CJ Hubbard
16/09/2008 00:00 | By CJ Hubbard, contributor, MSN Cars

Nissan Qashqai+2 review (2008-2010)



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Nissan Qashqai (© Nissan)


What – Nissan Qashqai+2
Where – Switzerland and France
Price – £17,199 - £23,799
Available – September 2008
Key rivals – Vauxhall Zafira, Renault Espace, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Mondeo, Toyota Avensis

Summary

The Qashqai is Nissan's most successful new model ever. Now's it got a bigger brother. Similar looks, even more versatile seven-seat interior - the Qashqai+2 is another hit.

We like: clever interior, car-like drive, smart styling
We don’t like: engine refinement, slightly firm ride

Read more Nissan car reviews

First Impressions

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

The 'regular' Nissan Qashqai has been an enormous success. Launched in March 2007, over 32,000 have found homes in the UK alone - and almost 250,000 across Europe. A compact 'crossover' as an affordable alternative to regular family cars and small MPVs, it was a product nobody else was offering. And the market wanted it - badly.Naturally, Nissan wasn't about to get complacent. Right from the start it was planning to capture a wider range of buyers - hence this new version, the Qasqai+2. It effectively does exactly what it says on the boot lid: offers the Qashqai experience with a couple of extra seats thrown in.

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

But in order to preserve that experience fully - it is after all an experience encompassing distinctive design and genuinely car-like driving dynamics, as well as practicality, lifestyle, and safety - the Qashqai+2 is necessarily more than an extended rear overhang and a spare pair of chairs.The wheelbase is longer, not just the car. It's taller. The interior offers even more versatility. And despite all this, in isolation it still looks like a regular Qasqai with a funny grill. Target market: seven-seat MPVs like the Vauxhall Zafira and Renault Espace, plus SUV and family saloon buyers.

Performance

The Qashqai+2 line-up will eventually mirror the regular Qashqai. But initial supply is limited to 138bhp 2.0-litre petrol and 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel. We got to try the latter in All Mode 4x4-i form with six-speed manual and automatic transmission, and the former as front-wheel drive six-speed manual only.The diesel is noisy but you'd put up with that (and the £1,400 premium) for its extra torque. 236lb ft compared to the petrol's 145 means it shrugs off the +2's added bulk more convincingly. How the forthcoming smaller engines will cope remains to be seen. All the gearboxes - including the auto - work just fine.

Ride and Handling

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

With a raised driving position, chunky styling, and optional 4x4, the Qashqai+2 combines SUV security with capable, car-like road manners. The steering is positively weighted (although perhaps a smidge inconsistently), and the Qashqai+2 goes where you point it up to quite a clip, with body movement generally well controlled and poised.There is a small amount of transitional uneasiness through switchback curves, as the suspension loading shifts sides, but nothing too dramatic. The ride is firm - especially in the diesel, which also has marginally heavier steering - without being hard. Grip levels are good, but especially with the All Mode 'intelligent' four-wheel drive.

Interior

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

For front seat passengers the +2 has been designed to be just like the regular Qashqai - clear instruments, decent quality, perhaps a tiny bit bland. But just as the exterior is all-new from the A-pillar back, the interior changes with the second row, starting with the larger rear doors.These open to a 'rear' bench seat that splits 40:20:40, and slides backwards and forwards, to balance legroom against boot space and give final row access. Boot space varies between 130 litres with all seven seats upright, 550 still with five, and 1.520 when the Qashqai is in full DIY friendly mode.

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

As for the final row, Nissan is clear that these should be treated as occasional seats for children only. It's nice to see a manufacturer being up front about the compromise - and it's a sensible decision as the footwell is shallow, and leg- and headroom tight. The seat back splits 50:50 for added flexibility.Behind the final seat row there is a full-width cubby below the floor. This can be used to control the trajectory of shopping if you're travelling passenger light, but also doubles as a storage area for the tonneau cover if all the seats are taken. Handy. Why can't all cars do this?

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

The boot opening is wider than the five-seater Qashqai's, the final row seats fold with the single pull of a strap (no need to remove headrests), and both rear rows offer reclining backrests for passenger comfort. The middle 20 portion of the middle row doubles as a fold down armrest with integrated cupholders and cubby.The glovebox is cooled and 14 litres big, enough for 15 drink cans. There's large centre console storage - 3.5 litres - and a 4.0-litre drawer under the passenger space. Enough room for even the most cluttered family. And perhaps best of all, the +2 comes with an enormous glass roof as standard.

Economy and Safety

Nissan Qashqai+2 (© Image © Nissan)

The regular Qashqai remains the safest car that Euro NCAP has ever crash-tested, with a five-star adult rating and the highest points score since testing began in 1997. Whether the +2 will prove as groundbreaking remains to be seen, but even with its expanded size, the underlying engineering remains similar. Safety isn't an issue.Unsurprisingly, the extra weight of the +2 has dented economy and emissions, but the 4x4 2.0-litre diesel still manages 40.4mpg and 188g/km CO2 as a manual (35.8mpg and 209g/km as an auto). The 2.0-litre petrol is less impressive at 33.6mpg and 197g/km - and that's for the front-wheel drive version.

MSN Cars Verdict 4/5

For the launch, we were located 15 miles down the road from the CERN 'Big Bang' experiment. No sign of the End Of The World just yet, but is the Qashqai+2 the end of the line for vehicles like the Zafira? If the original appealed but wasn't spacious enough, there's no reason not to buy this one.The Dodge Journey might dispute Nissan's claim that this is the first ever seven-seat crossover. But as a relatively compact, good to drive, stylish approach to large-scale family transportation, the Qashqai+2 is currently unmatched. Priced around £1,500 more than the regular model, the extra space and equipment makes it even better value, too.

Ratings out of five: Nissan Qashqai+2
Performance****
Ride & handling***
Interior****
Safety*****
Price****
Practicality****
Fuel economy****
MSN Cars verdict****

Need to know
Petrol engine
2.0 (1.6 to follow)
Diesel engine2.0 (1.5 to follow)
Power (bhp)138-148
Torque (lb/ft)145-236
0-62 (secs)10.5-12.4
Top speed (mph)110-118
Combined mpg 32.8-42.2
C02 emissions (g/km)/tax (%)177-209 / 24-30


Read more Nissan car reviews

Also consider

Vauxhall Zafira
Renault Espace
Toyota RAV4
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Santa Fe
Ford Mondeo
Toyota Avensis

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