First model from all-new, Chinese-owned, Volvo-engineered brand is a sharable crossover
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The Top Gear car review:Nissan Qashqai
For:Bigger passenger compartment, improved refinement, efficient engines
Against:Lower powered versions are rather sluggish
What we say:
The new Qashqai is well made, more refined and nice to live with. Nissan has nailed it.
What is it?
The second-generation crossover MPV from Nissan. Looks like a 4x4, has the drivability and running costs of a car. It sits on a Renault-Nissan Alliance modular platform, it’s lighter by about 40kg despite having grown and acquired more equipment, and the deficient rear seat space has been remedied.
As it’s a regular top-10 best seller in the UK, this is a vital car for Nissan to get right. And it has - proven by the fact it’s now a UK top-10 staple, outselling almost every other comparable family hatch with ease.
The engine range is all about quietness and economy. There are two petrols and two diesels, but they top out at 130bhp (diesel) and 150bhp (petrol). The 110bhp 1.5 dCi engine emits just 99g/km CO2, but you do need patience with it – you’ll be dropping two gears for main road hills and when overtaking, you can feel yourself growing old. The 1.6 dCi has a more useful 130bhp and can be had with a CVT auto called Xtronic, which generally operates in a stepped mode. It manages to avoid the outboard-motor sound-effects of other CVTs while retaining their smoothness.
There’s also a neat new brake function so when you hit, say, a big pothole it will dab one or two brakes to help cancel out the pitch. The ride is more turbulent than in the best hatches, but it’s good for a tallish crossover even though Nissan’s switched to a torsion-beam rear axle rather than the old car’s multi-link set-up. There’s also been a worthwhile cut in road noise.
On the inside
Inside, Nissan’s pensioned off the hard plastic dash, with its tiny sat nav and stark look, and it’s all the more appealing as a result. The front seats are excellent. The extra size makes it more of a family car, as it’s remedied the deficient rear seat space. The boot’s better too, and most versions get a clever system of boards to divide it up and stop your eggs getting thrown about on the way home from the shops. Add in the excellent refinement for something very appealing to families indeed.
Climb up the spec tree, and the technology gets mighty impressive. Right from the bottom, there’s a cheap £450 option of front collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, speed sign recognition and park sensors both ends. At the top trim level, Tekna, you get that lot plus blind-spot warning, aroundview cameras, self-parking, Google send-to-car in the satnav and LED headlamps. Apparently, customers have demanded more tech: Nissan has certainly delivered it.
As intimidating as a knitted cushion. The old model had strong residuals, and the Qashqai v2.0 still has its own niche. It’s cheaper and more economical than the likes of the Kuga, Tiguan and CR-V (having an eco 99g/km 1.5 dCi is a bit of a coup), but more substantial and desirable than other rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson and Renault Kadjar.