Car group tests

Nissan Qashqai vs SEAT Ateca vs Peugeot 3008

The Nissan Qashqai faces a fight to regain its crossover crown from the Peugeot 3008 and SEAT Ateca

The Qashqai started something in the UK. There had been crossovers before it, but none of them captured the car-buying public’s attention like the Nissan did. This was a model that offered the practicality and appeal of a 4x4, but without the premium price tag, and drivers snapped up Qashqais in their droves.

However, since the original car launched in 2006 the market has moved on at a ferocious pace. While the second-generation model brought more svelte styling and extra tech, it, too, was getting a little long in the tooth compared with the best cars in the class.

Best SUVs for sale

So Nissan has gone back to the drawing board with this facelift, injecting an extra hint of upmarket charm and more modern tech, combined with the same qualities that have made the Qashqai such a hit. Efficiency, practicality, affordability, refinement, driving dynamics, performance – a family crossover has to cover all these bases.

We put the Nissan up against our favourite mid-size SUV, the Peugeot 3008, and the talented SEAT Ateca. So are some mild cosmetic tweaks, a revised infotainment system, plusher interior trim and extra safety kit enough to take the Qashqai back to the top of this class?

Nissan Qashqai

Model:Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta
Price:Price: £25,555
Engine:Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 108bhp
0-60mph:11.6 seconds
Test economy:43.6mpg/9.6mpl
CO2:99g/km
Annual road tax:£140

The success for Nissan, but with newer, more modern rivals eroding the car’s appeal, this new version aims to put it back to the top of the class. Here we test a £25,555 N-Connecta 1.5 dCi model.

The Qashqai’s familiar hardware has been slightly retuned with different spring and damper rates to soften the chassis and improve comfort.

While the difference is marginal, it is noticeable, because the Qashqai feels a bit more compliant over choppy roads, with the suspension absorbing and controlling wheel movements better than before. However, it doesn’t deliver the level of comfort on offer in the 3008, and it’s not as agile as the Ateca.

The car’s anti-roll bar is actually stiffer, to retain composure in corners, but the Nissan isn’t very involving to drive. There’s very little connection to what’s going on at the road surface through the steering, while it doesn’t feel as alert and responsive as its rivals, despite the Qashqai’s dynamic tweaks.

These changes include a retuned Intelligent Ride Control system, which is said to reduce body motion over big bumps, plus Intelligent Trace Control, which applies the brakes to certain wheels in corners to help the car keep a tighter line.

Nissan’s venerable 108bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine is the least powerful of the three and also offers less torque than the Peugeot, at 260Nm. This deficit showed on test, where the Qashqai trailed the Ateca from 0-60mph by more than one second, taking 11.6 seconds.

The outcome was the same during our in-gear tests, where the Nissan was 1.3 seconds slower than the 3008 between 30 and 50mph in fourth, and lagged by 2.2 seconds between 50 and 70mph in sixth. The gearbox also isn’t as sweet as the SEAT’s, with less precision and a woollier feeling to the shift.

Testers’ notes: “The 1.5 dCi engine has been developed for years and, thanks to improvements here, it is extremely refined. It’s quieter than the SEAT’s 1.6 TDI and nearly matches the 3008’s unit.”

Peugeot 3008

Model:Peugeot 3008 1.6 BlueHDi 120 Allure
Price:£26,125
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp
0-60mph:10.8 seconds
Test economy:44.1mpg/9.7mpl
CO2:104g/km
Annual road tax:£140

The 3008 has proven a big hit for Peugeot. It’s our favourite mid-size SUV, and here we test the £26,125 1.6 BlueHDi 120 model in mid-spec Allure trim (our pictures show a GT Line) to match the Qashqai.

The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel is the punchiest unit here, with 118bhp and 300Nm of torque. This showed during our test because the 3008 served up strong in-gear acceleration at the track.

It took a relatively sprightly 11.8 seconds to accelerate between 50 and 70mph in sixth gear, which was 3.2 seconds faster than the Ateca and 2.2 seconds quicker than the Qashqai. This advantage was reinforced in the lower gears between 30 and 50mph, where the 3008 took 3.9 seconds to complete this test in third.

However, the six-speed manual transmission isn’t as willing or as open to fast changes as the SEAT’s more mechanically precise box, which explains the slightly slower 10.8-second 0-60mph time, although it was still eight tenths quicker than the Qashqai.

Outright performance isn’t what these cars are about, and the flexibility provided by the 3008’s extra torque is more welcome. So is the unit’s refinement compared with the SEAT’s noisier engine.

Neither of its rivals delivers as much comfort as the 3008, either. Helped by the EMP2 platform, the damping is plusher. The Peugeot still gets upset by larger, sharper bumps, but it’s less frenetic than the firm Ateca and controls body and wheel movement with more composure than the Qashqai, which tends to jolt over torn roads.

There is a downside, because the small steering wheel, quick steering and soft set-up mean the 3008 rolls a little in corners. It’s also not as quick to change direction, or as sharp through a series of bends as the SEAT, but on the motorway, around town and on sweeping roads the 3008’s ride and handling is well pitched for a family SUV.

Testers’ notes: “There’s some off-road ability, but no 4WD. Instead, you can spec Peugeot’s Grip Control function, which adds clever programming for the ESC to help on different surfaces.”

SEAT Ateca

Model:SEAT Ateca 1.6 TDI Ecomotive SE Technology
Price:£24,330
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 113bhp
0-60mph:10.4 seconds
Test economy:45.7mpg/10.1mpl
CO2:119g/km
Annual road tax:£140

The Ateca was SEAT’s first foray into the SUV market. There’s a larger off-roader on the way, but for now the Spanish manufacturer’s crossover debut is still breaking new ground for the firm. We test the 1.6 TDI in £24,330 SE Technology spec to see if it can beat its competitors here.

