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Nissan Qashqai review (2014 onwards)
Nissan Qashqai: summary
We like: very easy to live with, clever boot storage, low CO2 levels, strong safety features
We don’t like: modest performance, high boot sill
Nissan Qashqai: first impressions
This is the car we’ve all been waiting for. Not just eager owners of the original Qashqai, but the rest of the motor industry. For the original Qashqai not only started the ball rolling for ‘crossovers’, it remained the bestseller in this area of the market throughout its life.
The diesel engines drive nicely and most of the time the Qashqai seems quite lively
How could such a dumpy machine achieve so much? Well, the Qashqai tapped into a vein of sheer common sense. For buyers who wanted more space than a Focus or Golf, the Qashqai was the sensibly priced answer. But equally important, it looked a bit like a small off-roader, without the £30,000 price tag.
So successful has the Qashqai been that now there is a large number of rivals, with more launching all the time. All offer good passenger space and, if you really want it, four-wheel drive. Few buyers do, though, and Nissan reckons that 90% will choose a front-wheel-drive Qashqai.
Oh, and don’t confuse the Qashqai and its brethren with small people carriers or MPVs like the Citroen C4 Picasso. The latter offer more space but lack the crucial street cred of a crossover.
There have been several revisions to the Qashqai during its life, but 2014 marks the launch of this completely new model. The family resemblance is obvious – it would have been foolish to change it much – but there are some new factors in play.
There’s no seven-seater option for starters. That will be the domain of the new Nissan X-Trail to be launched in the summer. The 1.6-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a 1.2-litre turbo, but the 1.5- and 1.6-litre turbodiesels are still on offer.
Pricing is competitive, from just over £17k, but you can now spend close to £30,000 on a new Qashqai if you choose a high-specification 4x4 version. The four trim levels are Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium and Tekna. Air conditioning, Bluetooth and cruise control are standard on every model, as is engine stop-start.
Designed in London, engineered in Cranfield and built in Sunderland, the Qashqai is a British success story. Two million have been built since 2007. Will this one continue that success?
Nissan Qashqai: performance
None of the three engine options offered in the launch phase offers any degree of excitement. Indeed, they may be found wanting in some circumstances. But do balance that with the fact that the Qashqai is a family car, where ease of driving is arguably of greater importance.
The 1.6 petrol engine of the old car is replaced by a 1.2-litre, which sounds worrying except that a turbocharger means total output is similar while increased torque means more pulling power. Still, with a fully loaded Qashqai, it may still prove to be a bit slow.
The 1.5- and 1.6-litre turbodiesels are a better choice of you if are prepared to spend the extra cash. They drive nicely and most of the time the Qashqai seems quite lively. But the 1.5 takes a moment or two to get up to speed, which means it can feel sluggish from take-off.
We only got to try the 1.6 diesel with the automatic transmission, which seemed to be the best blend of the lot, although it costs £25k plus. Four-wheel drive is offered as a £1,700 option on top models, though only with a manual gearbox.
There will be a 1.6-litre petrol turbo Qashqai later in 2014, boasting a useful 150hp, but understandably higher running costs.
Nissan Qashqai: ride and handling
The new Qashqai scores highly here. The ride is comfortable, dealing with bumps without jolting passengers. It’s stable in corners without much body roll and there is a good weight to the steering that should satisfy pretty well everyone.
The Qashqai's interior is up there with the best in its class for perceived quality
Move up the range and there are a host of safety systems incorporated into the Smart Vision Pack. These include lane departure warning, traffic signal recognition, front collision avoidance and high-beam assist. Buy a Qashqai with these and the insurance group drops by three points.
There’s even a self-parking option, which will perform a hands-off parallel or perpendicular parking manoeuvre for you, as long as you control the accelerator and brakes. It works, but you have to press so many buttons before you start, you might wish you hadn’t bothered.
Nissan Qashqai: interior
It’s good, the Qashqai interior. Sensibly designed so that the important functions are available at the touch of a button, it’s up there with the best in its class for perceived quality. Everything feels solid and nicely engineered, and it looks pretty stylish too.
The front seats are large and comfortable, and with the dashboard set fairly low you get a great view out ahead. In fact, visibility all-round is good, with the added advantage of a rear view camera and an around-the-car view displayed on screen in the more expensive models.
Though the new Qashqai is a touch longer and wider than before, it is also a bit lower. Yet headroom has been increased by lowering the rear seats, to no apparent detriment to comfort. Naturally there are two Isofix fittings as standard.
The boot sill height is high but the entry is flat, which means loading up is still straightforward. There’s no spare wheel which may upset some potential buyers, but that’s the way of the world these days.
Instead there is extra sub-floor storage, which can be opened up to increase capacity. A neat and highly useful trick is the split boot floor that can be used as a divider to stop shopping bags falling about.
Nissan Qashqai: economy and safety
Newfound levels of quality move it upmarket without hammering the price too much
Nissan promises some major gains in economy and CO2 over the old Qashqai. The 1.5 diesel has CO2 emissions of just 99g/km, and a claimed combined economy of an astonishing 74.3mpg. The 1.6 diesel is 115g/km and 64.2mpg (with the auto 119g/km and 61.4mpg). The 1.2 petrol turbo produces 129g/km and averages 50.4mpg.
As a family car the Qashqai really has to max out on safety, and Nissan claims an “unprecedented level of safety technology” for its new car. This blends both the requisite number of airbags with extensive electrical systems designed to prevent you having a crash in the first place.
Nissan Qashqai: the verdict
If ever there was a new car that didn’t rely on critical opinion, the Qashqai is it. UK buyers loved the old one, almost 50,000 of them choosing a Qashqai in 2013 – the year before it was being replaced. It makes logical sense for so many, even with all those rivals out there vying for your business.
The new Qashqai does everything they’ll expect, plus the newfound levels of quality move it upmarket without hammering the price too much. It’s certainly not a car for the enthusiastic driver, but as a family car with a slice of panache, it’s still hard to beat.
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