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.
Bigger, bolder and better equipped than ever, the latest Qashqai is packed with hi-tech safety kit and, as before, there’s the option of four-wheel drive and an uprated CVT automatic gearbox.
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.
Nissan's designers have given the new Qashqai a more upmarket look than the original. You still get some rugged plastic body cladding and a raised ride height, but the swept-back headlamps, bold chrome grille and LED tail-lights give the British-built machine more premium appeal.
Entry-level Visia models get steel wheels, although the Acenta has 16-inch alloys, neatly integrated LED running lights and chrome-ringed foglamps. The premium makeover continues inside, with more grown-up styling and soft-touch materials.
Unfortunately, the new car abandons its predecessor’s chunky dash design in favour of a more sensible layout that wouldn’t look out of place in a standard family hatchback. Still, it’s logically laid-out and faultlessly put together, while the piano-black trim on the centre console helps lift the ambience.
Our Acenta test model comes with decent kit, including climate control, Bluetooth and automatic lights and wipers. However, you’ll have to fork out an extra £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.
Nissan has worked hard on the new Qashqai to make it feel secure and comfortable on the road, and its efforts have paid off. The ride has a firm edge, but that’s more about feeling the road than aiming for sporty handling – it never feels harsh, even on the bigger wheels of posher models.
Nissan’s clever Chassis Control systems use the car’s electronics to aid handling and ride comfort, yet doesn’t intrude on the driving experience. This isn’t a sporty car but the steering is reasonably responsive and a hot Qashqai Nismo is in the pipeline to appease keener drivers.
Guide the car through a series of corners and you’ll discover safe and predictable handling. The electrically assisted steering is direct and surprisingly weighty, plus grip is strong. Active Trace Control torque vectoring also helps boost agility, braking individual wheels to reduce understeer. However, unlike rival systems, you’re always aware of the set-up working as it tries to keep the Qashqai on its line.
Also included is Body Motion Control, which constantly dabs the brakes in an effort to keep in check any body movement over bumps. It works well, but hit a series of imperfections and the ride gets fidgety as the brakes and dampers fight to smooth things out.
This is rarely a problem at low speeds and around town, where the high driving position, light controls and decent visibility make the Nissan easy to thread through crowded streets. On the motorway, the car is comfortable and refined, although the calm of the cabin is disrupted by some distracting wind noise around the screen pillars and mirrors.
The pick of the engines is the smooth and punchy 1.5-litre diesel. It’s a better bet than the 1.6-litre diesel, although you have to go for that if you want the excellent, smooth and responsive Xtronic CVT automatic gearbox.
Nissan Safety Shield technology features heavily in the new Nissan Qashqai, comprising 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 Qashqai has been a consistent top 10 finisher in our annual Driver Power satisfaction surveys, and only tumbled to 61st place in our 2013 results. Owners of the old Qashqai reserved particular criticism for the poor quality, but the new car feels much more robustly built.
The 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.
Despite similar exterior dimensions, the new Qashqai can’t compete with the boxy Skoda Yeti for cabin space. Even so, there’s still decent legroom in the rear, plus the transmission tunnel doesn’t intrude on the middle-seat passenger’s foot space.
However, the Acenta Premium in our pictures had 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 14 litres bigger than the Yeti’s and a healthy 68 litres up on the Vauxhall Mokka’s. It 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.