New 2021 Nissan Qashqai spied, hybrid detailed

Next Qashqai to adopt new styling and hybrid power.

This is our first look at the third-generation Nissan Qashqai SUV, spied in the hands of Nissan engineers ahead of its full debut towards the end of 2020.

The car in these first spy shots is a late development mule wearing near-production bodywork under heavy camouflage. It’s difficult to make out fine details, but the exterior redesign is likely to echo that of the next X-Trail – leaked earlier this year in a series of patent images.

As is the current trend, expect the headlights to become slimmer, with the grille to grow in size, while the Qashqai will likely embrace a sportier image, hinted at by the IMQ concept car revealed at the Geneva motor show in 2019.

When it goes on sale, hybrid power will be a part of the package for the first time in a Qashqai thanks to an updated version of the current car’s CMF underpinnings. Nissan is also considering ditching the Qashqai’s diesel engine (not available in Australia) to help lower the SUV’s global carbon emissions.

Nissan has also confirmed that there won’t be a pure-electric version of the new Qashqai. Full electric power will be reserved for a seperate SUV model based on an all-new platform, which is likely to underpin a whole family of electric cars spanning the B, C and D segments for Nissan and its Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi.

Nissan Qashqai rendering

Speaking exclusively to Automotive Daily’s sources, Ponz Pandikuthira, Nissan’s European Vice President of Product Planning, said: “a new platform is what’s best to accommodate electrified technologies. It probably won’t include full electrification, because that’s a complete tear-up and the investment required for that would be considerably higher.”

Hybrid powertrains

As such, the new Qashqai could be offered with two hybrid powertrains – one featuring Nissan’s innovative ePower system and one sporting Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. The former system is currently found in the Japanese-delivered Nissan Note, where it’s proven popular. It’s a series hybrid system featuring a petrol engine that works as a generator to charge the battery, which then powers an electric motor.

“We’re investigating the ePower technology for Europe,” explained Pandikuthira. “The biggest difference when you do these onboard generator vehicles is highway driving – in Japan, they typically don’t go above 80-100km/h.

“You do 100-110km/h… At those speeds, you end up depleting the battery very quickly, so the range extender has to work really hard to keep the energy going and then it goes out of its range of efficiency.”

However, Pandikuthira wasn’t convinced about the benefits of plug-in hybrids. He told us: “We’re not pursuing a big plug-in hybrid strategy. On some car lines we’ll try it out, but the business case for plug-in hybrids is not very good. For us, it’s a bridge technology for the next two to four years until battery costs drop to the point where the variable costs of making full EVs prevail.”

Jonathan Burn

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