Nissan Qashqai review
Nissan has produced a very attractive alternative in the family hatch arena.
Driving Designing a crossover vehicle presents a real challenge for chassis engineers. A high centre of gravity has a negative effect on handling. Despite this, the Qashqai is surprisingly adept in corners. The steering, while somewhat lacking in feel, is fluid and direct, allowing for precise turn-in. A taut body and well controlled suspension mean the Qashqai rolls slightly, but then maintains its composure. As a result, it’s agile and reassuring. Under braking, it’s very stable and feels well controlled, while the ride is impressive too. The damping in particular is cosseting. However, over sharp bumps, particularly in corners, the body shimmies. But this is the only time it lets you down. We tested the 1.5-litre dCi diesel, which may not be the most powerful around, but is very refined and smooth. Combine this with the slick six-speed gearbox and light but well placed pedals, and the Qashqai is a very user-friendly machine.
Marketplace The Qashqai offers SUV styling in a compact hatch package. Styled in the UK at Nissan’s London design studio, it looks modern, chunky and well proportioned, and yet has a body that’s similar in size to family hatch benchmark such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf. However, there’s no doubt that thanks to its height, it looks like a compact SUV. With a choice of four engines (1.6 and 2.0 petrol, 1.5 and 2.0 dCi diesel), Nissan also gives buyers the choice of two- or four-wheel-drive on the more powerful versions; there’s a small fuel economy penalty if you want all wheels driven, but the benefits of extra traction are obvious, even if few Qashqai will ever go off road. Trims compromise of Visia, Acenta and Tekna and all are generously stocked. With competitive prices too, the Nissan is well placed to battle alongside the Focus, Golf, Dodge Caliber and even the Kia Sportage.
Owning The SUV overtones continue once you’re behind the wheel, because the lofty seat position will certainly please fans of off-roaders. Forward visibility is excellent, and with a simple cabin layout, the Qashqai is comfortable and easy to live with. There’s lots of clever storage space, while in the rear, there’s a decent amount of legroom. Although the roofline slopes down towards the tailgate, headroom is still acceptable. The biggest problem is that the thick C-pillars and small rear screen restrict visibility. Fortunately, Nissan includes parking sensors as standard. The firm haven’t done anything clever with the rear seats, though, because they fold conventionally and have a standard 60:40 split. However, the large boot is a useful shape. Unfortunately, relatively short 12,500-mile service intervals bump up costs, and our 1.5 dCi only averaged 36mpg, compared to an ‘official’ figure of 52mpg. Our experts predict strong retained values, though, and Nissan reliability is generally accepted to be superb.