Nissan QASHQAI Visia 2.0 dCi

The Nissan boasts a strong engine, and a recent facelift has added extra equipment and fresh looks - is it enough to win this test?

Nissan’s Qashqai kickstarted the crossover sector in 2006. Its blend of car-like driving experience, chunky SUV-inspired looks and perky engines helped tempt a legion of buyers away from traditional family hatchbacks.

Now the British-built machine has been given a mid-life refresh in a bid to win it a legion of new fans. The facelift has made the Nissan look better than ever. Along with the new grille, the headlamps, bonnet and wings have been redesigned.

The result is a less clumsy face than before. The combination of shallow windows, muscular detailing and chunky cladding also gives it a purposeful appearance.

Inside, the Nissan offers the most comfortable driving position of the three, sitting low and relaxed, although you still get a commanding view of the road. Cabin revisions include revamped instruments and a new trip computer display.

The quality of materials isn’t a match for the Skoda, but the plastics are better than those in the ASX. Switchgear placing is still a little haphazard, though, and the overall design isn’t as fresh as the exterior.

Dark seat materials, a low roofline and those shallow windows mean rear passengers will feel rather claustrophobic. The boot is also the smallest here, with only a 410-litre capacity. On the road, the Nissan’s soft suspension does a great job of absorbing any bumps or broken surfaces. It’s not as firm as the Skoda, and there is slightly more lean through corners, so it doesn’t inspire quite as much confidence.

However, compared to the Mitsubishi, it offers a very car-like driving experience, with sharp turn-in and great control. The slick six-speed gearbox is a highlight, while the steering provides plenty of feedback.

The most impressive feature is the engine. At the track, the Nissan sprinted from 0-60mph in only 9.8 seconds. It was also the quickest in-gear, apart from the 50-70mph test in sixth, where the longer ratio hampered progress slightly.

Noise under acceleration was noticeable but not intrusive, and when cruising, the Nissan was the quietest car of the three.

The Qashqai’s predecessor was a favourite of ours, and with the recent revisions, the latest model is definitely the best yet. But is it good enough to regain its place at the top of the pile?

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: The car that kick-started the crossover craze. A recent facelift has sharpened the Qashqai’s looks and brought more kit. Is this enough to give it an edge over the new upstarts?

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