First Drive: Nissan Qashqai
We get into the driving seat of Nissan's new Qashqai. We lived with it for a week to see if it's as good as the outgoing model.
What is it?
In many ways Nissan were the first to create a proper 'crossover.' Its first generation of the Qashqai was launched a decade ago, and ever since around 2.3 million examples have been sold in Europe.
Now, with the introduction if its second generation, Nissan hopes to maintain this level of popularity.
Aesthetically, the all-new Qashqai is relatively similar to its predecessor.Ok so there's a revised front end, a chunkier grille, sleeker headlights and sharper taillights, but you know it's still a Qashqai.
The cabin has also been changed to include refinement updates and a much fresher image.
The biggest change, however, comes in the form of Nissan's ProPilot autonomous driving system. Arriving next year, it allows the Qashqai to control the steering, acceleration and braking – ideal for safe motorway cruising.
What's under the bonnet?
Our car was the range-topping Tekna+ model, fitted with Nissan's 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Under the bonnet was a respectable 109bhp and 260Nm of torque, meaning a 0-60mph time of 11.7 seconds and a top speed of 113mph.
There isn't a lot of punch from this engine, but what it lacks in grunt it certainly makes up for in economy. Nissan claims the 1.5-litre diesel manages a combined fuel consumption figure of 74.3mpg, with 99g/km of emissions.
What's it like to drive?
The Qashqai is not exciting by any means, but is certainly a capable crossover. Through the bends it did have some slight body roll, but not enough for you to notice too much.
The car doesn't really suit country road driving, its natural habitat is the motorway – this is where it really comes into its own. Despite having chunky 19-inch alloy wheels, our test car seemed to iron out imperfections in the road, and was generally very refined with little wind noise and very comfortable seats.
How does it look?
Despite it being a completely new car, not a lot has changed. At the front there are new headlights and a revised grille. At the back it's the same story – new taillights and a slightly more angular boot.
Go for a higher spec model and you get lots of chrome all over the place, giving the car a much more upmarket image.
Although minor, these tweaks really do make the car much more appealing on the eye. But, although more attractive than before, it's still not desirable enough.
What's it like inside?
The cabin does feel a step up from the outgoing model, and you can tell Nissan has put in some real effort. Our top spec Tekna+ featured lovely quilted leather seats, a Bose stereo system and smart-looking piano black panelling around the infotainment system. However, there are some hard plastics and materials that just don't quite feel as premium as you'd want.
Space, however, is excellent. There's plenty of headroom all round and in the back three adults can sit comfortably. Boot space stands at 430 litres with the rear seats in place, and can be increased to 1,598 litres with the seats folded down.
What's the spec like?
Prices for Tekna+ models start at a fairly considerable £27,830 compared to its rivals. For that you get full Nappa leather upholstery, a premium Bose sound system, electronically adjustable driver's seat and a panoramic glass roof – all as standard.
However, the vast majority of Qashqai customers will likely opt for the mid-range N-Connecta models, which start at £23,805.
What do the press say?
Auto Express said the Qashqai was a "practical, efficient and good to drive family crossover – even if more modest variants offer better value for money", while Top Gear said it's "not the unassailable class leader it once was, but still one of the best small SUVs on sale".
The new Qashqai might not be the most exciting of cars, but it is very capable. We would recommend one of the mid-range models over the Tekna+ as they represent better value for money.
Model as tested: Nissan Qashqai Tekna+ 1.5dCi 110PS
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel
Torque (Nm): 260
Max speed (mph): 113
0-60mph: 11.7 seconds
Emissions (g/km): 99