2021 Nissan QASHQAI gets novel hybrid tech

Posted: 13 November 2020 10:40 pm
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2021 Nissan Qashqai teased

2021 Nissan QASHQAI is available as a hybrid or a petrol-powered electric SUV.

The third-generation Nissan QASHQAI will launch next year, with prototypes currently racking up testing kilometres.

What's new on the 2021 QASHQAI?

Here's what you can expect from the 2021 QASHQAI, an SUV that Nissan describes as the "segment reference".

  • Two powertrain options. Buyers will have the choice of a mild-hybrid model, equipped with a 1.3-litre petrol engine or the groundbreaking ePOWER hybrid. The 1.3-litre petrol will sell in two states of tune (power figures not yet confirmed), operating alongside a 12V mild-hybrid set-up. But most interesting is the novel implementation of the ePOWER drive system. These QASHQAIs have an electric drive motor, but the battery is charged by a petrol engine. It's a novel approach, meaning drivers can have many of the benefits of an electric vehicle (EV), without the worries of range and finding a charging point. Nissan states the petrol engine is not directly connected to the wheels in any way. This differs from conventional hybrids, which either use the motor to supplement the internal combustion engine's power output or allow for relatively brief intervals of EV running. Another side benefit is Nissan installs a full-size motor, giving the QASHQAI EV levels of power. It's basically like carrying a petrol generator in the boot of your electric car.

Nissan Qashqai 2021 rear view

  • New platform. Under the exterior body panels is an all-new architecture, which Nissan calls the CMF-C platform. It's the first model in its line-up to run on these underpinnings. The body is built from ultra high strength steel, using state-of-the-art welding and pressing techniques. Apparently, the material has improved tensile strength (rigidity for us non-engineers). As a result, the 2021 QASHQAI is 41% more rigid than the current generation on sale. Nissan also uses a construction method known as "structural bonding", which eliminates tricky welds and further reinforces the body around the pillar to roof/floor joints.
  • Lighter construction. Nissan engineers have made some atypical material selection choices, for the SUV segment. The rear boot door is formed out of composites, which saves a decent 2.6kg alone! By stamping the doors, front wings and bonnet out of aluminium, a further 21kg was saved! All in all, the body weighs 60kg less than the model it replaces. Less weight should translate into better fuel-efficiency and handling.
  • All-new suspension and steering. Thanks to a combination of higher body stiffness and all-round MacPherson suspension struts, the new QASHQAI should respond more readily in the handling department. 2WD models (and ones with 19-inch alloys) get a rear torsion beam, which is usually seen as a cost-saving measure when compared with the multi-link configuration that the AWD (and 20-inch alloy wheel-equipped) QASHQAIs possess. However, Nissan states it has oriented the dampers and springs vertically to allow them to always operate at their best. This results in the QASHQAI better absorbing shocks and making for a planted and settled ride. QASHQAIs with multi-link set-ups at the rear, according to Nissan, deliver a best-in-class mix of performance and comfort. Engineers also reduced friction in the power-steering system, to produce improved feedback and feel.
  • ProPILOT. Nissan will install the next-generation ProPILOT driver assistance suite on the 2021 QASHQAI. One of the key features is an adaptive cruise control which accelerates and brakes within the lane. It has a stop and go feature, for when you encounter traffic. The system can also understand road signs and adjust accordingly for different speed limits. Onboard computers allow for upcoming turns and exit ramps, slowing down the car accordingly. A neat inclusion is "flank protection", basically side-parking sensors. They'll alert the driver if they're about to scrape into a bollard or car in a parking bay. It sounds as though the system, called ProPILOT with Navi-link, won't be standard across the entire range though, as it only comes on mid-level and up QASHQAIs.

Nissan Qashqai teaser image

  • Smart headlights. More and more, we're starting to see carmakers introducing adaptive headlights, which are broken into zones to better illuminate the road ahead. 2021 QASHQAIs have intelligent LED headlights, each with 12 different zones. These can activate or deactivate when an oncoming vehicle is spotted, helping reduce the chance of dazzling the other road user. Nissan says the smart headlights will also project a beam farther and wider.

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  • Efficiency. Engineers not only reduced the weight of the QASHQAI, but clearly invested significant effort on improving the overall efficiency. The fruits of their time are a completely flat underbody. This helps air to flow around the car as cleanly as possible, meaning less drag. An active grille shutter closes as needed for improved aerodynamics but intelligently opens when the engine needs cooling. The front end of the car is contoured such that it produces an "air curtain", offsetting the turbulence kicked up from the front wheels, by channelling air flow.

Pricing and availability

Specifications, availability and pricing will be confirmed closer to the launch.

Want to read more car reviews? Check out our car reviews section. If you already know which model you are after, it might be worth comparing car loan options as well as car insurance to see how much you could save.

Pictures: Supplied

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