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Road Test: Nissan Qashqai

By / 4 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

The segment-defining crossover is back at the head of the pack, says Craig Thomas.

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SECTOR Crossover   PRICE £19,295-£32,530   FUEL 48.7-74.3mpg   CO2 99-134g/kmWhen Nissan first launched the Qashqai in 2007, it’s fair to say that it broke the mould. Widely seen as the first of the new trend for crossovers, it combined the best qualities of the popular hatchback with those of the SUVs that had won a great deal of new fans in the early noughties.

It was an immediate hit, regularly appearing in the top five best-selling cars in the UK in the years since. The second-generation model that went on sale in 2013 didn’t dampen its appeal, either: last year, for example, Nissan shifted 62,682 examples to British customers.

The second-gen car was a classic example of how a carmaker can successful evolve a successful model, developing it without losing its core values. The same is true for the revised Qashqai that goes on sale this summer.

In terms of the exterior design, for example, there are a number of tweaks all around to further sharpen its image and keep it looking contemporary. So, for example, there’s a new front bumper that uses more of the car’s body colour, blending it with gloss-finish black elements; new headlights with greater differentiation between halogen and LED units; a redesigned clamshell bonnet with sharp creases; new rear bumpers and lighting units; new alloy wheels; and a flatter, redesigned badge on the grille that facilitates and hides a radar unit behind, for use with the autonomous emergency braking system.

Nissan talked a lot about the ‘premium’ nature of the changes in the cabin, which is so often a harbinger of disappointment. And, while the introduction of soft-touch materials (especially those on the higher trims we tested), more supportive (but thinner) front seats, new headlinings and stitching, plus a multifunction, flat-bottomed steering wheel are all welcome upgrades, yet again the p-word has been ill-used by a mainstream manufacturer.

What is true, though, is that Nissan has managed to create more space inside. Those slimmer front seats increase rear legroom, while boot capacity with the 60:40 split rear bench folded has also grown slightly.

In terms of the engine range, there’s nothing to write home about. Indeed, there’s nothing at all to write about, as it remains unchanged, with the 1.2 and 1.6 DIG-T petrol units and 1.5 and 1.6 dCi diesels still providing the power.

However, Nissan has changed the dynamic characteristics, with an adjustment to the steering set-up prompted by feedback from owners, to help make it more direct and precise, with less vibration reaching the driver’s hands. The handling is indeed ever-so-slightly improved and consistent, but it’s still not the most engaging car to drive. The ride has also been upgraded with a retuned suspension, so it’s comfortably compliant, though bodyroll could be better controlled.

Also new is the Tekna+ range-topping trim level, which adds features such as nappa leather upholstery and a Bose sound system.What we think

The Qashqai is the leader in the highly popular crossover market – and nothing here suggests that it will lose any ground to its (now numerous) rivals.

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Craig Thomas

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