A new generation of the Nissan Qashqai it is always awaited with a certain interest. Expectations, in fact, are high, having the Japanese invented in 2007, in fact, the segment of compact crossovers, ie those “hybrids” that mix the typical elements of an SUV with the characteristics of a hatchback.
Now the Nissan Qashqai of 2021, child of the times, is hybrid in all respects, in the sense that under its hood there are only electrified engines, even if very different from each other. We tried the mild-hybrid version, while the more sophisticated E-Power arrives later in 2022.
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The stylistic language of the previous Qashqai finds a continuation on the version of 2021. It is therefore an evolution of the design rather than a distortion as it happened instead in the jump between the first and second generation. The new front grille is generous and shaped by a sense of dynamism that accompanies the trend and shape of the optical groups, which are full LED or matrix LED depending on the version.
The surfaces are smooth and regular, especially on the side and rear, and convey a beautiful sense of balance and modernity, but also of technology and maturity. It looks like a more “important” car than before. Then there are many details that enrich the design, for example the model name written on the front bumpers, the vertical air intakes that are true, the roof that can be in contrast and the alloy wheels that can reach 20 “.
In terms of dimensions and overall dimensions, the Qashqai has dimensions almost similar to the previous one, with a general growth of the length of 3.5 cm (reaching an altitude of 4.42 meters) and, specifically, an increase in the step of 2 cm.
And precisely the growth of the step leads to an increase in the useful space for the knees of those who sit behind. The habitability is in fact of a good standard and even those who sit in the center are comfortable thanks to the flat seat and the compact central tunnel. There are also air conditioning system vents on the console and, further down, two charging sockets.
The layout of the dashboard is rather classic, perhaps even too much considering that the Qashqai has the arduous task of countering some very fierce competitors who make style and refinement a strong point, such as the Peugeot 3008. That said, the ergonomics is of the highest level: everything is where you expect it to be and is controlled with clear physical controls to be identified even while driving, from the climate control buttons to those on the steering wheel spokes.
The materials are of good quality, with soft touch upholstery in the upper and central part of the dashboard and more rigid in the lower one, and the same goes for the door panels (very vertical in order to save precious millimeters for the interior volume) and for the tunnel in the center whose surface, however, could be better exploited to accommodate storage compartments.
The wireless charging compartment is spacious and powerful (15 W), but there are no other USB sockets in sight, they are located in the cockpit under the central armrest which is not adjustable in depth or height. The driver’s seat is enveloping as is the clear instrumentation, consisting of a 9 “central display (the graphics look a bit dated), a customizable and very fluid 12.3” digital dashboard and a clear head-up display. extended with a 10.8 “diagonal.
Apart from the unattractive graphics, the infotainment system is very advanced and connected, with compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, even wireless, and with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Google Street View and the possibility, among other things, of connect up to 7 devices to the on-board wi-fi and download map updates via the Internet.
Last, certainly not in order of importance, the trunk: it has grown by 74 liters to reach a total of 504 liters. It is roomy and versatile thanks also to the floor that can be divided into two sections that can be transformed into an organizer. The sofa can be folded down to a 60:40 configuration but there is no central hatch.
The Qashqai 2021 is based on a new platform called CMF-C and which, in addition to allowing the hybridization of the engines and the installation of all driving aids, increases torsional rigidity by 41% while saving 60 kg. of weight. This translates into greater composure and driving precision compared to the previous model, thanks also to a revised and refined suspension scheme.
The absorption is composed, they filter vibrations and jolts only on particularly damaged asphalt, while the steering gains precision and directionality with the Sport mode, because otherwise it is a bit too light and forces you to correct the trajectories when looking for a guide more incisive. When maneuvering, however, its maneuverability is excellent and also helps the good visibility obtained thanks to the thin pillars.
I was able to drive all mild-hybrid versions, except for the one with all-wheel drive. I started from 1.3 with a six-speed manual gearbox with a power of 140 HP, a balanced engine with a progressive and linear thrust that communicates well with the precise engagement of a gearbox with a reduced and fluid lever. As an admirer of automatic transmissions, I found an “analog” control so timely both when driving in the city and on country curves pleasant.
The 158 HP version, always with the manual, is difficult to distinguish from the less powerful one: the behavior remains sincere and enjoyable thanks to the well-spaced ratios. It is with the 158 bhp 1.3 and XTronic gearbox that the differences are distinctly perceived, thanks to the naturalness with which the continuously variable gearbox engages one ratio after another or, vice versa, downshifts without inaccuracies. And if, as already mentioned, you leave the Sport mode selected, then the panache is even more pronounced and the steering, chassis and suspension, which limit the body roll, enhance the dynamic qualities of the Qashqai to the fullest.
As anticipated, all the power steps and transmission and traction configurations are combined with a 12V electric module capable of recovering kinetic energy and storing it in a lithium-ion battery. This is then reused to power the car’s electrical system but also to provide 6 Nm of additional torque under acceleration, for a maximum of 20 seconds, starting from 20 km / h, thus actively supporting the work of the engine at petrol.
The ProPilot active safety system takes a further step forward in evolutionary terms: the ADAS devices are more refined, such as the adaptive cruise control capable of adjusting the speed also based on the information arriving from the navigator. In use in the first few kilometers of testing, the systems seemed natural and effective in their intervention.
To date, we have classified hybrid cars under the names “mild-hybrid”, “full hybrid” and “plug-in hybrid”. From 2022, however, there will probably be a new label to be invented because Qashqai intends to introduce, for the first time in Europe, a completely different powertrain.
It is called E-Power and is equipped with a 1.5 variable compression petrol used exclusively for the production of electricity which is then used by a 140 kW (190 HP) electric motor which, in turn, is the only one that transmits traction to the wheels. In other words, it can be seen as an electric car which, instead of being recharged at the columns, is refueled by the gas station since it is capable of self-producing energy.
In addition to the various power levels, the Qashqai offer is also divided into a range of six versions. It starts from 25,500 euros and reaches about 42,600 euros, but all the details on the prices and equipment of the various set-ups can be found in our article dedicated to the Qashqai price list.
The price of the E-Power version has not yet been formalized, which roughly should have a cost difference similar to that which previously characterized the versions with diesel engines, now completely abandoned.