The SEAT isn’t as refined as the other cars on test, though. Its 113bhp 1.6 TDI is louder than the downsized diesels fitted to its rivals. With only 250Nm of torque (the least here), it also wasn’t as quick in gear at the test track. The Ateca took 15 seconds to accelerate between 50 and 70mph in sixth, although it was faster than the Nissan in the lower gears.

Good traction off the line and a lovely, precise six-speed manual transmission meant the Ateca was actually the fastest car over the 0-60mph benchmark sprint, clocking 10.4 seconds. The gearbox allows you to make up time going up the ratios, whereas you have to be slower and more methodical in the other models.

Along with the steering – which offers the nicest weighting and greatest connection to the car here – it’s the best choice if you value driver involvement above all else, but in this class comfort and refinement are likely to be more important.

The Ateca doesn’t hit the heights of the Peugeot here because the firmer set-up means you feel more from the road surface when on the move. It’s not as compliant over country roads, either, and while the SEAT retains good composure thanks to a level of grip that would rival a hatchback, it doesn’t smooth out broken surfaces as adeptly as the 3008.

The noisier engine also means the Ateca is less relaxing on a cruise, while the lack of torque only compounds this. You have to work the engine and gearbox harder, revving it more, so the diesel drone is all the more apparent.

Testers’ notes: “Unless you do lots of miles every year, a diesel might not be the best bet. All three cars here offer a downsized turbo petrol alternative that will be cheaper to buy.”

Verdict

First place: Peugeot 3008

The 3008 might be the priciest car here, however you buy it, but it delivers more for your money, especially now PCP deals have been published. It has a higher-quality feel, gets more kit than its rivals and it’s more spacious. Factor in the extra flexibility from the 1.6-litre diesel, which mixes this with an impressive level of refinement, and the Peugeot is the most complete mid-size SUV on sale.

Second place: SEAT Ateca

If you need practical family transport but still value driver appeal, the Ateca offers something over and above its rivals in this test. It’s affordable – especially on a monthly PCP deal – but the SEAT isn’t as comfortable nor as versatile as the Peugeot, and neither is it as advanced when it comes to infotainment, which is where many buyers engage with their cars.

Third place: Nissan Qashqai

This facelifted Qashqai feels like a missed opportunity for Nissan. The revisions aren’t major, so while the car is a little more comfortable and refined, it’s still lacking in too many areas given the ground rivals have made up. The infotainment feels well behind the 3008, while it trails both rivals for practicality. It’s efficient and refined, but so is the competition.

Other options in this category

Renault Kadjar

Price: £24,595Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 108bhp

The Renault Kadjar uses the same engine and chassis as the new Qashqai, but it’s not quite as refined or comfortable. However, it’s keenly priced and gets lots of kit – including a better infotainment system – in Dynamique S Nav trim.

Toyota C-HR

Price: £26,585Engine: 1.8 petrol/electric, 120bhp

If you don’t want a diesel SUV, you could try a hybrid. The C-HR’s petrol/electric powertrain works well, but it is pricey. Still, you get lots of kit in Excel trim, such as sat-nav, a reversing camera and emergency braking with pedestrian protection.

Figures

 Peugeot 3008SEAT AtecaNissan Qashqai
On the road price/total as tested£26,125/£26,125£24,330/£26,175£25,555/£25,555
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£10,701/41.0%£11,374/46.8%£10,526/41.2%
Depreciation£15,424£12,956£15,029
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,141/£2,282£1,206/£2,412£1,066/£2,132
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,431/£2,385£1,381/£2,302£1,448/£2,413
Ins. group/quote/road tax cost16/£638/£14011/£540/£14014/£707/£140
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£13 per month (3yrs)£498 (3yrs)£159/£249/£159
    
Length/wheelbase4,447/2,675mm4,363/2,638mm4,394/2,646mm
Height/width1,620/1,841mm1,841/1,615mm1,590/1,806mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,560cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power/revs118/3,500 bhp/rpm113/3,250 bhp/rpm108/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs300/1,750 Nm/rpm250/1,500 Nm/rpm260/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel53 litres/yes50 litres/£11055 litres/£215
Boot capacity (seats up/down)591/1,670 litres510/1,604 litres430/1,598 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,300/670/1,500kg1,375/535/1,700kg1,379/531/1,350kg
Turning circle10.7 metres10.8 metres10.7 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/2yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 (1yr)/283Variable/28318,000 (1yr)/128
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.13th/9th6th/17th20th/25th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars86/85/67/58/593/84/71/60/588/83/69/79/5
    
0-60/30-70mph10.8/10.8 secs10.4/10.2 secs11.6/12.7 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.9/6.3 secs4.2/6.4 secs5.0/7.6 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th8.8/11.8 secs10.4/15.0 secs10.8/14.0 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph117mph/1,900rpm114mph/1,900rpm113mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph46.5/33.0/11.4m44.5/33.4/8.4m52.2/34.6/10.3m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph65/42/60/68dB67/44/60/68dB66/47/57/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range44.1/9.7/514 miles45.7/10.1/503 miles43.6/9.6/527 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined60.1/80.7/70.6mpg57.6/65.7/62.8mpg67.3/78.5/74.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined13.2/17.8/15.5mpl12.7/14.5/13.8mpl14.8/17.3/16.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket172/104g/km/22%166/119g/km/25%174/99g/km/21%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSeven/yes/yes/£220Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB£1,400/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/£560Yes/no/£325*Yes/no/yes
Met paint/LED lights/keyless entry & go£525/£850/£350£575/yes/£505£575/£495/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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