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Nissan Qashqai review (2010 onwards)
What - 2010 Nissan Qashqai
Where - Silverstone, UK/Verbier, Switzerland
Date - 16 March 2010
Price - £15,395 - £25,745
Available - March 2010
Key rivals -Hyundai iX35, Peugeot 3008, Skoda Yeti
Hugely sensible family car gets a mid-life makeover. Solid, well-built and now thankfully better looking.
We like - Space, solid build, easy drive
We don't like - Low tailgate opening, CVT automatic transmission, dashboard switchgear
Read more Nissan car reviews
Gallery: Nissan Qashqai
Launched in 2007, the Qashqai gets its first facelift early in 2010. It's more of a nip and tuck than full-on cosmetic surgery, but the tweaks make it much smarter and more upmarket from the front. The main differences include redesigned alloy wheels, new headlamps and tail lamps, a new spoiler and some new instruments, plus a few more storage spaces have been eked out inside.
Engines are much the same, two petrol and two diesel, but there's a new green Pure Drive derivative with 129 g/km CO2 and economy of 57.6mpg.
The Qashqai is the automotive marketing success of the past three years. While everyone had been talking about 'crossovers' for years, Nissan was the first to hit the target spot on.
The definition of a crossover varies, but think of it like this. A crossover looks like a four-wheel-drive or sport utility vehicle (SUV) but doesn't without the four-wheel-drive.
Yet if was all about style, the bland Qashqai wouldn't have been the success it has been. What the Nissan offers, for less than the price of a Focus, is fabulous, family-friendly space.
Everyone now wants a slice of Nissan's pie, so cars that seem quite different are now called crossovers too. The Hyundai iX35, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Yeti are each quite different to the Qashqai but their makers market them as a direct rival.
And get this. Though the vast majority of buyers are happy with front-wheel-drive, few manufacturers can resist the chance to offer their crossover in four-wheel-drive form too.
Compare rivals side-by-side with Car Guide
If you want automatic transmission in your Qashqai and prefer to avoid four-wheel-drive, there's only one option, the 2.0-litre petrol engine. The 140hp unit gives reasonably lively performance - as long as things are going its way.
The issue is the gearbox, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) by its very nature needs a lot of engine revs to get the best performance from the engine. Having said that, it's much improved on CVT's of old and doesn't scream when planting the throttle.
As an alternative, it's easy and effective to use the six gears manually, but that, of course, misses the point.
If you're the type that likes trekking out to the mountains or are in need of a towing brute, then the diesel automatic is the best option. Despite the £3k premium it's equipped with and interchangeable four-wheel-drive system.
Ride and handling
It's something of a surprise to find the Qashqai is fun to drive. The steering is accurate and the car handles bends with some agility. The latest version gets a retuned suspension which makes it handle more car-like, rather than a 4x4.
The Qashqai is no hot hatchback, but the trade off is ride comfort that's an acceptable balance between handling and suspension firmness.
This remains key to the Qashqai's success with newer competitors still failing to better the space the Nissan has to offer. The driver sits higher than a regular family car, which adds to the appeal for many.
In the rear there's stretch-out legroom with decent comfort for two, or three at a pinch. Like an MPV, there are plenty of spaces to store bits and pieces.
The cabin is a haven of tranquillity too, thanks to further cockpit insulation which shuts out any unwanted external noise.
This 'n-tec' version gets a huge panoramic glass roof with a one-touch electrically operates sunshade. All get a massive cooled glove box.
Where the interior lets itself down is in the quality of switches and satnav. It all looks functional rather than pretty, yet not very easy to use either.
The Qashqai is also sold in the +2 version, longer with a third row of seats for an additional £2,640. Space here in the back is seriously tight.
Luggage volume is average but the boot is well shaped. The tailgate doesn't open high enough to clear most men's heads, a ridiculous oversight.
Economy and safety
The combined fuel consumption figure of 37.1mpg seems somewhat optimistic, as we saw just 30mpg on our test route without driving the car hard.
The 2.0-diesel auto is only a couple of mpg better, partly down to the extra weight of the four-wheel-drive system. CO2 is 189/191g/km respectively.
The Qashqai, pre-facelift, received the full five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests, so this car should be at least as good. All models get front, side and curtain airbags.
MSN Cars verdict
Get over the fact that a Qashqai wins minimal points in the look-at-what's-parked-on-my-drive stakes, and you've got yourself a fine family car here.
Read more Nissan car reviews
|Need to know|
|Diesel||1.5 turbo, 2.0 turbo|
|Torque (lb ft)||115-236|
|Top speed (mph)||109-121|
|Ride and handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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