- Stylish design and available with choice of engines and trim levels
- Available with 4WD
- Spacious interior with good-sized boot
- Rear legroom is tight if front seats pushed back
- Narrow rear screen results in quite poor visibility
- Stiff opposition from rivals these days
Nissan lays claim to inventing the crossover vehicle when it introduced its Qashqai model back in 2006. That version went on to sell two million units which more than doubled expectations. A second-generation Qashqai was launched in 2014 and although it is just as appealing as the original model, rival manufacturers have flooded the marketplace with compact SUVs, crossovers or compact crossovers – whatever name you want to give them – in the meantime.
The Qashqai still has everything you could wish for though with dynamic styling, powerful yet economical engines, a wealth of on-board technology as well as covering all the practicality bases.
And customers can choose from a range of trim levels called Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, N-Motion, Tekna and Tekna+. There are manual or automatic variants along with the option of all-wheel drive.
On The Road
The latest Qashqai is available with a 1.3 DIG-T petrol engine delivering either 140PS or 160PS. But it’s the diesel units that were all upgraded this year to deliver extra power, improved performance and lower emissions. There is a 1.5 dCi diesel powertrain delivering 115PS or a 1.7 dCi 150PS diesel unit. The Qashqai is available with a 6-speed manual gearbox, a 7-speed DCT automatic box or an Xtronic auto transmission.
We tested the high-end Qashqai Tekna powered by the punchy 1.7-litre 150PS diesel engine delivering 340Nm of torque and matched to the Xtronic automatic transmission. This model could sprint to 62mph from a standstill in 11.2 seconds and maxed out at 120mph.
Those figures don’t exactly set the world alight, but the Qashqai certainly delivers on all counts. It’s perfectly grounded and well balanced so country lane driving is fun especially as the steering wheel is perfectly weighted with ample driver feedback. And it’s a car that easily cruises at the national speed limit on motorways without any fuss. It is also nice and agile weaving through crowed town-centre traffic.
The engine driving this car has gained an extra 20PS of power, an additional 20Nm of torque and boasts an increased towing capacity of 2,000kg.
The manner in which the Qashqai behaves on the road has always been a big selling point. It’s not the fastest or most powerful but it does everything well – there is little point having an SUV that’s so blisteringly quick that it bounces all over the road while the back-seat occupants turn greener by the second. Thankfully, wherever you sit in the Qashqai you will enjoy good comfort levels. And even on larger 19-inch wheels our car still felt composed with very little sign of body roll into bends.
One of the latest features to be added to the Qashqai is ProPILOT driver assistance technology. Used during single-lane driving on a main road, the clever technology helps maintain the car’s lane position and distance from the vehicle in front, which helps make motorway and heavy traffic driving less stressful. The system assists with steering, acceleration and braking and is really optimised for low-speed congestion or high-speed cruising.
ProPILOT is only available on the automatic models with either CVT or DCT gearbox. It is a £595 option for N-Connecta models but is fitted as standard on Tekna and Tekna+ versions.
The 4WD is also reassuring and, although the Qashqai is no serious off-roader, the extra grip is very useful in winter months when driving in poorer weather conditions. It is also handy when pulling a caravan on slippery grass – after all the Qashqai is an all-round family car.
The beauty about competing in a segment brimming over with quality cars is that manufacturers regularly have to up their game – it’s a case of keeping up with the Jones’s but in the motoring world. With that in mind, the latest Qashqai is far more refined than the model it replaced and that goes for engines, transmissions, styling, comfort and noise control.
From the outside, the Qashqai has an athletic stance with body-coloured bumpers, handles and mirrors. There is rear privacy glass, chrome glass surrounds, a panoramic glass sunroof, a rear roof spoiler, silver roof rails, a V-Motion front grille and 19-inch Diamond Cut alloy wheels.
The interior is equally impressive with a clutter-free, yet feature-rich layout. There is upmarket part-leather upholstery, carbon-effect dashboard trim and ambient lighting to name just a few features.
The 1.7-litre diesel engine is deceptively quiet unless pushed really hard and the latest Xtronic automatic gearbox is super slick too.
The car is well insulated and protects occupants from any road surface or engine noise, although you will hear a little wind sound when motorway driving – this is quite the norm for high-sided compact SUVs.
Special mention also goes to the car’s highly effective suspension system that does a very worthy job of smoothing out bumps and dips along the way.
