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Nissan abandons diesel for hi-tech new Qashqai

Date: 18 February 2021   |   Author: Simon Harris

Nissan is gambling on sophisticated new hybrid technology alongside petrol engines for the new Qashqai, giving up on diesel in the medium SUV sector.

Company bosses believe the time is right to withdraw diesel engines from the popular sector of the European market, which was dominated by diesel engines just a few years ago. 

Nissan fleet director Peter McDonald told Business Car: "Like all car manufacturers, we have seen a big reduction in customer demand for diesel, and the majority of customers who incur benefit in kind transitioning to low CO2 and battery electric vehicles.

"However there's still a market for drivers who - for a variety of reasons - may not so readily be able to access charging infrastructure, or for drivers who decide to take a personal lease.

"We believe E-Power will be a strong contender in this space where customers are still looking for lower CO2 and lower running costs - and this new technology will debut for the first time in Europe on the all-new Qashqai." 

The Qashqai will arrive in showrooms this summer powered by a choice of 140hp or 160hp 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engines with 12V mild hybrid technology. 

The E-Power variant, due for launch in 2022, will use a petrol engine only to charge its battery and always drive on electric. 

It will use a 1.5-litre 156hp petrol engine, power generator, inverter and 140kW electric motor of similar size and power output as found in Nissan's electric vehicles, such as the Leaf. 

The Qashqai will not need to be plugged in, however, and Nissan says as the engine is never transferring power directly to the wheels, it will always be optimised for charging the battery most efficiently. The total power output will be the battery's 190hp. 

McDonald says Nissan has taken advantage of digital technology available to help launch its best-selling model. 

"Many of the traditional launch processes aren't available to us," he says, "However these challenges are industry-wide, and we've all had to adapt. 

"The big innovation we introduced was a Qashqai VR experience, which we have been able to deploy while cars were scarce and driving them was even more difficult due to lockdown. 

"The fact it was Qashqai actually made things a bit easier. Since it's the best-selling vehicle made in the UK, and regularly in the top 10 of most leasing companies, all our stakeholders worked with us, and supported our novel approach. 

"Headsets were delivered Mission Impossible-style to all our key stakeholders and one of our Leasing or Product experts then walked them through a presentation remotely via Skype, ensuring the footage disappeared from the VR headset as soon as the session finished. Qashqai has mass appeal, and this engagement has been hugely important as we've been counting down to launch." 

The new Qashqai is longer and wider than its predecessor, but Nissan has succeeded in reducing the weight of the car by more than 70kg, although this has been offset a little by the addition of the mild hybrid system. The wheelbase is 20mm longer than before, which has directly increased leg-room for rear-seat passengers. It has a 9in dashboard touchscreen, although Nissan has retained tactile controls below for ventilation, as well as a row of buttons below the touchscreen. 

It has a digital instrument display on higher grade versions, although UK specifications are yet to be confirmed, and it will also be available with a head-up display using a hidden 10in screen that reflects images and information on to the windscreen. 

An X-tronic auto option is offered on 160hp variants, and four-wheel drive is also available on those versions.