Nissan Qashqai Review
Nissan bring some updates to the best selling crossover on the market, but have they done enough?
- Much improved front end
- More tactile materials
- Improved ride dynamics
- Some alternatives have bigger boots
- Price has crept up
- Interior still needs work
The Qashqai has proved itself as Nissan’s greatest success story, and in Europe it is the manufacturer's most triumphant model ever. The model first hit the showrooms back in 2007, ten years later and it is currently the third best selling car in the UK (year to date at the time of writing.) Boasting a 10.3% segment share, Nissan can rightly claim the Qashqai is the ultimate urban crossover. In 2017, there’s been a few tweaks to bring the car up to date and Nissan say that every single upgrade that they have made is based on the feedback of owners. Let’s see how good it is then...
On the Road
We took the new 1.6-litre petrol out for a spin, the bigger petrol option instead of the 1.2 Dig-T. This larger engine is the fastest of the lineup, with a 0-60mph time of just 9.1 seconds thanks to a hefty 161bhp. The Qashqai certainly feels quick enough for its size when paired with this petrol, and perhaps you could say that is a bit too much for drivers who aren’t typically as engaged while getting from A to B, whom should instead opt for the 1.2 which is still quick enough, but also more economical and cheaper to insure.
Motorway drivers have a tough decision to make if they’re buying diesel. You’ve got the tried and tested 1.5 dCi engine, which is the most economical and has a nice amount of torque considering it has just 130 bhp. The alternative is the 1.6-litre diesel which packs a more fruity 160bhp at the cost of some MPGs. To aid your decision; if you do motorway miles then the diesel options are great, if you generally spend most of your time around town then the petrol options are more than suffice. If you like to enjoy and engage with the drive every now and then, choose the more powerful options, if your car is just a tool that is driven sedately then you won’t have complaints with either of the two lesser powered engines.
One key upgrade that Nissan have made is a strengthened front anti-roll bar. You’d have to test the new model and the old model side by side to definitively notice the improvements, but the Qashqai now feels a bit more composed in the bends, though not quite as agile as the incredibly dynamic alternatives from Mazda, but not far off.
In the suspension, Nissan have re-tuned the dampers and springs to suit what most buyers use the car for. Naturally, this is a crossover that can happily tackle big miles on motorways and also weave through pot-hole ridden suburbia with real comfort. I’d say that 90% of buyers will be satisfied with how the Qashqai now rides and composes itself under normal driving. Current Qashqai owners will be pleasantly surprised with how assured the new model feels due to the mechanical changes. It does drive rather well, but does it drive better than the SEAT Ateca? We’re not sure. The Ateca had previously been a bit more expensive than the Qashqai, but they’re now pretty much neck and neck in terms of how much kit you get for your money. Speculative buyers should certainly be shortlisting and comparing them both.
One of the key pillars that Nissan targeted when designing this new Qashqai is further reducing the noise, vibration and harshness of the car. As mentioned, re-tuned suspension parts have helped greatly soften the ride, and although 19” alloys are available, the 18” rims offer the best compromise between road comfort and aesthetics.
Nissan has packed the car doors with new insulation which keeps the cabin hushed while also housing the impressive surround sound BOSE system which is fitted on Tekna models. There have also been some tinkering with the steering column to reduce the vibrations emitted from the road through to the driver's hands. This is very difficult to measure against the old model but this new one certainly didn’t feel jittery at all, which is a good thing.
In the car
The steering wheel itself is one of the most blatant upgrades to the Qashqai. You don’t realise just how plastic-y and basic the old wheel was until you line it up alongside the new version… like we have done here. The wheel on the left is the old model, the right is the new one. This new wheel is much more ergonomic, with a 17% larger gap to see the dials through, a thicker girth to grapple and better quality controls to fiddle with.
Elsewhere, you’ll notice some lovely leather knee-pads on the centre console, which is in line with the interior styling changes made elsewhere in the Nissan range. Our Tekna model had the half leather seats which, in all honesty, I preferred more than the full leather seats in the Tekna+ - but this is largely subjective and if you’re thinking of buying a new Qashqai I’d recommend seeing which set of seats suits you best. Both are electronically adjustable though, which is always nice!
The Qashqai boasts a useable 430 litres of luggage space in the boot, which extends to 1,585 litres when you fold the seats down. Now with the rear row flattened, that’s quite an impressive figure, but with the rear seats in place the Qashqai is lagging slightly behind the Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca in terms of capacity.
In the cabin, much like the in the old Qashqai, this new model has plenty of room for 2 adults and 3 children - perfect for family buyers - and for shorter journeys, 3 adults wouldn’t have too many complaints about sharing the rear seats, although it could prove uncomfortable on long trips.
Headroom is fine throughout the car and buyers who change up from hatchback cars will quickly appreciate just how much more comfortable and practical it is to get in a Qashqai - especially with children.
Insurance-wise, the Qashqai sits between groups 14 and 19 - so it’s pretty affordable. Then you’ve got the fuel efficiency to think about. The 1.5 Diesel is the most efficient, returning 74.3mpg combined, then the 1.6 Diesel returns 65.7mpg. Third in terms of efficiency is the 1.2-litre petrol which will give you 57.6 mpg and finally the 1.6 turbo petrol (which we tested most thoroughly) offers just over 50 mpg, which is still pretty impressive for a relatively powerful crossover.
Reliability isn’t a problem with the Qashqai, considering how many are built and sold in the UK, they’re pretty sturdy machines and have done well to stand the test of time so far - we’d imagine this will continue with the new model. The quality of the 2017 Qashqai is a marked improvement though. The interior changes all add up to make the car feel as though it’s from the segment above, there are material and styling choices that wouldn’t go amiss in the premium sector. Then, on the outside, you’ve got some really gorgeous Full LED headlights with attractive daytime running LEDs. The tail lights are full LED too and they smoothly bend around the rear corners of the car and through onto the boot lid.
From Spring 2018, Nissan will be rolling out their ProPilot technology to the Qashqai lineup. This will be the manufacturer’s first step toward fully autonomous driving and will use clever tech like lane-keeping, adaptive sensory cruise control and self braking. The ProPilot technology will aim to do the most mundane parts of your journey on your behalf. ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ will be a function ideal for congested motorways during rush hour where it will sit in one single lane and do the braking, accelerating and steering so you don’t have to.
All this kit will likely be optional on the Qashqai up until the Tekna specification where it should be standard. Speculative buyers who want this tech will be better off waiting before they buy their Qashqai as it’s not quite ready for the first cars to roll off the production line. Nissan apologised but stressed that they just can’t rush safety technology like this, which makes sense.