New Nissan X-Trail, Qashqai 2021 set for electrification to take on Toyota RAV4, C-HR hybrids

Nissan Australia is expected to introduce hybrid versions of its new-generation X-Trail mid-size SUV and Qashqai small crossover next year, ramping up its plan to have a third of its models electrified by 2023.

Speaking to CarsGuide exclusively, Nissan Australia boss Stephen Lester hinted that the brand will expand its petrol-electric hybrid offerings, which currently consists of just the Pathfinder large SUV.

“Hybrid will be an excellent bridge to support full electrification over time,” he said.

“We are fortunate enough to have opportunities … but that will be an opportunity that gets realised in the future.

“For us, that electrification story will be a big part of the future for Nissan Australia, and we’ve already talked about the anticipation that we’ll have about 30 per cent of our portfolio electrified within the mid-term, or by the end of 2022.

“That still holds true at this point. That’s where we’ll see consumers continue to go and to spread their interest.”

Though Mr Lester could not confirm whether the new Qashqai and X-Trail will gain hybrid powertrains in Australia, he said that the new vehicles will still be a welcome update to the brand’s SUV portfolio.

“There’s no secret that those cars will be refreshed down the track, but it’s still a little way away for us,” he said.

“The reality is that even within our current portfolio, with Juke being added, Qashqai and X-Trail, we’ve got a pretty formidable trio of SUVs in the bulk of volume segments.”

Nissan Australia currently counts nine models in its stable, meaning hybrid versions of the current Pathfinder, and new X-Trail and Qashqai, would take the brand’s electrified offerings to one third of the its range.

The fourth-generation X-Trail is scheduled to be launched internationally later this year, with leaked images surfacing last week of the new Mazda CX-5-rivalling model.

Early speculation is pointing to a trio of new engines for the next X-Trail, including a 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder petrol, 2.0-litre variable-compression-turbocharged petrol first seen on the Infiniti QX50, and a petrol-electric hybrid unit.

The latter engine is set to line-up against the likes of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Subaru Forester Hybrid S, as well as the expected new-gen Hyundai Tucson that is set for electrification later this year.

As for the Qashqai, the small SUV will likely break cover after the X-Trail, with rumours pointing to a planned Paris motor show debut – though plans will have changed the show’s cancellation due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Styling is expected to mirror the second-generation Juke launching locally soon, while the interior should also be updated in line with the next-gen X-Trail.

Two hybrid systems are mooted for the next Qashqai, an E-Power range extender as seen on the Note passenger car and a plug-in powertrain with technologies possibly borrowed from the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Under the current version of the Note, which is due for a new-generation refresh soon, the E-Power system pairs a 58kW/103Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with an 80kW/254Nm electric motor to keep fuel consumption as low as 2.7 litres per 100km.

It remains to be seen if there is an appetite for a plug-in Qashqai in Australia, but the E-Power version would be a match for the mild hybrid versions of the Toyota C-HR and Subaru XV.

Mr Lester was also careful to distinguish that the Ariya concept shown at last year’s Tokyo motor show was not a forerunner to the next Qashqai, meaning a full-electric small SUV could be in development to sit alongside the Leaf hatchback and directly target the Hyundai Kona Electric.