Road Test: Nissan Qashqai
Sharp new looks, plus added practicality should keep Qashqai buyers coming back, finds Martyn Collins.
SECTOR Crossover PRICE £23,535-£34,175 FUEL 40.2-44.5mpg CO2 143-158g/km
While the Qashqai is made by a Japanese company, it is more British than you might expect. After all it was designed in London, developed in Bedfordshire and is built at Nissan’s UK factory in Sunderland.
The original, and best-selling crossover since 2007, now moves into its third generation, gaining revised engines, new tech and a new version of the Alliance’s CMF-C architecture, which on top of being 60kg lighter, is also 35mm longer, 32mm wider and 10mm higher. That extra length is most noticeable in the back, where the additional 28mm of knee room is very welcome.
It also brings a new look. Like the Juke before it, the latest Qashqai gets the same family ‘V-motion’ grille, then there are the boomerang-style headlights and the distinctive air curtains in the front air dam. More sharp creases, a standard two-tone roof and 20-inch alloy wheels are key identifiers for the rest of the Qashqai’s new design.
The interior is marked out by increased use of soft-touch plastics and the 10.8-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch TFT display for the instruments. Overall, quality is much improved – although it doesn’t feel much different from the outgoing car.
Nissan has also listened to feedback from current Qashqai owners in the design of the third-generation car. This can be seen in the rear doors – which open wider – and the extra lights in the 480-litre boot.
Overall, the new Qashqai has a comfortable driving position and a well-laid-out, well-equipped interior – there’s a massive list of standard safety equipment alone – with welcome physical buttons and rotary dials, rather than confusing extra screens on the touchscreen menu.
Despite the all-new exterior and interior, engine line-up will stick with the familiar 1.3-litre DIG-T turbocharged petrol engine – available in 138 and 156hp versions and with 12V mild hybrid assistance – until Nissan’s innovative 187hp, 1.5-litre e-Power full hybrid petrol is available later this year.
We got to drive manual and Xtronic CVT automatic versions of the 156hp petrol, in Tekna and Tekna+ trims respectively. First up was the manual Tekna, with combined fuel consumption of 44.5mpg and 145g/km emissions. Despite the added torque from the small electric motor, this engine feels a bit flat until you get past 2,000rpm. Happy to be revved, but it does get coarser the harder you work it – so is at its best in the mid-range.
The six-speed manual is slick enough, although it seemed to surge between gears, making smoother changes harder than they should have been.
Next, we drove the Tekna+ automatic, which gets 20-inch alloy wheels as standard and has a combined fuel consumption of 40.2mpg and 158g/km emissions. It’s a smoother and more refined combination, but it has to be worked harder to perform.
This Qashqai’s steering is far keener and more precise than before and the handling is tidy. The ride is firm – especially on the largest 20-inch wheels – but no worse thanks to the use of more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension.
Better-looking, with higher levels of standard equipment and it’s keener to drive. The original crossover should keep its crown, despite keen rivals.
Key Fleet Model: Tekna DiG-T 156 mild hybrid
Strengths: Good to drive, more practical than before
Weaknesses: Firm ride, no hybrid version yet
Fleet World Star Rating