Nissan Qashqai+2

Trendy SUV is here with firm’s smallest diesel. How does it drive?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Nissan's new, smaller 1.5 dCi engine is a cracker. It provides smooth, lag-free acceleration that feels livelier than the power output and performance figures would suggest. The +2 retains the chunky good looks of the standard Qashqai, too, but offers extra room. And although the two rear seats are cramped, they will come in useful if you’re carrying children. A supple ride and good feel make the Qashqai+2 surprisingly fun to drive. If practicality is a priority but you don’t want a frumpy MPV, it makes a lot of sense.

It’s got seats for seven, but the new Qashqai+2 also has Nissan’s smallest diesel engine yet!

On paper, this new 1.5-litre variant of the popular family model appears to be a little underpowered. It produces 105bhp and 240Nm of torque – far less than the 2.0-litre’s 148bhp and 320Nm. But on the move the gap between the two is closer than you would think.

The big Nissan gathers pace easily, with barely any lag from the variable geometry turbo. There’s a flexibility to the power delivery throughout the rev range that makes the car feel much quicker than its 0-60mph time of 13.3 seconds would suggest – although acceleration is blunted when a full quota of passengers is on board.

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To fit in the extra row of seats, dimensions have swollen significantly – the wheelbase by 135mm, length by 211mm and height by 38mm – making the Qashqai longer than a Ford Kuga, and nearly as high.

But despite the looks, Nissan doesn’t see this as a compact SUV rival. Instead, it is taking on people carriers by offering their versatility without compromising style and dynamics.

Body roll In corners, the Qashqai+2 finds it difficult to hide its extra weight and suffers from a fair amount of body roll. However, there’s a fluidity to the car’s movements and a suppleness to the suspension that still mean it is good to drive.

Unfortunately, practicality is less impressive. The two extra chairs are designed only for children under 1.6m tall – and prove quite a squeeze for anyone larger. Nissan makes up for this with an ingenious array of cabin layouts. The middle row slides back and forth by 240mm, and all five rear seats fold flat individually to create more cargo space.

As a result, the expanded dimensions complement the Qashqai’s chunky styling well, while the SUV-like profile and small glass area give it a more dynamic stance than any other seven-seater on the market.

Rival: VW Touran It’s been around for a while, but the Touran remains a fine carrier with decent space and two extra rear seats. VW’s build quality, powerful engines and excellent twin-clutch DSG box make it even more attractive.

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