Since the launch of the second-generation Nissan Qashqai, there’s been little reason for family SUV buyers to look elsewhere – it’s safe, comfortable and practical enough to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
While the British-built Nissan has deservedly become the default choice in the segment, there are a number of talented rivals that deserve a look. On paper, the new-for-2016 Kia Sportage could be one of the Qashqai’s toughest opponents yet. So how do the two compare? Our side-by-side comparison will help you pick the right one.
Already made up your mind? Put either the Kia Sportage or the Nissan Qashqai in our car configurator to see the deals carwow could help you get.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai styling
Kia makes some very handsome cars right now and, to our eyes, the Sportage mostly continues the trend. The headlights, placed high up on the tall yet bluff front might take some getting used to but hallmarks such as the ‘tiger’ front grill remain. Elsewhere, the Sportage looks sharp, modern and just about chunky enough to offer the road presence buyers in this class look for.
In comparison to the Kia, the Qashqai appears a little conservative in its appearance. The wide grille with prominent Nissan badging dominates the front end, while sculpted flanks help to give a chunky feel to the sides. It’s undeniably smart and, thanks to the Sportage’s slightly divisive face, we wouldn’t blame you for preferring the Nissan.
Despite their SUV-like looks, neither the Nissan nor the Kia take up a huge amount of space on the road. At 4,377mm long, the Qashqai is only 122mm longer than a Volkswagen Golf. If however, you often park on a tight street (or in a small garage) where every millimetre counts, it’s worth noting that the Kia is both slightly longer (by 63mm) and taller (by 40mm) than the Nissan.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai interior
While the exterior might divide opinion, the Kia’s cabin more than makes up for it. Functional buttons and switches are arranged in a clear yet attractive fashion, while the dash and major controls are covered in squidgy plastics and leather. It all seems built to last, too, with the kind of sturdiness that matches its German rivals.
Like the outside, Nissan has played it relatively safe with the interior design. Buttons and controls are logically laid out and well-screwed together. The seats are comfortable and an abundance of cubby holes mean there’s more than enough room to store your things. Some of the design is starting to look a little dated but, no the whole, you’d struggle to find fault.
The Kia’s slightly larger exterior dimensions have paid dividends inside. In particular, rear legroom is superior to the Nissan and, at 491 litres, the boot is 61 litres larger, too.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai driving
On the road, the Kia isn’t quite able to do justice to the ‘Sport’ in the Sportage name but, generally, it offers a well rounded driving experience. Body roll is well controlled and grip is strong while the steering is accurate and weighted nicely. The Sportage can’t quite match the Mazda CX-5 for driving enjoyment, but it offers a little more comfort instead.
While the Sportage rides smoothly, it can’t match the Nissan’s luxury car-like comfort. Even when fitted with the 19-inch wheels of the top-spec Tekna model, it glides over bumps with more finesse than almost any rival. It means that the Qashqai is as happy pottering about town as it is stretching its legs along the motorway. It certainly doesn’t feel sporty but all the controls respond intuitively and are light in use.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai engines
The Sportage engine lineup is mostly carried over from the outgoing model, which means a choice of a 1.6-litre petrol or 1.7- and a 2.0-litre diesels – the latter is available in two power outputs. A new addition is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol which, though refined and powerful, isn’t very economical.
It’s under the bonnet where the Qashqai takes the lead over the Kia. A pair of downsized turbocharged petrol engines are joined by two Renault-developed diesel units. The 130hp 1.6-litre diesel has the most torque and can be paired with four-wheel drive if necessary. Most buyers would be better suited by the more efficient, cheaper and sweeter 1.5-litre diesel. A 0-62mph time of 12.4 seconds sounds slow, but it feels much quicker around town and the claimed 74.3mpg fuel consumption figure is significantly better than the most frugal Sportage.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai value for money
The Sportage just beats the Qashqai in terms of price, particularly at for entry level models. Not only does the Kia cost around £300 less than the Nissan, but basic models include goodies like alloy wheels and a DAB digital radio – features lacking from the entry-level Qashqai. Towards the top of the range, once again it’s the Kia which is marginally more generously equipped. It features a standard-fit panoramic glass sunroof in ‘4’ and ‘KX-4’ editions, where Qashqai buyers will have to add £400.
While the Kia is slightly cheaper to buy, the Nissan fights back with a cleaner engine lineup. Not only is it the cheaper of the two to tax, but it’ll probably be kinder on the wallet at the fuel pumps, too.
Both cars were awarded the full five-star rating when tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the Kia achieved this result when subjected to more recent and more stringent tests than the Nissan. Regardless of which you choose, they’re loaded with airbags and higher spec variants are offered with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning systems.
Kia Sportage vs Nissan Qashqai verdict
Compared to many rivals, the Kia Sportage is a tough car to beat. It’s distinctive to look at, feels expensive and spacious inside, and equipment levels are generous. It says something about the quality of the Nissan Qashqai, then, that it still manages to win this face-off.
Put simply, the Nissan makes perfect sense to everyday car buyers. It’s very safe, well-built and the fuel-sipping engines mean it won’t cost the earth to run. Nissan is one of the few manufacturers that understands that a smooth ride is far more useful to the overwhelming majority of commuters than sharp handling so it’s admirable that the Qashqai has such an emphasis on comfort.
The Kia is undeniably a talented car and, to some buyers, the more generous rear accommodation and equipment might be enough to sway the decision in its favour. Its limited engine lineup lets it down, however, meaning buyers with one eye on monthly costs would be better served by the Nissan.
Be a good Sportage and save yourself some Qash
Our Nissan Qashqai deals page will find you the best prices on this excellent crossover. Or, check out the Kia Sportage deals page to spec up your perfect version of this worthy competitor. If you can’t quite figure out what your next car will be, our car chooser is here to help.