Nissan Qashqai First Drive: Has The Best Got Better?

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The Nissan Qashqai has been somewhat a revolution in the motoring world. Since its birth in 2007, it has kick started the UK’s love for crossovers/SUVs and has been a best seller throughout its lifetime. It may not be able to topple the mighty Ford Fiesta in regards to units shifted, but from an SUV only perspective, it’s in a league of its own. There is a new one though, but is it able to improve on an already winning formula?

More Upmarket

One of the key things for the new Qashqai is that it feels more upmarket, especially the Tekna+ model tested here. It’s the range-topping model, which starts from £27,830 and has features such as 19″ alloy wheels, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sumptuous Nappa leather seats with a design that’s reminiscent of a wrist watch. The dash is made of the soft materials, as are the door panels, and overall it’s a nice place to sit, especially with that large panoramic roof.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive

 

What Kit Does It Have?

With it being the Tekna+ model, it has many bells and whistles. As well as a plethora of safety kit including traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking, this model comes with a BOSE sound system, 7″ touchscreen with smartphone connectivity and navigation, all-round monitor, LED headlights and heated front seats to name a few.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive
I really like the design of the leather seats

At the other end of the spectrum, the base model ‘Visia’ is priced from £19,295 and comes with features such as hill hold assist, DAB radio, Bluetooth, air conditioning, cruise control and a flat bottomed steering wheel.

In my opinion, the mid-level ‘N-Connecta’ is your best bet as it represents good value for money, and is competitively priced. It starts from £23,805 and comes standard with features such as the 7″ touchscreen with navigation, front and rear parking sensors, 18″ alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, all-round monitor and keyless entry.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive
The boot offers a good amount of space – 401 litres to be precise. You’ll get 430 litres without the subwoofer.

What’s It Like To Drive?

There is choice of four engines in the new Qashqai – two petrols and two diesels. The unit fitted to the model tested is the 1.5 litre diesel which offers 108bhp with 260Nm of torque. This power is mated to 6-speed manual gearbox and two wheel drive, although four wheel drive can be specified if you choose the more powerful diesel. Those looking for more performance should look at the 1.6 litre petrol which offers 161bhp, but it’s worth mentioning that neither petrol is available with four wheel drive.

As you would expect, the 108bhp doesn’t offer a great deal of performance but for most buyers it will be enough. Mind you, it will make decent progress when the 6-speed is worked well, although I have mixed feelings about the gear change though as I found it to be precise, but the gear lever itself felt on the cheap side and the noise it makes isn’t overly appealing. When worked though, it will help the Qashqai hit 62mph in 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 113mph.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive

The diesel engine is smooth and refined, working away quietly in the background as you cruise along, but even towards the redline the engine note remains civilised and compliant. The delivery of the engine is progressive rather than linear or grunty, but as said earlier, this shouldn’t be an issue for most buyers.

The Qashqai itself is an easy car to drive and even with my short time with it, I could completely understand its appeal. It is of course an SUV, so you get a bigger bodyshape compared to a hatchback, and you get an elevated driving position, but it doesn’t feel like a big car to drive. Around town, the steering is light, meaning that the car is easy to manoeuvre, and in truth it feels like you’re driving a medium-sized hatchback.

The ride is comfortable, although the suspension is a tad on the firm side and at low speeds you’re likely to feel the bumps and imperfections of poorer surfaced roads. That does in turn mean that the cornering is of a good standard, plus there is plenty of grip on offer. In regards to refinement, the Qashqai feels very civilised to sit in and I could not find a great deal of wind noise, although the tyre noise from those 19″ alloys was definitely audible. This is another reason why the mid-range N-Connecta model could be a better bet.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive

The Qashqai has an improved dashboard layout compared to its predecessor and from where I was sat, everything was easy to use. There are a few buttons on the centre console but they are well laid out and the buttons have a nice solidity when you use them, so they should stand the test of time. I didn’t get much chance to play about with the toys, but when I did use the infotainment system it seemed easy to use and slick.

There’s plenty of space inside too, at no point did I feel cramped, and my passenger in the rear was comfortable – so comfortable in fact, that she fell asleep. I’m hoping that was down to the car being comfortable, rather than me boring her in to a deep slumber… The boot is also of a good size, meaning this will be more than capable for a family trip away, or simply taking the dog out for a walk. 401 litres is offered from the boot of the Qashqai, but this can be increased to an impressive 1,569 with the rear seats folded down.

Final Thoughts

The Nissan Qashqai has dominated the UK SUV market for quite some time now, and in fact it was the best selling car overall in both June and September this year. The new model had some big shoes to fill, but if you ask me, Nissan has done very well with this model. From my short drive I couldn’t find a great deal wrong with it other than the gear shift, so it looks like Nissan is on to another winner here.

Has the best got better? I think it’s a safe bet to say yes.

Nissan Qashqai First Drive

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