Nissan Qashqai (2017-2020) review
The Nissan Qashqai is a small family SUV that’s comfortable to drive and cheap to run. It’s far from the most practical SUV on sale, though, and doesn’t feel particularly special inside.
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If three-bedrooms is big enough for you, but you like a good view and easy access, you’d buy a flat with a lift. In the same way, if a family hatchback is the right sort of size for you, but you’d rather sit a little higher for easier access and visibility, then the Nissan Qashqai should be on your list of test drives.
It offers good space for a family, plenty of advanced safety kit and – as a bonus – it’s one of the most comfortable small SUVs to drive.
The latest generation of Nissan Qashqai has been with us since 2013, but Nissan gave it a few visual tweaks in 2018 to help it keep pace with the likes of the VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. It’s nice, but not quite enough to draw attention away from the eye-catching Peugeot 3008.
Sadly it’s a similar story inside, where the Qashqai’s cabin feels a bit old-hat. There’s nothing wrong with its sensibly laid out dashboard and soft-touch plastics, but it lacks the wow-factor of the Peugeot’s avant-garde interior. The same goes for the Nissan’s infotainment system – it covers all the important bases but feels more like a hand-me-down original iPhone than a box-fresh iPhone 12.
At least you’ll have somewhere comfortable to sit while you fiddle about with the system’s rather crowded menus. Every Nissan Qashqai comes with a height-adjustable driver’s seat as standard and there’s just enough space in the back for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind and equally lofty driver. A Kia Sportage is better for carrying three adults abreast, however.
Qashqai might be difficult to spell, but everything else about it makes life easier – it’s easy to drive, cheap to run and very comfy.
The Kia also comes with a bigger boot, but you’ll still be able to carry a few suitcases and a baby buggy in the Nissan Qashqai. That being said, it isn’t significantly roomier than the boots you get in many smaller hatchbacks and its raised ride height makes it a bit harder to load.
Thankfully, there’s nothing hard about the way the Nissan Qashqai drives. It’s more comfortable than your average hatchback and softens bumps better than almost all other small SUVs around town. Visibility is good too, thanks to the Nissan Qashqai’s raised body and large windows, but it can’t quite match the impressively quiet VW Tiguan for hushed cruising at speed.
That said, you can get it with what Nissan calls the ‘Pro Pilot’ driver assistance system – a feature that’ll accelerate, brake and even steer for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the wheel, of course.
Combine this with one of the Qashqai’s quiet (but slightly leisurely) diesel engines, and long drives feel about as taxing as popping to the shops. If you spend more time pottering around town, however, one of the petrol units is a much better choice – they’re impressively quiet and pack a decent punch without costing much to run.
They’re all pretty economical, though, and help make the Nissan Qashqai a well-rounded small family SUV that’s well worth considering. See how much you can save on a new car by visiting our Nissan Qashqai deals page.
Common Nissan Qashqai questions
What does Qashqai mean?
The word Qashqai comes from the name for a group of people living in southern and central Iran. It can also refer to the language spoken by people living in these regions.
There’s more than enough space in the front for tall adults to get comfy but you’ll be better off with one of the Qashqai’s wider alternatives if you regularly carry three in the back
You’ll have plenty of space to stretch out in the front seats of the Nissan Qashqai – even if you’re over six-foot tall – and all models come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat as standard. Acenta Premium cars and above come with a height-adjustable passenger seat and adjustable lumbar support for the driver to help reduce back ache on long journeys.
Pick a top-spec Tekna+ model and you’ll get electrically adjustable leather seats with a useful memory function – handy if you regularly lend your car to someone else.
Space in the back is better than in most family cars but not quite on a par with roomier SUVs such as the Kia Sportage. The rear doors open reasonably wide so it’s not too difficult to jump in the back seats and knee and foot room is okay, but tall passengers could do with a little extra headroom. There’s just enough shoulder space to carry three abreast (if not quite as much as in the Kia Sportage) but the lump in the floor will get in the way of the middle passenger’s feet and headroom is in even shorter supply.
Pick a Tekna+ model with a panoramic glass roof and rear headroom takes a slight hit. This can prove a pain when you’re leaning in to strap in a child but the Qashqai’s raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down quite as far as in a conventional family car.
The Isofix anchor points for fitting child seats are clearly marked too, and they come with flip-up covers instead of easy-to-lose plastic caps.
The Nissan Qashqai can’t quite match the Volkswagen Tiguan or Kia Sportage for handy cubby spaces but there’s still just enough space to squeeze a one-litre water bottle in the Qashqai’s front door bins. You get two large cupholders in the front as standard but only Acenta Premium models and above come with cupholders and a folding armrest for passengers in the back.
