The Nissan Qashqai has been a worldwide smash, not to mention a phenomenal success story for its Japanese manufacturer. The second-generation of this popular crossover SUV was launched last year, and picked up right where its predecessor left off.
But it’s not the only choice.
The Hyundai ix35 was launched in 2010 and underwent a notable facelift in 2013. It targets largely the same kind of driver as the Qashqai, so with each vehicle looking to eat its rival’s lunch, you may be left wondering which is the best for you.
As ever, we’ve compared them point by point to help you decide.
Park them side by side, and the Qashqai has the edge.
The revamped edition has been toned down and up-rated, and it now looks like more of a premium vehicle than its predecessor. It’s easier on the eye than the ix35, but while this model may be less polarising than the first Qashqai, it does now conform to the homogenous look we’ve come to expect from crossovers.
The ix35 is bolder, with creases and curves all over the place. Its slab sides accentuate the ubiquitous tall stance, but there’s sufficient going on here that viewing it from several different angles can give you the impression that you’re actually looking at totally different cars.
The ix35 is probably the visually more interesting of the two, but the Qashqai feels like more of a ‘premium’ product. So, unless standing out from the crowd is important to you, the Qashqai wins this round.
Hop inside the ix35 and you’ll see that while it’s pleasant enough and feels well made, its internal styling isn’t nearly as bold as its shell. It delivers the high driving position that crossover buyers are looking for, and there are plenty of soft-touch materials and some quality switchgear on display. Entry level models aren’t particularly well-equipped, but going up one point on the trim will get you most of the features you’d either want or need.
There’s a faintly sporty feel to the interior of the Qashqai, with its cowled dials and a full-colour trip computer display, and the good news is that ‘sporty’ doesn’t equate to compromised quality. Indeed, the centre console’s coloured ambient lighting, and the gloss black trim on the dashboard can fool you into thinking you’re inside a more expensive German offering. The Nissan also comes with a pretty impressive list of standard equipment, even in entry-level models.
The least expensive option for ix35 buyers is a 1.6-litre petrol unit that feels pretty underpowered. It isn’t a bad engine, but few of us these days would look kindly on a zero to 62mph time of 11.1 seconds. The best engine by far is the 2.0-litre diesel that comes with four-wheel drive. It’s an effortless cruiser with plenty in reserve for overtaking, but it’s an option that you really do pay for. The smaller 1.7-litre diesel is a decent compromise, offering good economy, a smooth ride and good enough acceleration at a more acceptable price.
Take the Qashqai and you have a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines. The options most buyers will gravitate to are inevitably the dCi diesels that come in 110hp and 130hp versions. If you’re intending to tow with your Qashqai, the 130hp dCi is the one to go for as it puts 236lb ft of torque at your disposal, which is 44lb ft greater than the smaller diesel.
If you want the fastest Qashqai you can have right now, the recently introduced DIG-T 163 petrol gets you from standing to 62mph in 9.1 seconds, but you’ll need to stay on top of the gears to get the most out of it.
Stand it beside its predecessor, and this latest Qashqai feels all grown up. The old model was probably more fun to drive, but the driving experience now mirrors the more mature overall feel of the line. It’s considerably more refined, with significantly lower levels of road and engine noise, especially when you’re travelling at motorway speeds.
It’s notably composed in bends and corners, the grip is strong and the steering is direct and surprisingly well balanced. There’s plenty of technology at work to keep you honest, such as Active Trace Control torque vectoring, which helps to boost agility by braking individual wheels to minimise understeer and give a more positive turn-in.
At the last refresh, the Hyundai ix35 got new dampers and side-load coil springs that we were promised would deliver sharper handling to suit the kind of tight and twisty roads we have in the UK. However, it’s hard to tell the difference. While the ix35 feels pretty composed over bumps, there’s a significant amount of body roll in corners, while the somewhat lifeless steering fails to inspire confidence.
The Hyundai is great around town, and its refinement makes it a nice place to be on a long journey, but the Nissan is a better all-rounder, offering a more engaging drive in just about every circumstance
Value for money
The cheapest Qashqai has a recommended retail price of £22,110, but you can get yourself into an ix35 for as little as £17,150. That said, the higher spec models of each vehicle looks like good value, with the sort of equipment levels that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury limo.
Cast an eye over their running costs though, and the Qashqai makes up lost ground. The ix35 does offer pretty impressive fuel economy, with the the 1.7-litre CRDI front-wheel drive engine taking you 53.3 miles on every gallon of fuel, but it can’t compete against the Qashqai’s stunning best of 74.3mpg.
All manufacturer fuel economy figures have to be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt, but it’s hard to dismiss such a massive disparity between the two vehicles. Even if you choose the larger 1.6-litre diesel with four-wheel drive in the Nissan, you’ll still get an amazing 65.7mpg.
The Nissan Qashqai is a really great all-rounder. It’s comfortable, practical, economical and very well built – and it’s definitely grown-up a bit in recent times. Overall quality and stunning levels of fuel economy mean it’s easy to accept its more mature stature and relatively high price when compared to the Hyundai ix35.
The ix35, meanwhile, gives you distinctive styling, an impressive warranty and a very attractive price. However, its relatively high CO2 emissions can nullify those low prices if you’re a company car driver, while a lacklustre feel to the driving itself and a slightly cramped interior do count against it.
If you’re buying purely on price, it’s hard to ignore the ix35 as it does appear to be a lot of car for the money – but when you look at the larger picture, the Nissan Qashqai is so much better in almost every way.
If you like the look of either the Nissan Qashqai or the Hyundai ix35, check them out in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. Or, for more options, head over to our deals page to see our latest discounts.