Nissan Qashqai Review: Refreshing a Pioneer
by Sue Baker
You wouldn’t think it from the badge, but Nissan’s Qashqai is a thoroughly British car.
A decade has passed since Nissan first launched the Qashqai, its oddly-named pioneering model that began the subsequent tsunami of tall, high-riding, chunky and rugged-looking – but not necessarily four-wheel-drive – hatchback/SUV ‘crossover’ cars that now dominate the traffic.
During that time the Qashqai has been a big success for Nissan, with 2.3 million sold around the world. Over 450,000 have gone onto the roads in Britain, and last year it was in fifth place on this country’s best-selling cars list. It is Europe’s most popular crossover model.
It is also a success for the British motor industry, having been designed in London (at Nissan’s Paddington design studio), engineered in the midlands (at the company’s Cranfield technical centre) and manufactured in the north (at the Nissan UK factory in Sunderland).
What a difference a decade has made. Back in 2007, when the Qashqai first appeared, it stood alone as a new breed of soft-SUV car. It has been a big trend-setter: today it has 21 direct competitors, including premium brand models, although its key rivals are Volkswagen’s Tiguan and Kia’s Sportage.
Now the second-generation Qashqai, introduced in 2013, has just undergone a mid-life update. The changes focus on freshening its looks and upgrading its quality, to keep it competitive with newer rivals.
What’s changed? It has undergone a redesign inside and out. It has a modestly restyled front end with changes to the bonnet, grille and headlights for a slightly more butch look, and at the back there is a new rear bumper and ‘trip’ edges added to the tail-lights to channel air flow.
Inside there are new seats that Nissan says have been developed using NASA space technology for improved blood-flow and reduced long-distance fatigue. The steering wheel has gone flat-bottomed for a bit of extra room getting in and out of the car, and a Bose sound system is a new option.
One target for improvement was noise reduction, with aerodynamic amendments and more sound-proofing aimed at making the car quieter. It’s still not especially hushed, with some wind noise fairly constantly present and noticeable tyre rumble over most surfaces.
The Qashqai range now has some smart new wheels, and 9-inch rims are standard across the range. It’s creditable that with this chunky tyre size, Nissan’s engineers have still managed to achieve the 1.5 litre diesel engine’s 99 g/km CO2 output, with a combined fuel figure in the mid-70s per gallon.
The Qashqai is practical family transport with five seats and 401 litres of square-shaped boot room. In all but the base version, the boot floor level is variable, so you can either hide items under it, or lower the level to create extra space for bigger loads.
On the road
The Qashqai is a very friendly drive, although not an especially lively one with the 1.5 litre diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission. It rides comfortably and has taut handling composure for quite a tall car. It is well-mannered on the bends, with good body control and not much lean into the corners.
It’s quite commendable that Nissan has managed to combine fair performance with good economy and a sub-100 g/km CO2 figure in a crossover model riding on handsome, wheel-arch-filling wheels.
Prices for the new Qashqai range start from £19,295, with the very comprehensively-equipped Tekna+ top-sped models topping over £30,000.
Nissan Qashqai Stats Review
Model tested: Qashqai Tekna+ dCi 100 2WD
Top speed: 113 mph
0-62 mph: 11.9 secs
CO2: 99 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
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