There’s space for another bottle in the large storage bin under the front armrest, but the glovebox is best described as average. There’s a slot for your phone in a tray under the dashboard and a USB port under the armrest for keeping it charged.
You can fit 430 litres of luggage in the Nissan Qashqai’s boot which means it’s not much bigger than the boot you get in an average family car such as the Volkswagen Golf. It’s easily big enough to carry a few suitcases or a large baby stroller but it’s not quite as spacious as the load bays in a Volkswagen Tiguan or Kia Sportage – all of which can carry more than 500 litres.
You can adjust the boot floor height to create a flat load bay which makes it easy to slide heavy or bulky items on board. Flip the boot floor upside down and you even get a handy wipe-clean surface that’s ideal for carrying muddy dogs or soaking-wet camping gear.
All but entry-level Visia cars come with what Nissan calls flexible underfloor storage – a collection of shelves and dividers for holding smaller items safely in place. It’s ideal for tucking a few valuables (such as cameras) safely out of sight and can be rearranged in 16 different ways.
The back seats aren’t quite so flexible but do flip down in a two-way (60:40) split so you can carry a passenger in the back and some long luggage in the boot at once. With both seats folded (you’ll have to lean forward to reach the latches beside the headrests) the Nissan Qashqai can carry 1,598 litres of luggage. That’s more space than the Sportage and Tucson can muster but significantly less than you get in a VW Tiguan.
So, the Nissan Qashqai might not be the most practical SUV around but its flat load bay makes it easy to slide heavy luggage right up behind the front seats and there’s more than enough space to carry a bike with its wheels attached.
The Qashqai’s dead easy to drive thanks to its raised driving position and comfortable suspension but don’t expect it to be exciting.
Unlike some SUVs, the Nissan Qashqai doesn’t pretend to be capable of tackling tricky off-road trails – instead its efforts are focused on being one of the comfiest family cars on-road
You can get the Nissan Qashqai with one diesel and two petrol engines, and with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic unit.
If you live in the heart of suburbia and consequently do lots of town driving pick the 1.3-litre petrol model. It’s available in two power outputs, 140 and 160hp, and is one of the best small petrol engines on sale. It’s hushed on the move and quite nippy – in both 140hp and 160hp guises. But, what you’ll love most is how smooth it is to drive. Unlike some smaller-capacity engines, it doesn’t growl or drone when you accelerate hard and it’ll return around 40mpg in normal driving conditions.
If you do lots of miles you’ll want to consider the 115hp 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’s just about nippy enough to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic and will return approximately 50mpg in normal driving conditions. It’s good enough that the range-topping 1.7-litre 150hp diesel isn’t really necessary unless you plan to tow with your Qashqai.
The Qashqai comes with a smooth six-speed manual gearbox as standard but you can get an automatic unit in diesel and more powerful petrol models to save you from making numerous gear changes in heavy traffic.
The Nissan Qashqai is larger than most conventional family cars but it’s still a breeze to drive around town. Its raised driving position gives you a good view out over the road ahead and the door pillars beside the windscreen don’t cause any particularly large blind spots at junctions.
It’s pretty easy to manoeuvre too, and you can get a wide range of extra tech to help make parking as stress-free as possible. Pick the Smart Vision pack if you want front and rear parking sensors or go for an N-Connecta car to get a 360-degree surround-view camera that shows a bird’s eye view of your car and its surroundings. For those dying to show off, Tekna and Tekna+ models get an automatic parking feature that’ll steer for you into parallel and bay spaces.
The Nissan Qashqai is one of the most comfortable family SUVs to drive, both around town and on the motorway. Its suspension does a great job of ironing out small imperfections in poorly maintained roads and it’s especially good at softening the jarring thud of large potholes. This is helped be a system (fitted to Acenta Premium models and above) which automatically dabs the brakes imperceptibly to cushion the suspension’s rebound over bumps.
Another clever bit of kit is the ProPilot semi-autonomous driving assistant, which is a combination of safety assists that, at the push of a button on the steering wheel, take over steering and braking, essentially driving the Nissan Qashqai for you. All you need to do is keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’s perfect for taking the sting out of long motorway journeys.
On top of that, you’ll hear barely any wind noise at speed, so it’s easy to travel long distances without feeling particularly fatigued – especially if you avoid the larger wheels fitted to N-Connecta models. They make the Nissan Qashqai feel slightly bumpier around town and produce a noticeable roar at motorway speeds.
On the upside, Acenta Premium cars and above with a few optional safety features for greater peace of mind. Nissan’s Smart Vision pack comes with automatic emergency braking (that’ll apply the brakes if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead), traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning as standard
The Qashqai feels fairly solid inside but alternatives have plusher materials and neater infotainment systems that are easier to use.