Nissan Qashqai review - Engines, performance and drive

Low noise levels and a comfortable ride, though it's not the sharpest drive in the crossover class.

The original Nissan Qashqai was surprisingly fun to drive, but the current model takes a more mature approach. Levels of noise and vibration in the cabin have been vastly improved, with much less intrusion from the road and engine noise making its way inside - particularly on the motorway.

In a series of corners, the Qashqai feels reasonably composed. The electrically assisted steering is direct and surprisingly weighty in feel, while grip is plentiful. Nissan’s Active Trace Control applies the brakes on individual wheels to help you stick to your chosen cornering line, but it feels as if the car never quite settles once you’ve turned in, while there’s not much grip on offer. A SEAT Ateca is sharper in the bends, while the Peugeot 3008 and Mazda CX-5 feel more direct and agile, too.

For 2017, the suspension and steering have been revised and retuned to improve stability and settle the ride a bit more, while the Active Ride Control system has also been tweaked. The changes are subtle; noise levels have been reduced further making it respectably refined, while new Active Return Control tech makes the steering feel a bit more natural. 

The Qashqai features Nissan’s Active Engine Brake function, which reduces jerkiness in the transmission when you lift off the throttle. Plus, the Body Motion Control technology constantly dabs the brakes to smooth out body movement over bumps. It works well, particularly at low speed, although hit a series of small imperfections and it's less composed.

This is rarely a problem around town, where the high driving position, light controls and decent visibility make the Nissan easy to navigate through the city.

Engines

In 2019 the Qashqai range was updated with new engines and a trim-level reshuffle; there’s now a new range of petrol and diesel units with more power and improved economy across the board.

Both petrol models use a 1.3-litre DIG-T four-cylinder engine; the DIG-T 140 has 138bhp and the DIG-T 160 has 158bhp. The former is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and manages 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds; the more powerful model drops this to 8.9 seconds, or 9.9 when fitted with the optional seven-speed DCT.

Two diesels make up the rest of the range; the 1.5-litre dCi 115 has 113bhp and the 1.7-litre dCi 150 boasts 148bhp. Acceleration is not terribly impressive: the 1.5-litre gets to 62mph in 12.3 seconds in manual guise, or 13 seconds with the automatic, while the 1.7-litre model does 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds with a manual gearbox regardless of its driven wheel count. The four-wheel drive Xtronic CVT model is slower at 11.2 seconds to 62mph.

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