First Drive: Nissan Qashqai
As Nissan's best-selling model in Europe, the Qashqai is incredibly important for the Japanese brand. We put the latest version to the test.
What is it?
The Qashqai has been with us now for more than a decade and in that time has sold around 2.3 million units.
In fact it's the best-selling model the Japanese manufacturer has ever brought to the European market – so it's absolutely vital it gets this new version spot on.
There are some crucial changes for the new model, notably a revised exterior, a greater focus on interior refinement and quality, improved driving performance and the introduction of new Nissan Intelligent Mobility solutions, which place a greater emphasis on safety.
There's also a new range topping Tekna+ version, with Nissan introducing ProPilot autonomous drive technology in spring 2018.
What's under the bonnet?
There are several engines to choose from, including a 1.2-litre petrol unit with 113bhp and a 1.6-litre petrol with 161bhp. The diesels will most likely be the top sellers however with a choice of two.
These range from a 1.5-litre unit with 109bhp to a 1.6-litre with 128bhp. All engines are available with either manual or automatic gearboxes, with the more powerful diesel being the only engine offered with four-wheel-drive.
What's the spec like?
Although a base-spec Qashqai will cost from £19,295, only a tiny percentage of buyers will opt for this trim level. In the Tekna specification that our test car was built to. Tick lots of options and the new Qashqai will set you back from £27,450 when equipped with the 1.6-litre petrol.
For your money, however, you do get a good deal of equipment as standard. Some of the toys include DAB radio, satellite navigation, a rear parking camera, heated seats and a panoramic glass roof.
There's also a suite of safety equipment included as standard on Tekna models, such as lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and intelligent emergency braking, which will bring the car to a halt if it detects a hazard in front of the car.
In 2018, Nissan will also start to roll out ProPilot – which will allow the Qashqai to accelerate, slow down and keep itself in a single lane at both cruising speed and when in heavy traffic with no input from the driver.
The Qashqai will go up against the likes of Seat's Ateca and the Kia sportage. In comparison to the Ateca, the Qashqai certainly stands out more from the crowd thanks to its curvy looks and sharp front-end styling.
Inside however it still feels slightly bland and a lot more cluttered with lots of buttons than the Ateca. The Kia Sportage is also a striking looking SUV and offers just as much practicality and is similarly priced. If anything the Nissan does have slightly better built quality but offers just 430-litres of boot space compares with 503-litres in the Kia.
What's it like to drive?
That 1.6-litre petrol engine with its 161bhp and 240Nm of torque makes the Qashqai quite a fun car to drive. The pace at which it picks up speed is impressive considering the car's size, and it sounds pretty good too.
While the Qashqai is never going to be able to hold a candle to the likes of a smaller supermini when it comes to threading together a couple of sharp corners, it's still impressive. There is some roll through the bends thanks to its rather tall stature, but this is to be expected from a car of this nature.
One area where the Qashqai really stands it is just cruising down the motorway. It really is a comfortable car – a lot of which is down to its superb seats. These manage to be both very soft and decently supportive – both of which add up to you being less fatigued when you eventually arrive at your destination. It also deals with uneven surfaces with aplomb, and doesn't crash about or feel unsettled when the road gets a bit lumpy.
AOL Cars Verdict
As the original crossover vehicle – according to Nissan, at least – the Qashqai has always been targeted firmly at family buyers. The manufacturer hopes the new model will continue to appeal to the urban family, and thanks to its strong levels of practicality, safety technology and ease of use, it should be
successful in doing so.