Since the launch of the original Qashqai back in 2007, not only has it become the UK’s favourite SUV, it’s also inspired every other Tom, Dick & Harry, to launch their own version too. The latest Qashqai features all-hybrid engines, new tech & a sharper silhouette, so can it keep the pretenders at bay ? Read on to find out.
Model choice & engines
All versions are powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. Choose from the 1.3 DIG-T 140, with 138hp & 240Nm or the 1.3 DIG-T 158 manual, offering 156hp & 260Nm. There’s also an auto version of this, also with 156hp but with 270Nm or a 4WD version, the 1.3 DIG-T 158, which also comes with 156hp & 270Nm.
Mirroring the Nissan model range, new Qashqai begins with a Visia model, offered only with the lower-powered 138hp engine. Next up is the Acenta Premium, then comes N-Connecta, Tekna with Tekna+ topping off the model range. Acenta Premium is offered with both engines & the 2WD auto, N-Connecta & Tekna with both engines in 2WD or 4WD, whilst Tekna+ only comes with the more powerful 158hp engine, available in manual or auto, with a choice of 2WD or 4WD.
Despite plenty of upgrades, the Qashqai is unmistakably a Qashqai. You now get vertical air ducts in the front bumper, a sort of floating roof design & new LED headlights. But, the V shaped front grille & familiar rear end – the lights are slimmer – remain. The main changes are with size. It’s 35mm longer, 20mm in the wheelbase, 25mm taller & 32mm wider, so there’s more interior space all around.
The highlight is a much improved infotainment system that features a neat & tidy 9″ touchscreen, ( 7″ on Visia) with short-cut buttons underneath. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto both feature, with wireless CarPlay offered with the larger touchscreen. You also get an electric parking brake, a D-MODE selector, a push button start, one Type C USB in the front & 2 Rear USBs.
The quality of the fixtures & fittings is better than before, with some nice soft-touch materials & brushed plastics used inside. It’s finished off in black, chrome & grey & overall, it’s a comfortable cabin to be in.
Sitting in the drivers seat, you get a commanding driving position with excellent visibility. On our Tekna+ test car, the quilted leather seats seats were supportive & well finished. Storage comes in the form of large door pockets that will take a large drink & a good sized glove box. On our Tekna+, there’s a wireless phone charger in the centre of the dash. You also get two cup holders located in-between the front seats & an armrest with storage space underneath & two more USB inputs within.
The increased exterior dimensions, make for more head & leg room in the cabin. Thanks to the extra 38mm of width, three adults will just about squeeze in the rear sat side by side. The back seats fold down in a 40/60 split, with the boot now offering a massive 504 litres of storage. The boots is also clever, as it features removable floor panels that can be raised or lowered, or cleverly set upright to create a divider that stops things from sliding around. The panels can also be turned over to reveal a wipe-clean surface, useful for your muddy shoes or a wet dog. When in place, you get a flat load area with some extra space below, which was perfect for storing my bike helmet, gloves & shoes, with my bike sat on top.
All Qashqai’s comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), blindspot monitoring, traffic sign recognition & a driver attention alert system. Visia features a 7″ touchscreen, steel wheels, front & rear LED lights & a rear parking sensor. Accent Premium adds, 17” alloys, an 8” Nissan Connect display, a rear view camera, an i-Key, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. N-Connecta includes, 18” alloys, privacy glass, 9” NissanConnect with connected services including wireless Apple CarPlay, an around view monitor & front parking sensors. Tekna pushes things a bit further, with 19” alloys, Pro-PILOT with Navi-Link, a 10.8″ Head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, a hands free power tailgate & a wireless charging pad. Range topping Tekna+ enhance this, with 20” alloys, wheels, quilted leather seat front seats, a front seat massage function & a Bose sound system.
On the road
We were testing the Acenta+ 158hp manual aversion of the Qashqai & the first thing to say is that it feels underpowered. Put your foot down, even in Sport Mode & it’s slow to react. Reach 2000 revs & it gets more lively, but it still feels underpowered. Blame this on the 1.3 engine or the need for Nissan to tick emission boxes, but compared to the 1.5 petrol engine fitted in the Volkswagen Tiguan & Hyundai Tucson, the Qashqai feels a bit weak.
Our Tekna+ test car came fitted with Nissans ProPilot+ system. So you get help with motorway driving, including, Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Warning & Blind Spot Intervention. These work brilliantly on the motorway & help make longer journeys more driver friendly.
In town, you can take advantage of Intelligent Forward Collision Warning & Intelligent Forward Brake with Pedestrian, Cyclist & Junction assist. Like many similar systems, the Lane Departures a little annoying & the Forward Collision, a little too keen to take over. Otherwise, these safety features, are an excellent addition to the Qashqai range.
Ride comfort is very good. A 100 mile motorway jaunt saw me take advantage of the massage seats. On smaller, winding roads locally, the suspension works well & the ride is supple, especially compared to the ride in a Tiguan. Nissan has clearly prioritised ride comfort over performance.
The steering is light, which is useful in town, but not so good on the open road, where there’s a tendency for it to lack control in corners. Furthermore, the six-speed manual gear box is notchy & we’d have preferred an auto gear box.
Performance & fuel economy
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds & top speed is 128mph. CO2 emissions are 146g/km, with a combined fuel economy of 43.6 mpg. In truth, the mpg is about right, A week spent in the Qashqai driving 300 miles saw us average 42.6 mpg. We drove almost exclusively in Eco Mode. We did try both Standard & Sport modes, but couldn’t really feel the difference in handling or acceleration, with either.
The new Qashqai looks great. The interior is well finished & the on board tech & safety are second to none. The increased interior space is helpful & the 506 litre boot, with the myriad of storage options it offers, is the best in class.
Notchy manual gear change. The 1.3 engines are underpowered when fully laden,
The new Qashqai is a big improvement over the last one, right across the board. We reckon the auto in 2WD is the gear box of choice, as we didn’t get to grips with the manual version. And, we’d choose an Accenta Plus or Tekna version, which both offer the best in tech & safety, whilst not being too overpriced.
Compared to the competition, such as the VW Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson & KIA Niro, its competitive. In effect, the latest version carries on where it’s predecessors began, by offering a good looking, practical family SUV, with a much improved interior, on trend tech & excellent safety.