The Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER features a petrol engine which powers a small battery and an electric motor which drives the wheels, with the aim of delivering an EV-like driving experience, but without the need to plug it in.
Nissan was a leader in EVs thanks to the LEAF which went on sale in 2011. It was 11 years later in 2022 before the brand’s next electric car appeared, the Ariya. Now Nissan has developed ‘e-POWER’ technology, which features a petrol engine that powers a small battery and an electric motor which drives the wheels, with the aim of delivering an EV-like driving experience. So is this technology that you should consider?
The Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER has a 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine which generates energy for a small lithium-ion battery and an electric motor which drives the front wheels – although the X-Trail e-POWER is also available with e-4ORCE all-wheel drive technology (with two electric motors).
The idea is that the X-TRAIL e-POWER drives like an electric car, but you don’t need to plug it in to charge it (however you do need to visit a garage to refuel).
The X-TRAIL offers lots of space – the five-seater as tested has bags of rear legroom and a large 575-litre boot (with a shallow space under the boot floor), and a seven-seater is also available.
The interior design shares similarities with the all-electric Nissan Ariya.
The Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER is basically good to drive, with smooth responses from the electric motor. The ride quality is also comfortable, and it’s a relaxing vehicle in which to cover motorway miles. The X-TRAIL has decent handling, although you can feel its weight and relatively high centre of gravity through the corners, and the steering is sufficiently light for the school run.
Although the X-TRAIL is engineered for all-wheel drive, our test car was only front-wheel drive, which resulted in some wheelspin and torque steer under acceleration. An all-wheel drive X-TRAIL e-POWER model is available.
The cabin features a button for ‘EV’ mode. If you press this button, a message virtually always comes up saying ‘EV mode unavailable’. So the vast majority of the time the X-TRAIL is using its petrol engine, which is generally quiet, but you can hear the revs under acceleration.
If you’re at a standstill, the car should be running on its battery rather than its petrol engine (a graphic in the instrument display shows the energy flow). The battery is only small and only has a limited range. In fact the battery is so small that when you brake, you can see the battery charge gauge in the driver’s display increasing due to the energy added from brake recuperation.
The gear selector appears to be shared with that in the Ariya and gives you the options of D and B (for increased brake regeneration). There’s also an ePedal button in front of the gear selector which, like the LEAF, increases the rate of brake recuperation and aims to deliver ‘one pedal driving’, ie. you just need to lift your foot of the accelerator and the car should slow down without needing to use the brake pedal. A ‘D-mode’ (Drive mode) button gives you the options of Sport, Standard and Eco modes.
There’s a large touchscreen, with shortcut buttons on the screen, as well as other buttons underneath the screen – which are reflective and face upwards, so it’s sometimes a challenge to read the writing on them.
Separate heating and ventilation controls are located under the screen, which include rotary dials to adjust the cabin temperature, which are more user-friendly than climate controls on a touchscreen.
Be aware that if you mention the name ‘Nissan’ while in the X-TRAIL the car will talk back at you.
The Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER has WLTP combined fuel economy of 42.2 mpg. In the real-world the X-TRAIL averaged 35.5mpg during a week of mixed driving. The car displayed a projected driving range of 460 miles, which is good.
Because the Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER has CO2 emissions of 152 g/km, its benefit-in-kind tax rate for company car drivers ranges from 31%-34%. This is slightly less than the 37% rate for petrol X-TRAIL models, but is substantially higher than the 2% for pure EVs.
The Nissan X-TRAIL Tekna+ e-POWER costs £44,955. Our test car had the option of two-tone Champagne Silver paint with Black Metallic Roof (£1,095), taking the total price of this car to £46,050. The Nissan X-TRAIL Tekna+ e-POWER is also available with all-wheel drive and seven seats. For comparison, the petrol-powered Nissan X-TRAIL Tekna 1.5 MHEV 163PS 2WD costs £40,020; the Tekna 1.5 e-Power 204PS is available from £42,810, and the Tekna 1.5 e-4ORCE 213PS (petrol, all-wheel drive) costs £45,010.
Nissan says that the Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER is for people who want a driving experience like an electric car, but don’t want to – or aren’t able to – charge an EV. Against that brief, the X-TRAIL e-POWER works effectively. The driving experience is certainly smoother than a petrol model, and you still get the space and the decent ride comfort of the X-TRAIL. Although our test car was only front-wheel drive and only had five seats, the X-TRAIL e-POWER is available with all-wheel drive and seven seats.
But – and it’s a big but – the Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER has WLTP combined fuel economy of 42.2 mpg, CO2 emissions of 152 g/km, and its benefit-in-kind tax rate is 31%-34%. This compares to 2% BIK for pure EVs. So we’d recommend going for the real, full electric experience rather than the imitation. The all-electric Nissan Ariya may not offer the space of the X-TRAIL, but it’s available from £38,259 – ie. around £6,700 cheaper than the X-TRAIL that we tested – and like this Ariya, our test car didn’t have all-wheel drive or seven seats. The Ariya has zero tailpipe emissions, 2% benefit in kind for company car drivers, and you don’t need to visit garages to fill it with petrol.
The Nissan X-TRAIL e-POWER is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 7/10.