Nissan Qashqai review
The Nissan Qashqai is British-built and comfortably the country’s favourite crossover SUV - what’s not to like?
The Nissan Qashqai took the UK by storm when it went on sale back in 2006. It was a bold move by the Japanese car maker – replacing its Ford Focus-rivalling Almera with a pumped-up crossover – but it worked. Fitting the SUV-sized family car with two-wheel drive and a selection of economical petrol and diesel engines won over hoards of buyers, regularly featuring in the list of the UK's top selling cars.
While Nissan has now introduced the Pulsar, effectively a return to the Volkswagen Golf-sized five-door hatchback market, the Qashqai is still as desirable as ever. The range includes 4x4 and front-wheel-drive versions with manual or automatic gearboxes while prices remain competitive compared to hatchback rivals and crossovers like the Skoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5.
Launched earlier this year, the second-generation Nissan Qashqai takes over from where the old one left off but has moved the game on a bit too. While it may not be as game-changing as the model it replaces, there are significant improvements to the safety and multimedia technology available, not to mention the build quality.
There are five trims available on the new Qashqai: Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium, n-tec and Tekna. Nissan has long been committed to constantly improving the Qashqai and the Japanese brand introduced the aforementioned n-tec+ in October 2014, giving customers even more value for money.
Inside it’s spacious and there’s a simple engine line-up of one petrol and two diesels. But those who remember the old Qashqai+2 seven-seater will be disappointed with the new Qashqai as it is only available with five-seats. For two more seats, buyers should look towards the Nissan X-Trail instead.
Our choice: Nissan Qashqai n-tec DIG-T 115 6-speed manual
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One thing is for certain: the second-generation Nissan Qashqai looks far more upmarket than the original model. The overall shape is typical crossover, with a raised ride height, roof rails and black plastic trim giving a familiar rugged off-roader look.
Up front, the Nissan Qashqai features a sharp nose with angular headlamps and distinctive LED running lights, while the twin chrome bars on the grille add a touch of interest. At the back, the LED tail-lamps wrap around the corners of the car and on to the tailgate. The optional Ink Blue paint also really helps the Qashqai to stand out. On top-of-the-range Nissan Qashqai Tekna models, 19-inch alloys come as standard, while mid-range n-tec cars get 18-inch versions and Acenta cars sport 17-inch wheels.
Inside, the Nissan looks sharp and feels well built. There are sporty cowled dials and a full-colour trip computer display, while coloured ambient lighting on the centre console and gloss black trim on the dashboard give an upmarket feel.
The rest of the cabin is pretty smart, and while the standard panoramic glass roof doesn’t open fully, it lets in plenty of light. Choosing Acenta trim over the Tekna means you have to forego leather for cloth.
The Nissan Qashqai Acenta comes with decent levels of kit, including climate control, Bluetooth and automatic lights and wipers. However, you’ll have to fork out £495 for front and rear parking sensors and a whole load of other safety gear, while sat-nav isn’t even an option – you’ll have to upgrade to the n-tec version for this desirable kit.
The diesel engines available on the Nissan Qashqai come from sister company Renault. While the 1.5-litre diesel dCi has been around for a while, constant development means it revs smoothly and is subdued at idle, all while returning excellent economy.
It delivers decent performance, too, and feels more lively on the road, thanks to the combination of prompt throttle response and the precise six-speed gearbox’s well chosen ratios.
The fastest Qashqai in the range is the DIG-T 163, introduced in January 2015. It'll do 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and so long as you stay on top of the gears, feels pretty quick on the move. However, if you change up too early you'll hit a nasty flat spot – forcing you to wait for the turbo to spool back up.
The old Nissan Qashqai was surprisingly fun to drive, but the latest model takes a more mature approach. Refinement has been vastly improved, with much less road and engine noise, particularly on the motorway.
In a series of corners, the Qashqai feels composed and the electrically assisted steering is direct and surprisingly weighty, while grip is strong. Active Trace Control torque vectoring helps boost agility, braking individual wheels in order to reduce understeer and deliver more positive turn-in.
Also included is Nissan’s Active Engine Brake function, which reduces jerkiness in the transmission when you lift off the throttle. Plus, the Body Motion Control constantly dabs the brakes to smooth out body movement over bumps. It works well, particularly at low speed, but hit a series of imperfections and the ride gets fidgety as the brakes and dampers fight to keep control.
This is rarely a problem around town, where the high driving position, light controls and decent visibility make the Nissan easy to navigate through crowded streets. Unfortunately, only the range-topping Tekna gets park assist (which steers the car into parking spaces) and a 360-degree camera system.
The new Nissan Qashqai was marked down for reliability and build quality in our Driver Power 2014 customer satisfaction survey, but it ranked 21st out of 150 cars.
Safety experts at Euro NCAP awarded the new Qashqai the full five stars, with the car scoring well in the adult and child occupant categories.
Nissan has improved things with its Safety Shield technology, which features heavily in the new Qashqai. It comprises clever features like front collision avoidance (autonomous braking), lane departure warning, drowsiness detection, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition and cameras to help you park and detect moving objects behind when you’re reversing – the Qashqai will park itself, too.
The seven-seater Nissan Qashqai +2 is no more – the new Qashqai offers more space for passengers and luggage than before in response to owner feedback. Anyone wanting seven seats will have to opt for the new Nissan X-Trail instead.
Overall, though, there’s still decent legroom in the rear, and the transmission tunnel doesn’t intrude on the middle-seat passenger’s foot space.
However, the Acenta Premium grades and above come with a panoramic glass roof, which cuts into headroom. There’s more space in models without this addition, but the combination of small side windows and black trim makes the Qashqai’s cabin quite dark.
As you’d expect of a car aimed at families, the interior is packed full of useful storage. There’s a large glovebox and several cubbies that are perfect for odds and ends. An electric handbrake also frees up the centre console for extra stowage and cup-holders, which have been mounted lower down so as to not impinge when changing gear.
The Qashqai’s 430-litre luggage area is impressive, and also features a flat loading lip and base, plus it benefits from a clever false floor that doubles as a boot divider. Fold the rear bench seat flat and the capacity increases to 1,585 litres. Better still, there’s a compartment under the boot floor for storing the parcel shelf.
The new Nissan Qashqai is impressively economical, especially the 1.5dCi diesel, which claims 74.3mpg and is road tax free with excellent CO2 figures of 99g/km. That means it’ll be a good company car, too.
The 1.6-litre diesel is similarly frugal claiming 65.7mpg and 115g/km of CVT, while opting for the excellent Xtronic CVT auto on this model only penalises things slightly with 62.8mpg and 119g/km.
If you must have a petrol Qashqai, a 1.2-litre turbo offers the same performance as the old 1.6 but will do an impressive 57.6mpg (129g/km), while the new 1.6-litre DIG-T will return 47.1mpg (138g/km) and is the fastest model in the range.
Qashqai prices are on par with rivals but equipment levels tend to be slightly higher, especially in terms of safety kit. The best value trim is the n-tec – offering a simply staggering amount of kit for the cash.