Refreshing changes for front-running Nissan Qashqai crossover
Nissan pioneered the crossover market with its best-selling Qashqai - motoring editor Andy Russell checks out the changes aimed at keeping it top of its game.
Nissan’s hugely-popular Qashqai has a following of loyal customers 10 years after pioneering the crossover sector.
The UK’s fourth best-selling car this year, with more than 57,000 registrations, Nissan has no intention of letting this sales success slip.
Three years after launching the second-generation Qashqai it has upgraded the range with a tweaked design, technology and new Tekna+ flagship including soft leather, quilted seats and Bose premium sound system.
Look and image
You need to know what you’re looking for as it’s facelift rather than the radical redesign three years ago.
A new front bumper, grille, bonnet, headlights and daytime running lamp signature and, at the back, new lights and bumper bring a more premium look. Add new alloy wheels and a couple of colours and it’s enough to get existing owners quite excited – they like their Qashqais and happily come back for more.
Under the bonnet
The turbo engine range has been carried over – 115PS 1.2-litre and 163PS 1.6-litre petrol and 110PS 1.5-litre and 130PS 1.6-litre diesel, the latter also with four-wheel drive.
All have their merits, and the 1.2-litre petrol and front-wheel drive 1.6-litre diesel have an optional CVT automatic gearbox as well as six-speed manual.
I’m a fan of the 1.5-litre diesel – it picks up eagerly over 2,000rpm, cruises relatively quietly at 70mph and returned 50 to 60mpg overall with a best of 65mpg.
How it drives
The Qashqai has always been a competent companion but dampers have been retuned to improve the ride, with a stiffer anti-roll bar to maintain handling prowess, while the steering is more precise, returning to centre more naturally, with less vibration feeding back to the driver.
It feels taut and tidy on twisty routes with responsive steering and body roll in check. Most of the time the ride is acceptably smooth but, with 18in alloy wheels, the mid-spec N-Connecta’s low-speed ride is restless when the going gets rough with noticeable tyre roar.
Space and comfort
It’s not difficult to see why the Qashqai can be all things to most people – hatchback, estate, sport utility vehicle, practical people-carrier – a winning one-size-fits-all with a higher driving position than a conventional car.
The spacious cabin has always been a big draw for families, more than capable of carrying long-legged teenagers in the back, and redesigned front seats from N-Connecta give better support while slimmer backs free up more rear kneeroom.
Cabin quality has also been improved with a new D-shaped steering wheel and higher-quality materials for contact points like airvents and door handles.
The 430-litre boot grows to 1,598 litres with the 60/40 rear seat backs folded while two removable luggage boards double up as sill-level load floor or can be used as dividers to retain and protect loads.
At the wheel
It’s easy to get comfortable with good adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, instruments and controls are logical, well positioned and easy to use with a seven-inch touchscreen on N-Connecta to display and control sat-nav and infotainment – it works well once mastered.
Thankfully, straightforward buttons and rotary controls are retained for heating and ventilation.
Wide front pillars, even chunkier rear ones and a small rear screen mean you’ll appreciate the N-Connecta’s front and rear parking sensors, cameras and around view monitor when manoeuvring in tight spaces.
The new Qashqai introduces ProPilot to control steering, acceleration and braking within its lane in heavy traffic and when cruising while existing driver aids have been upgraded.
The Qashqai has left its mark on modern motoring but, for all its success, Nissan is not resting on its laurels and refreshing this front-runner.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta dCi 110 2WD £25,555 (range £19,295 to £32,530)
Engine: 1,461cc, 110PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 11.9 seconds; top speed 113mph
MPG: Urban 67.3; extra urban 78.5; combined 74.3
CO2 emissions: 99g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 15
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,394mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,070mm; H 1,590mm