Nissan Qashqai review
New Nissan Qashqai ups the practicality, economy and quality with a dash of new technology to tackle its crossover SUV rivals
The Nissan Qashqai is the car that kick-started the crossover revolution when it was launched in 2006. This new 2014 Nissan Qashqai builds on the Qashqai’s original strengths by offering 4x4 styling but with space and running costs to rival a Volkswagen Golf.
Launched at the start of this year, the new Nissan Qashqai has already proven a strong competitor in the crossover class. Power comes from a choice of four engines: 1.2 and 1.6-litre turbo petrols, plus 1.5 and 1.6-litre diesels. The three trim-levels available on the Nissan Qashqai are Acenta, Acenta Premium and the flagship Tekna.
The new Nissan Qashqai adds a huge range of clever in-car technology, some impressively economical petrol and diesel engines and a choice of manual or Xtronic automatic gearboxes. The interior quality is as good as it gets in what is now a crowded crossover class that includes rivals like the Skoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5.
Thanks to extended dimensions, space and practicality inside have been improved - although they’re not class leading and there’ll be no replacement for the 7-seat Qashqai +2 model. There’s more clever tech under the skin too, making sure the new Qashqai is comfortable and secure to drive.
One thing is 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 trim Nissan Qashqai Tekna models, 19-inch wheels come as standard, while Acenta cars get 17-inch alloys.
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 kit, including climate control, Bluetooth and automatic lights and wipers. However, you’ll have to fork out around £450 for rear parking sensors, while sat-nav isn’t even an option – you’ll have to upgrade to the Acenta Premium version for this desirable kit.
The diesel engines available on the Nissan Qashqai come from sister company Renault. While our 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 original 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.
A five-star Euro NCAP score is expected, but Nissan has gone one better 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.
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.
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 Nissan Qashqai has 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 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.
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 and 57.6mpg (129g/km), while a 1.6 turbo will arrive offering 50.4mpg (132g/km). Qashqai prices are on par with rivals but equipment levels tend to be slightly higher, especially in terms of safety kit.