£18,545 - £29,310 Price range
47 - 74 MPG
It may look like a sports utility vehicle (SUV), but the Nissan Qashqai feels just like a normal car to drive – with less of the body lean you get when going around corners that traditional off-roaders suffer from. Rivals include the Suzuki Vitara, Kia Sportage and the Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Nissan costs about the same to buy as a traditional hatchback (such as the Volkswagen Golf) and also has extremely low running costs.
Although the Qashqai doesn’t offer the off-road ability of a model such as the Land Rover Defender, it is available with four-wheel drive for extra grip on slippery roads or for towing. Owners also like the car’s raised driving position which gives them an excellent view of the road ahead.
The Qashqai has quite a tall body, which means it has a big boot and can comfortably accommodate four adults. Interior quality isn’t up to class-leading Volkswagen standards, but it isn’t far behind, and the Nissan is an extremely comfortable car to tackle long journeys in.
All models come with a five-inch infotainment screen, remote central locking, a Bluetooth phone connection and air conditioning.
Practicality is the buzzword here and the Qashqai offers plenty of it. 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. A full breakdown of the Qashqai’s sizes is available in our dimensions guide.
It feels exceedingly well-built (it’s made 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 optional glass roof reduces this a little) and there are cubbyholes for all the family’s trinkets.
The overall appearance of the dashboard is smart and it’s designed to be as user friendly as possible. However, aside from one or two metallic plastic touches on the steering wheel and air vent surrounds, much of the dash is finished in swathes of black plastic. As a result, one or two rivals offer a slightly more lively appearance inside, and the VW Golf beats it for quality.
Visibility is good overall, although the upwards kink in the rear passenger windows comes at a cost of an obstructed view out the back. However, rear-parking sensors – standard on all but the entry-level Visia model, where they are offered as part of a £495 driver assist pack – make things much easier.
Nissan Qashqai passenger space
Overall, cabin space is very generous. Owners of the old model will notice an increase in legroom front and rear, and there’s now room for three people to be seated in relative comfort on the back bench. It’s worth noting that from Acenta trim levels and upwards, a panoramic glass roof is fitted as standard. It endows the cabin with a wonderful airy feel, but it does compromise headroom slightly, particularly in the back.
Buyers of the previous generation Qashqai +2 should note that a seven-seater version isn’t planned for this version of the car – the slightly longer Nissan X-Trail does have seven seats, however.
Nissan Qashqai boot space
The boot is a reasonable size, if not spectacular – at 430 litres, it’s 50 litres bigger than the VW Golf’s and a useful 20 litres more capacious than the old Qashqai’s. It’s also 14 litres more spacious than one of the Qashqai’s biggest rivals, the Skoda Yeti. Critics say that loading is easy, with a flat lip to slide objects onto the boot floor. There’s a compartment below the boot floor for extra storage space, and if you flip the rear seats forward you get up to 1,585 litres of room.
For a more in-depth look at how it fares size-wise, take a look at our Qashqai dimensions guide.
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 keep the car as level as possible, so when you hit a speed-bump there isn’t as much suspension movement as you’d expect.
Although a few reviewers say the Qashqai has lost some of the cornering flair it once had, it’s hardly bad in that respect. If you really want the best driving SUV for this much money you should also take a look at the Mazda CX-5.
Overall, the Qashqai is a a responsive, comfortable and refined vehicle, which ticks all the bases for most families.
Engine choices range between a 1.2 and 1.6-litre DiG-T turbocharged petrols, an updated version of the popular 1.5 dCi diesel, and a revised 1.6 dCi diesel. They manage 50.4, 74.3 and 64.2 mpg respectively.
Nissan Qashqai petrol engines
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 giving enough shove for “brisk” progress.
There’s also a modern 1.6-litre DiG-T petrol engine with 163hp. It’ll get the Qashqai to 60mph in a brisk 8.9 seconds, but is the thirstiest engine option – only returning fuel economy of 47mpg.
Nissan Qashqai diesel engines
The 1.5 dCi is a solid option, though. It’s the most economical Qashqai 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 the figures imply.
The 1.6 dCi is good too if not quite as frugal, but its the only model available with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Economy doesn’t suffer too badly with the auto, at 62.8 mpg combined and 119 g/km of CO2, but it can be noisy under prolonged acceleration.
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. In the meantime, sporty driving in the Qashqai is helped by something called Active Trace Control, which uses the brakes to do a similar job to a limited-slip differential.
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.
Thankfully, Nissan hasn’t cut corners here, and safety body Euro NCAP has awarded the Qashqai the full five stars in its crash testing procedures.
The Qashqai also does well thanks to its abundance of safety assistance systems. 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 a lower risk of crashing means a lower risk for insurers.
The new Qashqai features four distinct trim lines – Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna – each of which offers more equipment than the one below it. It’s well kitted out as standard, getting an audio system with a CD player, as well as USB and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and speed limiter, a manual air conditioning system and the characteristic LED daytime running lights.
Our pick of the range is N-Connecta, though, because it offers everything most families need including a seven-inch display with sat-nav, keyless entry, and the excellent Smart Vision Pack. This includes everything from front and rear parking sensors, to automatic emergency braking.
Other trim lines add to that tally – top-of-the-range Tekna models have a heated windscreen and bright LED headlights, plus a blind-spot-warning system and an aid that can detect (and warn) when the driver needs to rest. A wipe-clean leather interior will also be a bonus for most families.
Nissan is on to another winner with the Qashqai. The previous model was among the class leaders, even when it was nearing the end of its life, 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 latest 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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