Nissan X-Trail e-Power: Hybrid with a twist

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 8

What is it?

Not to make too much of a point about it, but beating of chests by automobile manufacturers about their fight to save the planet appears to be getting louder.

Take Nissan, for example, with its new X-Trail petrol-electric hybrid SUV.

Badges announcing e-Power and e-4ORCE, the company’s commitment to electrification, are plastered prominently all-round the vehicle on top of the restrained EV initials (for electric vehicle) found on the rego plates of similar cars. 

Under the skin e-Power is a 100 per cent electric motor-driven system that Nissan claims gives the owner the same high-performance driving experience as an all-electric car.

It uses the EV technology perfected in the Nissan Leaf and adds an efficient, petrol engine to charge the lightweight, lithium-ion battery pack when needed.

First introduced in Japan in 2016 with the Nissan Note at its core is electric motor-driven technology used to deliver instant torque, power, efficiency and a high-level driving experience.

In high power demand situations, such as strong acceleration, the petrol engine and generator are used to keep the battery pack charged and can directly power the electric motor, but not the wheels directly, making it a series hybrid.

Not satisfied with the improved powertrain alone, however, Nissan has also upped the ante with new electric-drive four-wheel-control technology called e-4ORCE which optimises the balance between powerful and unprecedented control, with a smooth ride for all, thanks to superior handling on a wide range of surfaces.

Where does the hybrid X-Trail sit in the SUV scheme of things?

The Mitsubishi Outlander comes only as a plug-in hybrid, while direct competition comes from Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid AWD and GWM Haval H6 Ultra hybrids.

The Tesla Model Y is fully electric and there’s no hybrid Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson as yet.

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 7

What’s it cost?

At a tad under 4.7 metres long, a bit over 1.8 metres wide, and  1.7 metres tall, the fourth-generation X-Trail squarely takes a mid-size SUV spot.

It follows a distinctly Nissan angular design direction, sharing several sharp lines with the  Pathfinder and Qashqai.

The e-Power hybrids differ from equivalent combustion-engine models only in terms of a revised V-Motion grille and badging.

Lighting is up to present-day standards with auto LED headlights, LED tail lights, daytime running lights and fog lights.

The 19-inch alloy wheels, a floating roofline with panoramic sunroof and auto rain-sensing wipers put the finishing touches to the newcomers.

X-Trail hybrid comes only in premium Ti and Ti-L form with a starting price of $54,190, plus on-road costs, putting the hybrids $4200 above their 2.5-litre petrol-only siblings.

They are both covered by the standard Nissan five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with capped price servicing and prepaid maintenance plan.

The all-new X-Trail Ti and Ti-L hybrids continue the debut of three new info displays, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen, 10.8-inch head-up windscreen display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, with customisation of information clearly and easily accessible. 

Smartphone integration has been upgraded with wireless smartphone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay for seamless connectivity, along with additional USB-A and USB-C charge ports for keeping smartphones and tablets topped up.

X-Trail hybrids earn a five-star ANCAP rating under 2021 test conditions and added information and testing.

Active safety is covered by forward autonomous emergency braking (pedestrian and cyclist), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and ProPilot lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, and reverse autonomous emergency braking (pedestrian).

Pedestrians close to the vehicle are alerted by an external audible warning when it is in almost silent EV mode.

Seven airbags include a centre airbag between front seat occupants.

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 3

What’s it go like?

Inside, the surroundings are a blend of quality craftsmanship and materials highlighting comfort and convenience all round. 

Comfort is covered by 10-way power-adjustable (and heated) front seats, three-zone climate control, six-speaker audio (with digital radio), leather-accented trim and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Move to the back and the first thing you notice is the rear door opening to 85 degrees, which makes it easier to get in and out.

The rear seats (split 40/20/40) can slide forward for more boot space, or back for maximum  passenger room.

With all seats upright cargo space is 575 litres, a mere 10 litres less than the combustion-only X-Trail.

Lower the rear seat and that volume increases to around 2000 litres.

A power tailgate eases loading.

There’s no spare wheel of any sort, only a puncture kit.

The centre console has a floating design, with room for large items in a rubberised section underneath.

A shift-by-wire gear selector is compact and user-friendly.

Also on hand are buttons for EV and e-Pedal modes, as well as a rotary dial to access drive and terrain systems.

Nissan’s e-POWER system includes a petrol engine with a power generator, inverter, battery and an electric motor.

The electric motor delivers power directly to the wheels, using energy stored in the battery pack.

Used for charging the battery pack or powering the electric motor, the petrol engine eliminates the need for an EV charger.

There is no direct link with the wheels.

Towing capacity for e-Power models is rated at 1650kg, compared to 2000kg for petrol versions.

With responsive electric motor control in fractions of a second and instantaneous torque on tap, e-Power delivers smooth almost silent acceleration off the mark, courtesy of noise cancelling measures in the cabin. 

When called on for more power, the petrol engine and generator chime in with a none-too unpleasant hum, keeping the battery pack charged and, if needed, directly powering the electric motor.

There is no direct connection between the engine and wheels, the power plant acting only as a generator recharging the battery through an inverter. 

EV or e-Pedal control are instigated by means of buttons on the centre console.

EV is what it says – no petrol engine input here – and can be operated for a short distance.

On test, a press of the EV button was answered by a message saying the battery was not charged enough to sustain electric-only operation. 

Maybe at a later time.

The e-Pedal had no such impediment, leaving the accelerator to apply the brakes automatically when the foot was lifted off, calling on the regenerating capacity to slow the car almost to a halt. 

Nissan claims combined fuel consumption of 6.1L/100km.

The test car recorded 7.4 litres during a normal working week in the city and 4.8 on a motorway run. 

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 1

What we like?

  • Quality craftsmanship
  • Comfort and convenience
  • Rear doors open a wide 85 degrees
  • Power tailgate eases loading

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 4

What we don’t like?

  • No spare wheel of any sort
  • Reduced towing capacity
  • EV mode refused to work
  • Higher fuel consumption than promised

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 2

The bottom line?

In its performance the Nissan X-Trail Ti e-Power with e-4ORCE does lean more to the full electric vehicle rather than the hybrid SUV.

However, there’s the added running cost of buying petrol.

The premium purchase price over petrol-only models is covered somewhat by the increased  Ti/Ti-L equipment.

2023 Nissan X Trail Ti L e Power with e 4ORCE 5

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Nissan X-Trail Ti e-Power with e-4orce, priced from $54,190
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 6/10

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