£18,265 - £28,900 Price range
47 - 74 MPG
Reviews for the new Nissan Qashqai are now flowing through, and it comes as little surprise that it’s as well-received as the original car.
Nissan has improved upon it in virtually every way – and the outgoing Qashqai was still rated highly by the experts.
It maintains the current Qashqai’s overall form, but new details give it a new lease of life – and a much sportier appearance. Some might see echoes of the Mazda CX-5 or Hyundai ix35 in the styling, but that’s no bad thing. More important is the excellent ride quality, frugal engines and comfortable cabin – the Qashqai is still a force to be reckoned with.
2014 carwow car of the year and best SUV
The Qashqai is both our best SUV and our outright car of the year. Its blend of family-friendly practicality and a refined driving experience means it shoots instantly to the top of its class. That it’s British-built, well equipped and stylish is just icing on the cake.
Practicality is the buzzword here and the Qashqai offers plenty. Despite a few concerns over rear seat space (it’s not small, but nor is it bigger than rivals here), the Qashqai’s cabin is otherwise a comfortable place to be.
It feels exceedingly well-built (here in Britain, at the firm’s Washington plant in the North East), there’s plenty of legroom front and rear, more than adequate headroom (though the glass roof reduces this a little) and there are cubby holes for all the family’s trinkets.
The boot is a reasonable size, if not spectacular – at 430 litres, it’s the size of most regular family cars and a useful 20 litres bigger than before. It’s also 14 litres more spacious than one of the Qashqai’s most compelling rivals, the Skoda Yeti. Loading is said to be easy, with a flat lip to slide objects onto the boot floor. There’s a compartment below the floor for extra storage space, and if you flip the rear seats forward you get up to 1,585 litres of room. It features in our Top 10 Biggest Estate Car Boots.
No Qashqai+2 is planned this time. The seven-seat model is being superseded by the long-awaited update to the X-Trail. The benefit is that the new, larger Qashqai offers greater space than before without cramming it with extra seats.
The best aspect of the new Qashqai, according to all the reviews, is its ride quality. A new Chassis Control system uses electronics to adjust the car’s handling and ride comfort, and even on large alloy wheels there’s none of the crashing and banging you’d expect. It’s quite a clever system – using the car’s brakes to control pitch, so when you hit a speed-bump there isn’t as much movement as you’d expect.
While a few drivers say the Qashqai has lost some of the cornering flair it once had, it’s hardly bad in that respect – and few owners will care about that last few percent of incisiveness anyway. It’s a responsive, comfortable and refined vehicle, which ticks all the bases for the average family car. And rumours of a Nismo version abound, so sportier drivers still have something to look forward to…
Engine choice is between a new 1.2-litre DiG-T turbocharged petrol engine with 113 hp, an updated version of the popular 1.5 dCi diesel, and an updated 1.6 dCi diesel too. They manage 50.4, 74.3 and 64.2 mpg respectively. The 1.2 DiG-T is a highly-regarded engine, described as “the sweet spot in the range” for urban drivers. It’s “refined and relaxed”, quicker than the old 1.6 petrol and enough shove for “brisk” progress.
The 1.5 dCi is a solid option, though. It’s the most economical Qashqai lump and cheapest to tax – well, free to tax, to be accurate – while offering enough punch to get down the road with minimal fuss. It’ll reach 60 mph in a respectable 11.9 seconds and hit 113 mph, but like many diesels the low-down torque means it feels a little stronger than that figure implies.
The 1.6 dCi is good too if not quite as frugal, but does offer the only automatic option, an excellent and responsive CVT, and the only 4WD option. Economy doesn’t suffer too badly with the auto, at 62.8 mpg combined and 119 g/km of CO2. One or two testers aren’t keen for the usual CVT reasons – these transmissions can feel a little odd until you’re used to them, as revs rise and fall independent of road speed. Nissan has introduced artificial steps to counteract this but some still prefer a traditional manual.
Those of a sporting disposition will be pleased to hear there’s a Nismo model on the way too, just as there has been for the smaller Juke and the 370Z sports car.
The 1.2 is a real hit with the critics. One reviewer describes it as "the sweet spot in the range" for urban drivers, where a diesel may not be as appropriate. While it's not a fast car, performance is suited to the car's use and refinement is "exceptional" - particularly at idle, where the engine is as good as inaudible. The 1.2 also cruises well on the motorway and it's "nippy enough" around town.
Reviews of the 1.5 dCi are starting to filter in and it's proving a popular engine already - offering the best mix of performance and economy of the available options and impressive standards of refinement.
The 1.6 is also the only engine that can be equipped with either a four wheel drive system (for £1,700) or an automatic option in the form of Nissan's Xtronic CVT (for £1,350), but the options are mutually exclusive. The 1.6 dCi adds £1,305 to the 1.5 dCi's price.
There are only a handful of reviews of the 1.6 dCi so far, and while a talented, refined engine - with a smooth CVT gearbox making light work of the engine's torque - a few testers reckon the smaller 1.5 dCi is the pick of the range.
If the new Qashqai proves as successful as its predecessor, it will be responsible for the safety of tens of thousands of buyers and their families. Thankfully, Nissan hasn’t cut corners and safety body EuroNCAP has awarded it a full five stars in its crash testing procedures.
It scores 88 per cent in adult occupant protection and 83 per cent for child occupants. The Qashqai also does well on safety assistance systems, a large factor in EuroNCAP’s current scoring. Stability control and seatbelt reminders are standard, autonomous emergency braking is optional, as is lane departure warning. Sign recognition and speed limiters are also in its armoury. It’s worth noting that several of these systems also help to bring down the Qashqai’s insurance rates, since lower risk of crashing means lower risk for insurers.
The new Qashqai features four distinct trim lines – Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium and Tekna – each of which offers more equipment than before. It’s well kitted-out as standard, getting an audio system with CD player and USB & Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and speed limiter, a manual air conditioning system and the characteristic LED daytime running lights.
Other trim lines add to that tally – Tekna models offering a heated screen and bi-LED headlights, for example. Cars with the ‘Smart Vision Pack’ include lane departure warning, traffic signal recognition, front collision avoidance and high beam assist.
It’s more expensive than some rivals – pricing now starts at £17,995 and runs up close to £30k – but most testers seem to suggest it’s worth it. You’re absolutely getting what you pay for.
Nissan is onto another winner with the new Qashqai. The previous model was amongst the class leaders and top sellers even as it was replaced, so it’s a brave move to overhaul what’s already one of the best cars before the market has had time to catch up.
Already one of the best-selling cars in Britain, the new model offers more comfort, space, performance and economy. You’ll pay a little extra for those benefits but the Qashqai has risen right to the top of its class and is more than worth the money.
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