The Nissan Qashqai is one of the most competent cars in this segment and the addition of the new 1.6-litre dCi engine keeps it ahead of newer rivals in the fuel economy stakes. It is the most expensive engine in the Qashqai line-up but the benefits it brings in terms of running costs and refinement are worth every penny. Our only advice would be to wait to order a stop-start equipped model once production begins in January.
More than a million Nissan Qashqai models have been sold worldwide since its launch in 2007 and Nissan is hoping to continue that success with a few subtle updates – including the introduction of the world's most powerful 1.6-litre diesel engine to the range.
The new diesel unit effectively replaces the old 2.0-litre dCi – although that still remains to power the automatic four-wheel-drive Qashqai – and boasts 128bhp as well as a torque figure of 320Nm which is exactly the same as the larger diesel. More impressive is the 62.8mpg fuel economy figure in the 2WD manual model driven here which represents a 31 per cent improvement over the 2.0-litre dCi. CO2 emissions are also down from 155g/km to 119g/km.
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These figures are down to a range of fuel saving measures, including the addition of a stop-start system. It's worth noting though, that due to shortage supplies caused by the Japanese tsunami, cars fitted with stop-start won't be built until January. Without the system, CO2 emissions rise to 129g/km.
The engine itself is one of the smoothest diesels in this segment and is particularly quiet on start up and under acceleration. With 320Nm of torque available from 1,750rpm it's also incredibly flexible and boasts a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds. Top speed stands at 118mph.
Elsewhere, the Qashqai's fantastic all-round ability remains intact. Well-controlled suspension means the Qashqai only rolls slightly in the bends but there is plenty of grip. The steering, while a little short on feel, is direct and responsive. Ride comfort is good too, with a small amount of vibration over small bumps being one of the only gripes.
Inside, changes to the cabin are minimal but Nissan now offers an Around View Monitor which uses four cameras placed around the outside of the car to give a top-down view of the Qashqai's position on the road during parking manoeuvres.
The back seats have a fair amount of knee and head-room for tall passengers and there’s a generous and well-shaped boot too with 410 litres of space. Fold the rear seats down and this figure rises to 860 litres.
Thanks to its long list of talents the 1.6-litre dCi engine is the perfect companion for the already impressive Qashqai, but it is also the most expensive option. With prices starting from £19,445, it’s £1,250 more than the less powerful, less efficient and less refined 1.5-litre dCi. In our view though, it’s money well spent.