Hybrid has plenty of grunt
NISSAN has taken a great leap into the future with its Note e-Power, a brilliant combination of electric technology and petrol power.
The Note e-Power is different from other hybrids on the market in one major aspect; the 1.2 litre petrol motor is used exclusively as a generator for the 80kW electric motor. The petrol motor is not connected to the driving wheels, the Note is completely driven by the electric motor.
The petrol motor generator is programmed to kick in when the battery level is becoming low.
This gives the Note two huge advantages over other electric cars. Firstly, it does not need a plug or charging station to recharge itself, the motor will do that for you.
And it gives the Note a range of up to 1200kms and immediately removes one of the greatest disincentives to other electric motors which are limited in the distance they can drive between charges.
Its performance also dispels another great outmoded belief because this vehicle has all the power of a conventional engine. It can go from 50 to 100kph in the blink of an eye and is unfazed by hills. You cannot tell any difference from a standard vehicle.
The Note takes surprisingly little to get used to. The conventional gear lever is replaced by a small toggle to select gears between park, reverse and drive.
One of the biggest differences is that in smart or economy mode (the third mode is normal) when you remove your foot from the brake the vehicle will slow itself to the point that you do not have to touch the brakes again such as when stopping at the lights.
This is a little unusual at first but it takes only a short drive to become used to this function which Nissan sees as the driving style of the future and a big plus in the long run.
Incidentally, the battery is charged in deceleration or braking in smart and economy mode.
The Note e-Power is also near silent when you start the motor, you have to look at the gauge to see the motor is actually running.
There is adequate interior seating and luggage space and plenty of convenient specs like auto headlights and climate control.
One brilliant feature is the way the reversing camera appears in the mirror to give a comprehensive view of your surrounds when you are in drive or reverse and it shows the entire area around you when in park.
The dash is a mine of information, showing you how much charge is left in the battery and your average per-kilometre usage of fuel.
Nissan sees the Note e-Power as the evolutionary step between petrol and full electric motors. If this really is the future of motoring, then it is going to be a giant step forward and one you can take in comfort and confidence.