Pros: Looks great, much-improved interior, good to drive, sweet engines, as practical as ever
Cons: Base 1.2 is perhaps a bit tepid, very little else
Trim range: Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium, Tekna
Petrol engines: 1.2 DIG-T (115)
Diesel engines: 1.5 dCi (110), 1.6 dCi (130)
Gearboxes: Six-speed manual, six-speed CVT auto
What is the Nissan Qashqai?
The Nissan Qashqai is the original crossover family car, a breakthrough model that combined hatchback with SUV in sector-defining fashion. It’s since gone on to be a firm UK favourite, often appearing in the top 10 best seller charts: the trick with this all-new second generation car was thus to improve on the few bits it didn’t do well while also maintaining all the customer-drawing appeal. A tricky balance… has Nissan managed it?
It’s a mix of familiar diesels and new petrol engines with the Qashqai. Nissan’s improved the two dCi diesels but they’re largely the same as before – they were strong enough not to need replacement. We’d go for the punchy 1.6 dCi if you can, but the 1.5 dCi isn’t overwhelmed so long as you don’t expect neck-snapping pace.
The new 1.2 turbo entry-level petrol is not fast either, but it is satisfyingly easy to drive – the turbo torque makes it a meek but reassuring drive that doesn’t need pedalling as hard as the old 1.6. Even so, some will be pleased to hear a faster 1.6 turbo is on the way.
Ride and handling
Nissan struck gold with the original Qashqai, which had a fine balance of ride comport and handling stability. The new one is even better, you’ll be pleased to hear: handling is even more confidence-inspiring yet the ride is even quieter and more pliant.
As before, Nissan offers four-wheel drive versions of some models, giving even more stability and foursquare traction when conditions get slippery or wintry. Only around 1 in 10 will choose all-wheel traction, though.
Behind the wheel
Dashboard and driving position
This is the single biggest area of improvement for the Nissan Qashqai: compared to the old model the dashboard is a revelation. Much more stylish and attractive in appearance, it now feels more like a posh SUV than a downmarket MPV, and is packed with features.
The driving position is still good, with a sit-up, commanding feel that’s a key part of the Qashqai’s appeal. Pedals and controls are well placed and the extra clarity of the new dashboard means it’s even more straightforward to use. Much ergonomic design work has gone into the seats and, believe us, they’re very comfortable and supportive.
Nissan is leading the way in the crossover sector here – not just because the Qashqai offers a fine sit-up view out as standard, but because it is also available with an ingenious Smart Vision Pack – including lane departure warning, traffic signal recognition, front collision avoidance and high beam assist. If you don’t see it, the car will - and it works so well, cars fitted with it actually have an insurance rating three groups lower!
Gadgets and technology
- The Nissan Smart Vision Pack is a brilliant gadget that will draw many to the model, but it’s just one of many fitted to the Qashqai – this is a car with sector-leading technological functionality.
- Smartphone connectivity: Every Qashqai is fitted with Bluetooth as standard, so pairing a smartphone is child’s play.
- Navigation: Nissan Connect infotainment system is standard on Acenta Premium and Tekna – it even offers Google ‘send to car’ remote functionality.
- Personalisation: Plenty of configurability with Acenta and Tekna models, much of which is controlled through the colour in-dash ‘Combimeter’ display.
- Audio: A little disappointing – the standard system only offers four speakers, while even trading up a trim line only extends this to six. DAB only comes in with the Acenta Premium model too.
- Internet: Higher-end Nissan Connect systems offer internet access, and they can also.
- Can it Tweet or Facebook: … access social media channels too.
- What is the standout gadget on the Nissan Qashqai? The Nissan Connect system is laden with functionality – it’s well worth choosing an Acenta Premium model to get it as standard.
Passenger space and practicality
The new Qashqai is a bit longer and wider than before – and although it’s a bit lower, it does mean interior space is even better than it was. Rear passengers in particular will find comfort in the back to be extremely pleasing… Nissan’s even put great effort into making sure the rear bench seat itself is comfortable.
Nissan hasn’t forgotten the boot – not only is it bigger at 439 litres, it’s also much more practical. There’s an ingenuous boot floor that can be folded to stop bags rolling about (albeit not on standard Visia models), while the underfloor storage is useful too (even if this does mean there’s no spare wheel).
Nissan reckons it now has the quietest vehicle in this sector – the new Qashqai is a very refined model indeed. The improved engines help here, as does tireless work on aerodynamic optimisation. Pity there are no top-end stereo systems to maximise it.
Safety is not in question – it’s performed well for Euro NCAP and has so many active safety gadgets you’d have to think it would be pretty hard to crash it in the first place. The Tekna even comes with Safety Shield as standard, which will detect any moving objects you may have missed.
Running Costs/Value for Money/Pricing
Guess what – more big improvements here. The 1.2 petrol averages 50.4mpg and emits 129g/km CO2, while the 1.5 dCi now comes in remarkable 99g/km, 74.3mpg guise. Even the punchy 1.6 can average 64.2mpg – and fitting four-wheel drive doesn’t destroy this either, with an average of over 57mpg. Fine work, Nissan.
You never have any doubts over the build quality of Japanese models: they have a reputation for bulletproof reliability for good reason. The Sunderland factory that exclusively builds the Qashqai has its work further enhanced here by Nissan’s choice of higher quality materials: it feels rich and plush inside, which will ensure it has showroom appeal when compared to class leaders such as the Volkswagen Golf.
Price and equipment
The Qashqai is reasonably keenly priced on paper, with Visia models starting at £17,595. These include climate control, colour HD infotainment screen and cruise control with speed limiter. The one you really want, though, is the Acenta, which starts from £19,145 but adds dual zone climate control, smart alloys, clever boot and auto lights. Move further up and the gadgets become even more appealing… but the prices move up accordingly too.
Value for money
The Qashqai is decent value, particularly the low-tax 1.5 dCi. The Visia misses out on some of the features that make it appealing but the Acenta range – and its many high-value options pack derivatives – is pretty decent value for money. It’s certainly comparable with models like the Volkswagen Golf.
Family hatchbacks are key challengers for the Qashqai – the Golf, Ford Focus, SEAT Leon and so on. So too are SUVs, though: people trade down from Toyota RAV4s in to the Qashqai, for example. Such is its universal appeal, it draws customers far and wide, something that this even more stylish version should only enhance further.
The Nissan Qashqai is a cracker. Better than ever, it’s been deservedly popular and now deserves even more success. All the bits that weren’t quite so hot on the old one have been fixed, and nothing has been spoilt in the process. Family car buyers, this should definitely be on your shopping list.