In The Car
There is ample seat and steering wheel adjustment in the Qashqai with the driver benefitting from a power-operated seat. The elevated driving position results in fairly good visibility, although the sloping rear screen is quite narrow compared to some rivals.
The interior has an upmarket feel to it with part-leather seats, carbon-effect dashboard trim, chrome interior door handles, a D-shaped leather steering wheel, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof.
The Qashqai is also kitted out with a generous amount of kit, including the new NissanConnect seven-inch touchscreen navigation and entertainment system, a pitch perfect Bose sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth with audio streaming, automatic dual-zone climate control with pollen filter, heated front seats and plenty more besides.
All controls, dials and readouts are easy to use on the move and there is a nice simplicity to the way things work. It takes a matter of seconds to connect up a smartphone or enter a destination into the car’s sat-nav system and the touchscreen is also nice and responsive, apart from the occasional pause which can be quite frustrating.
Competition is exceptionally stiff in the compact SUV sector and while the latest Qashqai is not the most spacious option or the most practical, it does cover all the bases fairly well. Passenger space is great upfront and absolutely fine for a couple of youngsters in the back. However, sit adults one behind the other and leg space becomes a tad restricted, especially if the front seats are pushed well back.
The boot has a capacity of 430 litres, but this was reduced to 401 litres on our test car because the Bose speakers eat into the storage space. Fold the 60:40 split-folding rear seats flat and that limit increases to 1,598 litres – or rather 1,569 litres in our case. There is a clever double boot floor with lots of hidden compartments too which is a plus point.
Another feature on our car was the panoramic sunroof which, despite letting light flood into the cabin, does impact upon the headspace available.
In addition, there are front cup holders, rear cupholders in the drop-down central armrest, a glovebox, door pockets with space for a large bottle, plus a large central cubby box with the USB socket to connect your phone.
Access is simple enough with wide-opening doors and the low lip on the boot makes loading awkwardly-shaped or heavier items much easier.
The original Qashqai was sold with the option of seven seats, but that facility is no longer available.
The Nissan Qashqai line-up is priced from £19,995 for the entry-level Visia model and rises to £35,595 for the Tekna+ version.
Our test car, in near range-topping Tekna grade, was priced at £33,315 although the optional Vivid Blue metallic paint added an extra £575 to the total.
Under more stringent WLTP testing, this car could deliver a combined 40.9 to 41.2mpg with carbon emissions of 154g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first-year Vehicle Excise Charge of £855 which would drop down to the basic £145 after 12 months.
The insurance group rating for the test car was 19.
Nissan enjoys an okay reputation when it comes to reliability which is one of the reasons the Qashqai has proven such a popular car with the masses.
The Tekna model looks and feels like it will survive the test of time with smart upholstery, lots of wipe-clean surfaces and doors that close with a nice reassuring thud.
The car comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. But there are ways to extend the cover via the Nissan Care warranty. This covers all original vehicle components and is designed specifically for cars up to three years old. There are four plans priced from £210 – they are 12 months up to 60,000 miles; 12 months up to 80,000 miles; 24 months up to 100,000 miles and 36 months up to 120,000 miles. Pan-European Nissan assistance is included in these plans.
In addition, the Nissan Care Extended Warranty is available to provide peace of mind for owners of older models. The Ultimate package covers vehicles aged from three to seven years having clocked up no more than 75,000 miles, while the Premium policy covers Nissan vehicles aged seven to 10 years up to 100,000 miles.
Nissan packs its cars with safety features and driver assistance aids and the latest Qashqai, which gained the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP when it was tested, is another fine example of that.
As well as more standard features such as anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, Isofix fixtures, tyre pressure monitoring, rear door child-locks and a full suite of airbags, the car comes with Nissan’s Safety Shield+ package that introduces intelligent driver alert, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and moving object detection.
The test car also featured a Smart Vision pack as standard and that added an anti-dazzle rearview mirror, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist, lane departure warning, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, plus front and rear parking sensors.
Many of these innovative safety systems would be optional extras on other cars, but they are vitally important and it’s nice to see Nissan including them in the standard cost. Our car also boasted all-wheel drive to keep you on the road during more adverse weather and driving conditions.
The Nissan Qashqai is fitted with an immobiliser and Thatcham alarm system to keep intruders at bay.