings. The system means that there is no acceleration delay as with an internal combustion engine or traditional hybrid. They also claim a 33% better fuel economy in some driving conditions relative to the petrol-engine, mild hybrid versions of the Qashqai.

Nissan Qashqai

The instant acceleration response from an electric drive delivers high torque feel and the relatively fast pace of 7.9 seconds in a 100km/hr race. It also gives more confidence when overtaking or merging onto a motorway.

Nissan claims the e-Power system ensures that the engine is turning at an appropriate speed relative to road speed. This avoids the “rev-up” effect of other hybrids under hard acceleration. It also means that the engine is running only at the speed it needs to, which is typically low in town driving.

At low speeds, when driving the Qashqai and its bigger sibling, the X-Trail, I found that occasionally the engine did rev up to boost the battery, and that experience was new in terms of hybrid driving. At higher road speeds, that effect was not noticeable at all.


The comfort is impressive in the new Qashqai, enhanced by the quietness of the driving experience. The interior layout is more modern and easier to get comfortable with. Getting connected with a smartphone was equally easy and the functionality of the system, combined with a large central infotainment screen, means that you are easily in control.

The digital dials are very easy to navigate. The heating system controls were clear and understandable, with fast windscreen clearance for those frosty mornings. I found that the learning process to get comfortable with the car’s controls was effortless.

Nissan Qashqai

This new generation Nissan Qashqai has a 2021 five-star Euro NCAP safety rating to inspire confidence. This is supported by a host of safety features, and a clear reversing and front camera system supported by parking technology for tight spots. More recently, this new Nissan Qashqai has been declared the UK’s most reliable car after a survey of 50,000 car owners, by the Which? Consumer publication.

Entry prices for the e-Power Nissan Qashqai start at €44,000, which is about €8,000 more than the entry-level Qashqai mild hybrid version powered by a 1.3 litre turbo-petrol engine. The Northern Ireland pricing is in the region of £36,500 and there appears to be only a slight price difference between e-Power and mild hybrid versions in that market.

The price jump to all-electric e-Power driving is too high. The Qashqai’s e-Power system gives the opportunity of getting close to the level of diesel car economy that we have become used to, with a cleaner drive but not necessarily a cheaper one.

How does the new Qashqai compare with the older model?

I’ve looked at the features of the previous Qashqai 1.6 litre turbo-diesel and compared them to the new e-Power electric drive version. To begin with, the new version is longer, wider and higher, and comes in at 100kg heavier due to the big battery needed to drive the system.

This new engine is more powerful but has lower torque, and lower towing power also. The economy figures from the previous diesel version were better and, in terms of range, the 10-litre extra capacity fuel tank gave better results.

The previous diesel version also had a lower CO2 rating than this new e-Power Qashqai, but the NOx levels were higher. While I’m not a climate change denier, on balance the motor industry has excluded some very efficient diesel engines with doubtful climate benefits.

Qashqai ownership costs are low

Nissan Qashqai cars are very popular on the secondhand market and holding their value. Based on new car prices in 2023, depreciation levels are very low, giving low ownership costs over three years.

My estimates – based on modest new car prices over the next three years and past experience – are that the Qashqai is still a good car to buy.

Entry Price XE Versions is €44,000 or £34,765 in N. Ireland

Ratings out of 10

Comfort 9

Driving Ease 8

Economy 8

Value for Money 7

Versatility 7