Nissan Qashqai review
The Nissan Qashqai has become a huge sales success in the UK, thanks to its stylish looks, a quality interior and low running costs
The Nissan Qashqai is considered to be the first crossover model – a car with the versatility and raised ride-height of an SUV, but with the low running costs and compact dimensions of a family hatchback. Since its launch in 2007, a slew of rivals have been launched - including the Skoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Peugeot 3008 – but a facelift in 2010 has helped to maintain its popularity, with more than a million sold worldwide. The Qashqai is not as spacious as some of its rivals and comes at a hefty price (it’s only slightly cheaper than the more premium Volkswagen Tiguan), but there are high specifications to be had, and a good range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, including an efficient 1.6-litre dCi engine with CO2 emissions of only 119g/km.
Our choice: Qashqai 1.6 dCi n-tec+
The Nissan Qashqai hasn't changed much since its introduction in 2007 but it was given a mild facelift in 2010 to help keep it looking fresh. It gets chunky SUV looks and a raised ride-height but has dimensions in line with cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, which makes it very easy to manoeuvre around town. As to specifications, all cars get alloy wheels but high-spec 360 and Tekna models get a styling upgrade, with 18-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof. The SUV overtones continue once you’re behind the wheel, with a high-set driving position that will certainly please fans of off-roaders. The interior quality is pretty robust, too, and most of the switchgear feels solid if a little dated in places - and entry-level Visia models come very little equipment fitted as standard.
The Qashqai is surprisingly adept in corners. The steering - while lacking in feel - is fluid and direct, which allows for precise turn-in. A taut body and well-controlled suspension mean the Qashqai rolls slightly, but then maintains its composure. As a result, it’s agile and reassuring. Under braking, it’s very stable and feels well controlled, while the ride is impressive, too. The 1.6-litre dCi is our pick of the range, as it’s powerful, very refined and smooth. The 2.0-litre dCi and 1.6-litre petrol are both impressive, too, but the 1.5-litre dCi can feel a bit underpowered and rattles quite loudly on start-up. Most versions come with a short-throw six-speed gearbox as standard, but some can be had with a six-speed automatic or rather noisy CVT. The 2.0-litre diesel and petrol models are also available with a four-wheel-drive system for an extra £1,500.
The Qashqai boasts a good safety record, with a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. There’s a range of electronic gadgets to keep you out of trouble, including six airbags, ESP, ABS and brake assist. Nissan reliability is generally accepted to be superb, too, and the brand finished fourth in the 2012 Driver Power reliability survey. The Qashqai itself finished a strong sixth, with an overall score of 88.87 per cent. Owners praised it for its smooth ride quality (for which is finished in ninth place) and its overall technology, for which it finished fourth. However in September 2012, Nissan announced that it would be recalling 7,300 Qashqai models in the UK over a fault that can lead to the steering wheel coming away in the hands of the driver. It was part of a worldwide recall that affected 51,000 of the British-built crossover.
The Qashqai has 410 litres of boot space, which increases to 1,513 litres with the seats folded – this is marginally less than the Peugeot 3008 and 250 litres less than the Skoda Yeti. However, the boot is a useful shape and the rear seats fold conventionally, with a standard 60:40 split. There’s lots of clever storage space, too, including a cavernous compartment in the centre console. Thanks to its chunky dimensions, forward visibility is excellent and with a simple cabin layout, it’s comfortable and easy to live with. There’s a decent amount of legroom in the rear seats but the roofline slopes down towards the tailgate, making headroom a bit tight for anyone over six-feet tall. The biggest problem, though is that the thick C-pillars and small rear screen restrict visibility. Fortunately, Nissan includes parking sensors as standard and higher spec cars get a colour rear-view parking camera. If you need even more space, the Qashqai+2 offers seven seats for an extra £1,400 over the price of the standard car.
The diesel engines all offer decent fuel consumption. The 1.6 dCi comes with a stop-start system and returns 62.8mpg and boasts CO2 emissions of as low as 119g/km, which is great for company car drivers and private buyers alike, and matches the firgure of the Skoda Yeti Greeline. It also qualifies for a low insurance group, which should help to keep premiums in check. The slower, less powerful, 1.5 dCi is cheaper to buy but not quite as efficient, with official figures of 54.3mpg and 129g/km. Unfortunately, relatively short 12,500-mile service intervals and a three-year warranty that is limited to 60,000 miles will bump up running costs compared to rivals that offer cheap servicing bundles.