Nissan Qashqai

An excellent alternative to the more conventional VW Golf

£18,265 - £28,900 Price range

5 Seats

47 - 74 MPG

8.9
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 15 reviews
  • Excellent ride quality
  • Frugal engines
  • Good interior
  • Pricey top models
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Old model more fun

Since its release in 2006, the Nissan Qashqai has been a huge sales success for the Japanese brand. During the ten years or so previous to it’s release, Nissan’s alternative to the Volkswagen Golf was the Almera – a car which offered nothing distinctive or exciting to the class, and as a result sold in very small numbers. At its release, the Qashqai was unique, combining chunky SUV styling with all of the practicality its class rivals provided. It took Nissan from an also-ran in the segment to a manufacturer who sold almost as many units as Ford and Vauxhall.

In late 2013, the second generation Qashqai was unveiled to the public, and it came as little surprise that it’s as well-received as the original car. Nissan improved upon it in virtually every way – and the outgoing Qashqai was still rated highly by the experts. It maintained the outgoing car’s overall form, but new details give it a new lease of life and a much sportier appearance, while making it even easier to live with everyday.

Most importantly though, is the way it drives. The ride quality is excellent, the cabin is comfortable and well-screwed together, and it is generally a quiet and relaxing place to be. The choice of engines might be fairly limited – and there isn’t a remotely sporty option – but the Qashqai is capable of truly impressive fuel economy. Many buyers are also fond of the raised driving position afforded by the crossover style body.

Combine all of these qualities together, and the Qashqai is very much a force to be reckoned with. Anybody in the market for the Golf – or indeed the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Honda Civic or Kia cee’d, among others – should certainly give the Qashqai healthy consideration.

2014 Carwow Car of the Year and Best SUV

The Qashqai is both our best SUV and our outright car of 2014. 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 cubbyholes for all the family’s trinkets.

The overall appearance is smart and designed to be as user friendly as possible. However, aside from one or two metallic 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, while the Golf still beats it for quality.

Visibility is good overall, thought that upwards kink in the rear passenger windows may look sporty from the outside, but 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, the cabin space is very generous. Owners of the old model will notice an increase in leg room front and rear, with room for three people to be seated in relative comfort on the back bench. It’s worth noting that from Acenta Premium trim levels and upwards, a panoramic glass roof is fitted as standard. It endows the cabin with a wonderful airy feel, by it does compromise headroom slightly, particularly in the back.

Buyers of the previous generation Qashqai +2 should note that a seven seat variant won’t be offered in the current model – the slightly longer Nissan X-Trail is the one to have if you need the extra seats.

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 car it replaces. 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.

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 control pitch, so when you hit a speed-bump there isn’t as much suspension 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 per cent of incisiveness anyway (those who do should take a look at either the Ford Focus or the Mazda 3.)

Overall, it’s a responsive, comfortable and refined vehicle, which ticks all the bases for the average family car.

Engine choice is between a new 1.2-litre DiG-T turbocharged petrol engine with 113hp, 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.

Nissan Qashqai petrol engine

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.

Nissan Qashqai diesel engines

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. The CVT can also 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.

The new petrol option produces 113 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque - a broadly similar power figure to the previous Qashqai's 1.6 petrol but with more torque. It also delivers similar performance figures, but fuel consumption is improved by 10% to 50.4 mpg and the 129 g/km CO2 figure drops it by two VED bands to band D.

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.

A re-engineered version of the previous generation's engine, the 1.5 still produces the same 108 hp as the old car but torque is up 15 lb-ft to 192 lb-ft. However the fuel economy improvements are remarkable, with CO2 emissions cut by 30% to 99 g/km - making it free to tax - with a combined fuel economy of 74.3 mpg. The 1.5 dCi adds £1,695 to the 1.2 petrol's price.

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.

Existing Qashqai owners will already be familiar with this engine, but it gets a few improvements in the new car. While power remains at 128 hp, mild improvements to emissions and economy are in evidence, with new benchmarks of 115 g/km CO2 and 64.2 mpg.

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.

These are general, non engine-specific reviews of the new Nissan Qashqai. They give you a good idea of what the car is like without going into detail on one particular engine.

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 five distinct trim lines – Visia, Acenta, n-tec, n-tec+ and Tekna – each of which offers more equipment than before. 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-tec, though, it offers everything most families need including a seven-inch display with sat-nav, keyless entry, and the excellent Smart Vision Pack. It 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 offering a heated screen and bi-LED headlights, plus a blind-spot-warning system and an aid that can detect when the driver needs to rest (and warns them to do so). A wipe-clean leather interior will also be a bonus to most families. 

The Qashqai is more expensive than some rivals – pricing now starts at £17,995 and runs up close to £30k – but most testers suggest it’s worth it – you’re getting exactly what you pay for. The Qashqai is available with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty from Nissan, with three years paintwork cover and a 12-year corrosion guarantee. The Hyundai i30 and Kia cee’d are the best in this class for peace of mind, offering five and seven year cover respectively.

Conclusion

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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