The Nissan Qashqai Acenta is the mid-spec model of the range, and is expected to be the best-seller, thanks to its reasonable pricing, decent kit and wide range of engines. Like all versions of the Qashqai, it offers 4x4 styling with the space and running costs of a compact hatchback.
There are four engines available: 1.2 and 1.6-litre turbo petrols, plus 1.5 and 1.6-litre diesels. The Acenta model showcases some of Nissan’s in-car technology, and features auto lights and wipers, climate control, ambient interior lighting and the useful luggage board system in the boot.
Move up to Acenta Premium and you also get the Smart Vision Pack, which includes lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and front and rear parking sensors, plus keyless entry, sat-nav, DAB radio and a panoramic glass roof. Upgrading to Acenta Premium adds around £1,800 to the price of Acenta trim, although you can add the Smart Vision Pack to Acenta spec for around £500.
In terms of styling, the second-generation Nissan Qashqai looks like an upmarket product. The overall shape is typical crossover, with a raised ride height, roof rails and black plastic trim giving a familiar rugged off-roader look. Acenta cars get front foglights with chrome rings, 17-inch alloys and chrome trim around the windows, while Nissan’s distinctive Ink Blue paint adds a classy touch, too.
Inside, the Nissan looks sharp and feels well built. There are sporty cowled dials and a full-colour trip computer display, while the 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, although choosing Acenta trim means you get cloth trim and the only way to add leather is to move up to Tekna spec.
The diesel engines available on the Nissan Qashqai come from sister company Renault. While the 1.5 dCi has been around for a while, constant development means it’s relatively smooth and quiet at idle, and it returns excellent economy.
It delivers decent performance, too, and feels lively on the road, thanks to the combination of prompt throttle response and the precise six-speed gearbox.
The original Nissan Qashqai was 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 corners, the Qashqai feels composed and the steering is direct and 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.
The Acenta Premium version of the Nissan Qashqai has a panoramic glass roof, but 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 feel dark.
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.