Nissan SA is testing the Note E-Power in anticipation of the technology coming to SA. Picture: MARK SMYTH
Nissan SA is testing the Note E-Power in anticipation of the technology coming to SA. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Nissan SA is testing a Note E-Power, which Motor News drove near the company’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria.

The Note is a small hatchback which is popular in many of Nissan’s markets around the world but is not sold in SA. Before Nissan fans get excited, no, it’s not coming here, but its E-Power technology is.

The Note E-Power is the top-selling model in its segment in Japan and it uses the first generation all-electric Leaf electric motor which generates 80kW and 250Nm of torque. It is mated to a previous generation Micra 1.2l three-cylinder petrol engine.

This engine operates as an electrical generator in the same way as in the BMW i3 range extender or the international Chevrolet Volt.

The E-Power uses a small engine as a generator, much like the BMW i3 REX. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The E-Power uses a small engine as a generator, much like the BMW i3 REX. Picture: MARK SMYTH

It has a claimed electric-only range of 50km but with the generator Nissan says it will cover 600km on the open road and 1,000km of city driving.

So why is Nissan SA testing it? While the Note E-Power is not planned for our shores, the company will introduce the E-Power technology in 2020. Initially it will come in the new X-Trail SUV but is likely to also be used in other models.

Not surprisingly, our brief drive in the Note revealed a drivetrain that felt much like that in the Leaf, at least until we put foot a little and that three-cylinder thrummed into life to give more impetus.

With the second-generation Leaf delayed in SA but still on the way, Nissan SA appears to be seeking wider solutions in line with the rest of the world.

A date with the new GLS

Mercedes is working on a more luxurious replacement for the current GLS.
Mercedes is working on a more luxurious replacement for the current GLS.

We have been reporting on the arrival of the next generation Mercedes-Benz GLS for ages and honestly, we still can’t tell you exactly when it will debut. Our money is on it making its first official appearance at the Los Angeles auto show in November, so let’s see. In the meantime, it has again been spotted testing Stateside. The GLS, which will rival machines such as the Range Rover and the still-testing BMW X7, looks large enough to fill its family hauling purpose. Nevertheless, the heavy cladding and tons of camouflage on the prototype shouldn’t trick anyone into believing that the full-size SUV will be anything other than a stylish proposal.

Underneath the skin is Mercedes’s new MHA platform, which is set to bring improvements on multiple fronts. For one thing, the architecture achieves noticeable weight saving, while its intelligent packaging means that the passengers using the third row of seats should enjoy proper accommodation.

As we have previously reported, the platform will also allow the new model to deliver hybrid powertrains, while new inline-six motors are set to become the norm. Of course, there will also be Mercedes-AMG and non-Affalterbach V8 powerplants, with the first set to be offered in two output versions, as with the rest of the automaker’s "63" models.

The rumour mill also talks of the new GLS getting a similar Mercedes-Maybach treatment as that offered for the S-Class. The resulting machine will be a competitor for the Range Rover SV Autobiography LWB and the Bentley Bentayga.

Haval poaches designer

Haval has poached Phil Simmons from Land Rover to work on its designs. Picture: QUICKPICK
Haval has poached Phil Simmons from Land Rover to work on its designs. Picture: QUICKPICK

Chinese SUV manufacturer, Haval, has poached designer Phil Simmonds from Land Rover in what will be seen as quite a coup for the brand as it seeks to expand its international presence. Simmons will be the new design director and vice-president of Haval where his main tasks will be to build a world-class design team and create a unique design for Haval models.

Simmons has been working in automotive design for more than 29 years.

Prior to his collaboration with Haval, he served as studio director for Land Rover exterior design.

Under his leadership and that of overall Land Rover design boss, Gerry McGovern, the 2018 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, the 2017 Range Rover Velar and the 2016 Range Rover Evoque, Discovery and Discovery Sport models were created.

He also led the design team that developed the interior and exterior of earlier models — the 2014 Range Rover Sport and the 2013 Range Rover.

From 1999 to 2007, Simmons worked in various divisions of Ford, where he was responsible for the design of cars such as the 2009 Fiesta, the 2005 Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ.

He started his career in the UK and worked on various projects, including the 2003 Range Rover exterior and the 2002 BMW Mini interior.

With Simmons on board and Haval displaying ambitious plans, we will not be surprised to see it trying to poach a few more top designers to work in the team.

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